Why am I at Starbucks, Again?

It's another Saturday morning and I'm sitting in Starbucks working away while my two daughters dance at their studio nearby. As I often do, I find myself considering what has motivated me to visit Starbucks... again. Of course, Starbucks isn't the only coffee shop near here. There is WiFi at their studio that I could use, and it's not only the noise at the studio that has me choosing Starbucks, instead.

I was here last week, too. I sat at the bar, working on my Mac. The line was out the door, and I waited for an opening to order my usual venti Chai. The baristas whirled around behind the bar, filling order after order, mostly avoiding the seemingly inevitable collisions as they rushed in a coordinated effort to keep the coffee coming as quickly as they could.

They smiled and laughed, chatted with one another and their customers, and even in the face of an overwhelming crowd, maintained both their focus and their good humor.

I had sat at the bar there for a while, looking up occasionally to see if there was an opening. I had work to do and didn't want to spend the 10 or so minutes necessary to get my order into the process.

While pumping, pouring, mixing, and blending, one of the baristas made a comment to me about the zaniness of the morning. "You all are doing a great job! I keep waiting for the line to shrink, but the customers just keep coming and you keep everything moving," I said.

My comment was a compliment for their hard work. What she said in response underlines a very important success and business concept: "Oh! I can get something started for you. What would you like?"


If you're not careful, you will overlook the remarkable value of the Starbucks culture: her first thought was how she could serve me. There was no resignation in it, no resentment, no sense that I was interrupting or disturbing them. Just a willingness to serve.

That sense continued after she delivered my Chai. No urgency to be paid. In fact, even in the midst of the rush, there was no sense of overwhelm or pressure.

As a result, I'm back today.

When I walked to the counter today and ordered my Chai, one of the baristas that was here last week looked up, "You missed it," she said, "it's quiet now, but you should have seen it just a few minutes ago." Then, turning to her colleague, "He was here last week when it was so busy for so long." They started to chat and laugh about the logistics of working around one another when there is so much to do. They included me in their conversation and as a result, drew me even more into their circle of influence.

I'll be back.