Have you ever noticed that no matter which Starbucks you go to, the furniture is always the same? As in literally the same. Sitting in any Starbucks coffee house, you could be in London, Berlin or Buenos Aires. Nothing alters, apart from the language, but even then most of the drinks aren’t translated: Quiero un pumpkin spiced latte por favor...
Right now I’m sitting in a Starbucks, enjoying the newspaper and a decaf Pumpkin Spiced Latte. It’s a sunny day here. The air is crisp with that autumnal odour and the ground outside is covered in a sea of red, bronze and yellow leaves. There’s hardly a cloud in sight, the sun is shining, but it’s cold enough to lounge comfortably in a hoody.
I’m sitting on of one of those armless lounge chairs. There’s another one opposite me with a round coffee table positioned in between . Perpendicular to me there’s a fake leather sofa – you know the one with the really short arms. It’s big enough for two people to sit cosy next to each other – or hygge, as the word cosy is now out of fashion…
As I look around me, I realize I’ve been in this situation before. It was in a Starbucks in Argentina. Sitting on a cosy – sorry, hygge – chair with a little coffee table in front of me, both then and now with my MacBook on my knee, my phone half under my leg and the strap of my bag wrapped around my ankle. Only a few weeks early my bag, coat and laptop had been stolen in a Starbucks in Buenos Aires. I wasn’t going to risk it again, and I still don’t to this day, even though I’m back in the UK.
Back then, just like now, I find myself looking around the café, observing the people, the decor and the furniture. It almost seems as though all three are identical in every Starbucks: the same soft seats for the book readers and groups of friends, the hard table and chairs for the startupers, yuppies and hipsters, and the coffee-to-go for the business execs and the fitness freaks who have neither the time nor the urge to hang around.
The last group of people are particularly interesting. Despite being keen to show off the Starbucks mermaid logo cup in their hands, you’d think their unwillingness to hang around were some sort of shame. Starbucks? Wouldn’t be caught dead in there… but I’ll drink the coffee to go. Well, that’s how I imagine them speaking about it.
All the yuppies have a MacBooks. The wannabe entrepreneurs have their iPhones. The hipsters have a notepad and pen. I have all three, so I’m not sure what that makes me – a hybrid?
Looking around the people and the venue, I can’t help but wonder, how is it possible you can travel across the world, from hemisphere to hemisphere, pole to pole, continent to continent, and still be in the same place?