Saturday, April 21, 2007

It's All About The Atmosphere

The other day I went to the greatest Starbucks ever. Now, truly, I just plain love coffee. It didn't have to be the S-word, but there aren't many coffee houses in this area, so a chain like Starbucks was a good option, I thought. But this place was really amazing. The best one I've been in, and I've been in a lot of em!

To start with, it was in the hood. And don't tell me that's not a big deal, or not something that gives the place bonus points, cause about 5 years ago, there were NO Starbucks coffee houses in anyplace of color. Period. This may be a slightly jaded point of view, but since I live in a pretty diverse area (Courney - hush), and in a pretty metropolitain (Washington, D.C.) area, I think I'm a pretty good reference for this fact.

I had about 30 minutes to kill before picking up my son from school, so I decided I deserved a cup of coffee. I knew this place was there, but had never been in before - I usually only pass by it on the way to Target, and then wind up going - oh yeah, there's a Starbucks here!

Anyway, this place was really amazing. Very clean, nice music, not too loud, not freezing cold like the one near my own house (also in a "colorful" area), and contained - get this, friendly, intelligent, community-minded people! OMG I think this is my new chillout spot!!

To begin with, there were two friends relaxing and talking at a table. One guy busily working at a small table by himself (it actually turns out he was doing a marker-type paint-by-numbers, so he turned out to be a bit odd, but hey, he was relaxed and happy, drinking coffee, so he's kin to me no matter!), two tables with pairs of men playing chess, and a sista workin' it on her laptop. Up by the barista there were a set of grandparents out with their very young grandchild, doting on her while enjoying coffee and reading the paper, and, uh, well, I'll just say it - a pretty good looking guy finishing up a cup of cofee, only to moments later grab his helmet and jump on his motorcycle.

Pretty diverse group, but everyone was relaxed and respectful, and it made for a very relaxing, safe, friendly place that I want to go back to. Even the staff members seemed happy to be there, not angry that they made coffee all day everyday, and not bored out of their minds. This is not the norm, in my experience. Usually, I find the coffee houses to be a bit unfriendly. The staff is either complaining about being at work, complaining about their coworkers, or acting as if the customers do not know what they are talking about, or what to ask for (the latter would be more of a manageable attitude only if they didn't sell a bazillion different possibilities for beverages). And then there's the people in them. They're just not usually all of one accord like this place. And I usually either feel like 1) I'm sitting too close to someone - like they really don't WANT anyone sitting at the table next to their table, or 2) like I'm being watched and judged for what I'm doing.

But not here. And here, just like most places I'm sitting for a period of time, I was knitting. So there I was, knitting, drinking coffee, and enjoying the atmosphere, barely able to believe that I had to go to the hood to get such good atmosphere. While I was there, the laptop woman kindly asked me (trusted me) to watch her computer while she ran back out to the car to get something she had forgotten. And the chess-playing guys? One guy was trying to get out of playing, and kindly asked if either myself or the laptop lady wanted to take his place. Seems he was trying to get to the "market" (grocery store), and didn't want to be any later, but his chess buddies were too tempting. Nothing leechy or invasive, just one question, we both said no, and they all went back to playing. Oh, and the guy who wanted to go to the market? He wound up staying and playing another game because the first game wound up in a "draw." Go figure.

I was very pleasantly surprised. The Target in that neighborhood irks me to no end. Usually messy, the customers walk the aisles cursing like sailors, and the staff can't be bothered to help you. Lovely. I'm really glad I "discovered" this Starbucks, and plan to visit more often.

Oh, and by the way - the Starbucks I'm referring to is located in Forrestville, MD. Check it out if you are local - I'll be there knitting occasionally!!

:O)

2 Comments:

Blogger Rebecca said...

Starbucks! The best place to knit! I'm glad you have one in your neighborhood but now you better put a Starbucks budget in your budget book because I foresee several more visits in the near future.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Hi Heather, thanks for the top about the park in Columbia as a good place to take my little niece and nephew. I think we'll try it.

How do you like the mineral makeup? I've been wanting to try.

Your Starbucks sounds great! I love places that have a good community vibe.

2:46 PM  

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