A Beginner’s Guide To Coffee Shops That Aren’t Starbucks

Welcome! I see you found the place eventually. You accidentally went to Starbucks first? Yeah, that’ll happen. There’s one right around the corner. Is this coffee shop better than Starbucks? Well, this place has a pun in the name, so yeah, obviously. But what really makes this café good is that it’s not a Starbucks. By coming here you’re supporting local business — let that thought warm you. Seriously, the thermostat here has been broken for months. In fact, since you’ve never been here before, I should probably give you a few tips.

First of all, the drink sizes are all different here — tall/grande/venti is a Starbucks thing. No, it’s not small/medium/large, either. This shop uses single/double/gotta-have-it. Also, they don’t sell Frappuccinos, a macchiato is not what you think it is, and the iced coffee is terrible. Beware the iced coffee.

They don’t accept credit cards. What do you mean you don’t carry cash? You know credit card fees are destroying small businesses, right? Fine, I’ll spot you. This time.

No, the employees never make eye contact. (Sorry, we don’t call them baristas here.) It’s because they’re musicians. Or at least, they hang out with a lot of musicians. We don’t force them to fake saccharin smiles or pretend to care about you, like they do at those corporate places. You order coffee and they make it for you — what more could you ask? What? That isn’t the drink you ordered? Shit. OK, OK, don’t panic. He’s probably going to roll his eyes and let out an exasperated sigh, but remember, it’s not about you — it’s just that his life is super hard.

And what’s wrong with your sandwich? I see bread, I see turkey — what else would you want on a turkey sandwich? Your sandwich is fine.

Just look at the eclectic mix of people here — hipsters, 20-somethings, writers, the unemployed, students. That could be the next Hemingway sitting right over there. Yeah, maybe Hemingway wouldn’t wear a three-wolf moon t-shirt, but who knows. There’s just so much originality here! So much creativity! And everyone has a MacBook Pro. Just like me!

All the artwork on the walls comes from local painters and photographers, and it’s all for sale. This one stirs a lot of emotion in me. Which emotions? Well, sadness, I guess. Pity. It’s pretty awful. But it makes you think, doesn’t it? Yeah — about your choices in life.

The music is pretty great though, huh? What is it? Usually it’s one of the employees’ iPods on shuffle. This seems to be mostly anti-bluegrass and early 2000s trip-hop. And the new Carly Rae Jepsen album, but I assume that’s on there ironically. Cool, right?

It can be hard to find a table with an outlet though, and I need one to plug in my MacBook Pro — there’s no point in meeting at a coffee shop if I can’t use my computer. Is supporting Apple the same as supporting Starbucks? No, it’s totally different! Sure, Apple may also be a giant, greedy corporation, but they make good stuff. And I like that there are Apple Stores everywhere, so I can always get my fix — I mean, get my computer fixed. Yeah, most of what they sell is kind of expensive, but it just works. … No, I didn’t realize that was one of their corporate slogans.

Come on, just taste the coffee. Pretty good, right? Where do they get their beans? They’re from a little roaster up in Washington called, uh, Seattle’s Best.

What do you mean that’s a subsidiary of Starbucks? Oh, fuck me. TC Mark

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