Starbucks to become chill once again?

11 February 2008

StarbucksGranted a little off topic, but I live in Seattle so if there's one thing that affects me more than the rain it is the caffeine. Earlier today Starbucks announced that they're providing free wireless Internet for the first two hours when you use a Starbucks card.  After the last holiday season, my wallet's full of the little buggers, and I can't help but note that this might be a good trend for Starbucks as it looks to bring back its alienated customers and revitalize the cafe culture. All I can say is, "awesome work Starbucks."  Having this option rolled out to as many stores will help to stop eroding their share of the cafe culture's dollars; I've started spending more time at the fun, quirky and fun shops throughout Seattle such as Bauhaus, Ladro, and Vivace, with the corporate Tully's and Starbucks being the fallbacks for a known entity... and the only one that is everywhere yet charges for Internet is Starbucks. Not so long ago the infamous Schultz memo echoed what many coffee-goers felt: Starbucks was alienating the core coffee culture group, becoming more gift shop than chill place to spend time. I'm going to love to see what other work Starbucks management has been planning. "Voxx" in Eastlake On a related front, just this morning a new espresso shop opened up in the Eastlake neighborhood of Seattle at the intersection of Eastlake Ave and Lynn street.  The place is called "Voxx," which I was completely convinced was a vodka until realizing the vodka is spelled with just a single 'x.'  That said, walking inside I felt like I was in a Belltown bar because there was some Thievery Corp-meets-Massive Attack playing and it had that new-age chill feeling to it.  For 8am it sure felt out of place.. Jury's still out on whether my habits change, the Starbucks on Eastlake has awful parking, is too tiny to sit down and spend some quality time at; there's a nice bakery nearby that is much more my scene; and about 6K other coffee shops in Seattle...

Jeff Wilcox is a Software Engineer at Microsoft in the Open Source Programs Office (OSPO), helping Microsoft engineers use, contribute to and release open source at scale.

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