I had 2 meetings at Starbucks last week. For me, it was a typical week, but I know there are lots of people who have many more meetings at Starbucks each week. I’ll bet there are some Starbucks “Platinum Elite Flyers” who spend more time there than at the office. I see one of my neighbors at Starbucks every morning – I mean “every morning” quite literally.
When I started working more years ago than I care to admit, there was a sudden and unexpected spike in coffee prices (it is a commodity, after all), and I remember reading about coffee as the “fuel for American business”, that American business was practically addicted to coffee. I’ll admit there are very few mornings that I don’t enjoy a cup or two, and all of those mornings that I don’t inevitably lead to afternoons I wish I had. I’ve had that habit for going on three decades now.
Before Starbucks was serving up the java, the only option was the office coffee pool that brewed Maxwell House or Folgers, or if we worked for a really cool company we had a coffee service with exotic Columbian or Louisiana chickory roast. If business was conducted over coffee outside the office, it was at a diner along with breakfast, but we Americans don’t feel comfortable lingering too long occupying a table at a restaurant so the opportunity for business would be cut short – less than ideal for conducting business. So it seems like a stroke of brilliance to serve the fuel of American business in an environment that encourages lingering. We all have Starbucks to thank for that concept.
Sure, there is the other famous business conducting venue: playing a round of golf. But even a quick 9 holes requires a couple of hours and a change of clothes, and the participants have too much attention devoted to the game itself. A Starbucks meeting can happen at any time during a work day, might only require an hour, and doesn’t end with someone winning and someone losing (unless you do some competitive coffee drinking). And while golf is a popular game, there are lots more people who drink coffee than play golf. Besides, when was the last time you were able to conduct business on the links during the middle of the day in Manhattan, or in Chicago during the month of February?
So I raise a cup to Starbucks, who is doing their part to fuel American business. This coming week I’ve got 2 meetings scheduled again, and I’ve got enough room on my Starbucks card for at least 4 more meetings.