True Life: I Spent an Afternoon Blogging @ Starbucks

If you’re like me, you often wonder whatever happened to good old-fashioned investigative journalism. Journalists used to go undercover to get first-hand knowledge on an issue. Now most breaking news seems to come in list-form and is often a summation of someone else’s findings, with no new information at all.

Well I’m officially on a mission to reignite the flame of journalistic integrity as I go undercover into the world of coffee shop blogging.

120514 starbys

WHO – Yours truly, Amy M4gic
WHAT – Spending a day in the life of a coffee shop blogger
WHERE – Starbucks in Venice, CA
WHEN – December 4th, 1 – 4pm
WHY – For journalism!

Some of my questions going into the experience

  • Who are the people who camp out at Starbucks in the middle of the day. Bloggers? Students? Uber drivers?
  • What is the protocol for buying food/drinks when you’re there for 5+ hours?
  • How rigorously is the WIFI usage monitored?
  • Is it really that great of a work environment?

How it went down

Around 12:30pm, I was forced out of my apartment by my upstairs neighbor’s noise level. I grabbed my laptop and NASM flashcards, and hit the pavement. My apartment is equidistant from two coffee shops: Venice Grind, a small, local coffee shop, and Starbucks. There’s no question that Venice Grind has better coffee and less Christmas music, but in order to get the full coffee-shop-blogging experience, I knew what I had to do. To Starbucks I walked.

I spent an hour and a half working through my flashcards, which are my study tool of choice and the only reliable way I can seem to memorize information. Once I had gone through the full deck once, and the “problem” cards twice as many times, I joined the masses and opened up my laptop.

Despite my best efforts to play it cool and act like a regular, I’m sure some of the more observant patrons saw through my facade. Luckily, the natives were mostly docile and let me conduct my research in peace.


  • There was a laptop on every single table, and every single table was occupied. I was surprised to see people working on laptops outside until I realized that Starbucks has achieved an unthinkable feat: outdoor electrical outlets. Seriously! What next?
  • Macs seemed to be the laptop of choice at this particular Starbucks. I only noticed a couple of PCs.
  • People dress up for Starbucks. I saw plenty of kids come in wearing pajamas and sweats to buy coffee and leave, but most of the permanent patrons were dressed in business attire.
  • Everyone talks on the phone. Many people seem to treat Starbucks as their personal office, completing the same types of tasks they would in a professional setting: phone calls, interviews, cat videos.
  • No bags on the ground. Unlike boots*, there were very few bags on the floor. Instead, many served as chair-holders, perhaps saving seats for phantom “colleagues”?
  • No WIFI password. This surprised me, considering how many patrons were there for the sole purpose of using the free WIFI. Use of the restrooms, however, was very strictly enforced, with a lengthy numerical password that I’ve already forgotten. 29137?
  • People buy little more than the bare minimum. It looked like most people at least bought a cup of coffee before setting up camp, but I didn’t see a single person make a second purchase. I made sure to keep my iced coffee cup on my table even after I finished it, a tactic I picked up from some of the other more “seasoned”-looking patrons.

*I saw more pairs of cute black booties at Starbucks than I have all season. On both men and women. Interesting.

Concluding Thoughts

While I was able to get a good amount of studying done, it was pretty noisy and distracting at times. I could have put on headphones or faced a wall, but then I might as well have stayed home. Further questions remain, such as “How many of the same patrons will go back again tomorrow?” and “Is there a separate ‘morning crew’ and if so, in what ways do they differ from the ‘afternoon crew’?” Unfortunately, these questions will have to wait for another day and another coffee shop.

Reporter out.



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