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.
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.
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.