Similar to the correlation between New York City and Delis, there seem to be Starbucks' everywhere in L.A.. I pass about three on my way to work everyday. I usually try to go to local coffee shops and avoid national/regional chains when I have the option. Well, in my corner of L.A., there isn't much of an option. It's Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks ... or the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. I tried this alternative, but did not find their coffee to be that great. Since I am often sent by my superiors to go get coffee orders from the local Starbucks, I have since become accustomed to patroning this corner store (paired with a Barnes & Noble). The baristas there are great - they rarely mess up orders, they are very personable, and the drinks they make are consistently good. Mind you, not every Starbucks is like this. In fact, most of the ones I have been to have gone down in quality ever since I've been in college.
Needless to say, I often go to this Starbucks for several hours on my days off to sip coffee and read. Thanks to this rigorous regimen, I have completed A History of Histories with a month to spare. I also use the time to knit, to listen to music, to read a book abotu producing, and to chip away at books for script coverages.
There are some regulars. First, the baristas. There is one very happy blonde girl who always smiles and remembers my name. I try to avoid the loud Eastern European lady sho gives me a headache every time I approach the cash register. There are a couple of homeless people who hang out outside begging for coffee. I occassionally end up talking to people who sit near to me. One lady had a baby who kept giving me the most serious, sarcastic baby-face ever! He was so adorable... I did run into one creepy guy who obviously woke up on the wrong, drug addled side of the Sixties. That made me leave Starbucks in a hurry. Oftentimes, my knitting attracts stares (apparently they haven't seen people knit before).
My favorite days at the corner coffee shop are cloudy, cold, seaside mornings that beg for a Grande White Chocolate Mocha with whip cream and whole milk:) Just me, my coffee, my knitting, and my book.