Starbucks: big brand, grab-and-go coffee

Located tucked away in a corner of The Atrium in Arnitzen Hall on the Western Washington University Campus, Starbucks is one of the popular grab-and-go coffee stops for WWU students. Whether it’s the convenience of the location or the addiction to coffee that debilitates many, numerous students are willing to make the wait for Starbuck’s coffee daily.

There are three ways to get to the line that leads to the Starbucks counter, but the door leading from the outside always has the heaviest flow of traffic; probably because it’s the quickest escape from the cold and the rain.

Although every table was filled, a little less than half the seats remained empty; most likely due to the fact that out of everyone sitting in the area only three tables had people sharing company.

Maybe it’s because I went on a Monday, but the line seemed especially long for it being after noon. In the line of seventeen, all clearly attended Western Washington University as students, except for one woman. She was the only one old enough to possibly be a professor and she had degree of professionalism about her that the others alongside her did not. Clearly the wait for Starbucks draws out more than just students.

People waiting stared at the menu as if they didn’t already have a drink order in their head when they joined the line. It’s clear because no one would be willing to wait in that line except for the avid coffee drinker, most of whom could probably recite the Starbucks menu by heart. I finally got to the front of the line and it’s almost as if I could hear everyone waiting behind me roll their eyes and groan as I spit out my confusing drink order, “grande peppermint white chocolate mocha with soy milk”, and tell them my name, even though I know they’ll inevitably misspell it.

By this time people have begun to tap their feet and stare at the time intently, as if they can feel their fate setting in with each passing second and despite their best efforts they’re going to be late. It’s not their fault though. The poor placement of the Starbucks location in the building leaves little room for the line and the chaotic mess of people standing around often makes the line seem longer than it really is.

Although I got through the line, the waiting game wasn’t over yet. Everyone huddles and crowds around the pick-up counter, almost as if they stand close enough they might find a way to get their drink before everyone else. When their name is called and the order’s finally ready, you can hear a quick exchange of “thank you” and “have a nice day” muttered before the hurried students take off running, most likely for a class they’re late for or a bus they have to catch. It doesn’t stop there for those behind the counter however, who all move quickly about with looks of distress on their faces as they got one person through the line and a group of three more joined on the end.

With at least three other locations on campus where you can get coffee, it’s a wonder why so many students are willing to wait for Starbucks specifically. It’s true that the quality of Starbucks coffee, all though far from superb, is enough to keep you satisfied, but with other, and possibly better, options on campus the question still remains: why Starbucks? Students aren’t the only ones willing to make the wait for Starbucks as either. Many don’t realize in this day and age how drawn to the big name brands they are, and more often than not will go out of their way to buy from them. The truth is that buying local not only supports and generates the local economy, but often has a better quality to it and lower prices. With an opportunity to support local on almost every block, maybe it’s time to look at whether or not waiting in the long line with the familiar logo is really worth it.