Actually working at Starbucks wasn’t cool by any stretch of the imagination. It was my first and only corporate job, with its corresponding dress code (khakis, collared shirts, no tattoos) and business practices standardized to a point well past common sense (the temperature, I was told, was controlled remotely, from an office at HQ in the Midwest).
I worked with a number of rosy-cheeked middle-aged women who could quote the company’s binders of promotional materials verbatim. They anticipated Pumpkin Spice Latte season with a terrifying, giddy excitement. One had a "How to Make a Mocha" poster hung in her home, above her living room couch. On the weekends, they got together with their boyfriends—many of whom worked at a Starbucks across town—and made cocktails out of Starbucks-branded coffee liqueur. The motivational posters and the mandatory lunch breaks and the incremental raises every six months or so, practices ripped straight from a corporate (albeit paper-pushing) culture increasingly on the downswing, created an effusive sense of brand identification among its employees I hadn’t imagined before and haven't seen since.
I transferred stores twice, and though I wouldn’t recognize it until later, there was already something uniquely banal about my interactions with the customers at Starbucks.
She later moves on to independent coffee shops, including one in Greenpoint where the application asks her to list her five favorite bands and answer the question, "New York Magazine or The New Yorker?" She experiences the "solidarity economy" as well as "the practice of exploiting a vulnerable service class to build a playground for the wealthy." And... Well, you just need to read the whole thing.