I started visiting the 1st Starbucks in our area, on Bluemound Rd in Brookfield, shortly after they opened. I was there almost every weekday morning sitting at the same table (as avail) reading books, magazines, .... and drinking my coffee from about 8-9AM. Knew all the employees. Met a number of other regulars.
My job changed and since I live blocks from Hwy 100 & Greenfield, and work around the Fair Park, when they opened that location, I moved to there. Again, every week day morning, almost always the same table. Reading, drinking coffee and talking to people I knew or would meet there. I knew all the employees. In fact my youngest son got a job there. I had a specific drink we all called, the "Anti-Christ" (another story?). At times there would be 8-10 or more of us sitting around yakking, drinking our coffee, having a good time.
During this time an old friend happened to stop for coffee. We became neighbors when we were each 1.5 years old, grew up together, were each's "Best Man", the whole thing. But we had not seen each other for some years. So he started to stop in 2-3 times a week also.
Leading up to the '04 election cycle, he being a staunch Republican and me being an even "stauncher Deaniac" Democrat we had some discussions. Never hostile, never excessively loud, never even angry. We always laughed and wished each other well when leaving. Good fun really. And others around us would join in. Some on each side. We also talked about music (especially the local Blues scene), sports, religion, ....
We were the poster children of Starbucks marketing program:
"The Way I See It
What prompted Starbucks to begin this program?
Starbucks has long been dedicated to creating a unique "third place" between home and work. We also draw on the centuries-old tradition of the coffeehouse as a place to gather, share ideas, and enjoy delicious beverages. We see this program as an extension of the coffeehouse culture – a way to promote open, respectful conversation among a wide variety of individuals."