Breaking Up With Starbucks: A Chicago Freelancer’s Confession

A tall cup of coffee will suffice.

Freelance writing at StarbucksWe all do it, we all procrastinate. The solution was Starbucks. They are everywhere. Pick a neighborhood, pick an intersection. They range from cozy, to downright cramped to quite peaceful actually, especially if you are partaking in Starbucks evenings (after 2 pm please).

This relationship got serious when I joined the rewards program. I would leave Starbucks to go to another Starbucks in the name of not going home without my work done. I have become acquainted with a few Starbucks. Those in Edgewater/Andersonville, in Lakeview, in Gold Coast/OldTown/Viagra Triangle.

First things first, all Starbucks are not created equal. There are ones with comfy chairs, numerous decor, and jazz playing in the background or there are ones with show tunes and ear budded, hoodie-wearing students studying for the bar in others.There are friendly baristas, and there are work-oriented ones.

West Armitage Starbucks:

The best Starbucks to go to is off the Armitage brown line at West Armitage. The baristas are so nice. It gets fairly busy, but after 6 pm starts to die down. The West Armitage Starbucks is a perfect spot to get your work done and then easily meet up with someone afterwards. There are tons of bars just a few blocks north near the Fullerton red line, and if you don’t want to walk, there are a few bars across the street.

Gold Coast & Old Town Starbucks:

Then, you have the Starbucks on Dearbon and Division in the Gold Coast. This Starbucks has high-top tables. It is not convenient for collaborative projects, but  rather solo endeavors. The baristas are nice and the facilities are clean. You might just freeze to death in the winter here because a lot of people go in and out. It’s not really a place that too many people linger. But note that it is open to 11 pm most nights—an added bonus.

People bring all sorts of food to Starbucks like Chipotle, but nothing compares to the 24 hour Starbucks in Old Town, where study groups bring picnics complete with banana bread. Lakeview StarbucksThe Old Town Starbucks is perfect for study sessions, chess matches, reading, or intense studying. There is constant traffic and most of the time, especially on Sunday afternoons, tables and outlets can be scarce. But, this Starbucks is big, and the windows bring in the warmth of the Chicago sun (when it comes out). For spending a day inside, it almost feels like you were actaully outside.

The prettiest Starbucks is the one on Oak and Rush across the street from Barney’s. You can order your Malbec and sit on the balcony for hours in the summer. The only drawback is that there are no outlets outside. Inside is perfectly beautiful and inspiring. I would go there to read. Though wine and other alcohol is involved, there is still a great deal of focus, minimal banter.

Edgewater Starbucks:

The Starbucks on Bryn Mwar in Edgewater has spotty internet. Fair warning. The baristas are nice. There is cozy seating, but it’s not a place I like to go. The one a sub-neighborhood away in Andersonville has a more focused, professional vibe. You can take the #22 Clark bus or walk the half mile from the Berwyn red line. Either way, it has ample indoor and outdoor seating and plenty of outlets and espresso to recharge. One of the baristas added three shots of espresso to my coffee—on the house.

Despite the options and the various atmospheres that one name can create, I’m breaking up with Starbucks. I have found other coffee shops with food that actually tastes good. There is a particular scent to Starbucks that turns quite foul after a few hours. Honestly, the Chicago libraries are quite nice.

And so now I am a Ghost texter. I receive the reoccurring emails from Starbucks trying to lure me back: “Join Now and Earn Five Bonus Points”. They even sent me a gold card in the mail and put my name on it. Truly, the perks have not changed. Starbucks simply recognized that we have been seeing each other a lot lately and it was time for an upgrade, but I’m not ready to move in.

Maybe I just need to take a break, but for now this freelancer got her gold star and does not want to keep it.

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