On 14th Street NW, just around the corner from the Washington Post headquarters is a small Starbucks attached to the Hamilton Hotel. It’s the perfect place to grab coffee before heading to the office to start compiling the next day’s paper or when you’re in dire need of a croissant on a short break. As the mitochondria is to the cell, I assumed this
Starbucks was the powerhouse of Washington Post journalists.
The inside of the Starbucks was not made to push any boundaries of design or inspire any onlookers. Large colored tiles, the same you would see in a Taco Bell or Burger King, line the floor. Four green and purple walls adorned with tacky abstract art boxed me in. Right in front of the door, there are stands full of blonde roast and Starbucks logo cups waiting to be purchased. Resisting the urge to participate in their capitalist game, I approached the long counter that ran the length of the wall to the right. After studying the compact and adjective filled menu that hung from the wall, I settled upon an economically friendly bagel with cream cheese. The kind baristas at the register gave it to me in exchange for my last two American dollars in the entire world.
Upon receiving my bagel, I was shocked and upset to find out that I was responsible for putting the cream cheese on it myself. Searching for a place to cheese my bagel, I realized that there were only two small tables in store. There was plenty of empty space for more. A conscious decision had been made to limit the seating. This Starbucks wasn’t a place to sit down and study, or in this case compose a piece for the Washington Post; it was a place to pay
for coffee and leave.
Looking at Yelp reviews left for the Starbucks, I discovered that other people had noticed this peculiar lack of tables. It was an obvious departure from the typical Starbucks where one expects to sit down and enjoy the cozy coffee shop environment the company strives to maintain. According to Google’s business statistics, customers at the Hamilton’s Starbucks will spend an average of fifteen minutes or less in the store. I compared this to the times of other Starbucks stores in the area, and wasn’t surprised to find that most had a much higher average of of forty-five minutes.
It became clear to me that this Starbucks was not meant to add anything to the neighborhood it occupies. The Yelp reviews left by residents of the District turned out overwhelmingly negative, most credited to the layout of the store and slow WiFi. The Yelp reviews of the Hamilton Hotel painted the Starbucks in a completely different light. If a guest leaving a review of the hotel commented on the Starbucks attached to it, they invariably said it was a nice, convenient amenity. Judging by this, the Hamilton gave the Starbucks a storefront on the street to make more money, not to serve the Washington Post and not to serve the community.