Columns, Opinion

Wake Me Up Boston: Navigating Boston University — one Starbucks at a time

Starbucks — the Seattle-based coffee shop chain that has taken over the world, one pumpkin spice latte at a time. Typically spotted on the severely long lines: Ugg-wearing, Lululemon clad, caffeine-starved and selfie-obsessed young people, usually passing the waiting time on their iPhones. Not that I am one to judge, of course, as Starbucks visits have quickly developed into one of my frequent pastimes since beginning college at Boston University.

While “basic” is the most popular term associated with the Starbucks chain, I’m writing this column because I am opposed to that notion. Starbucks may be a common American landmark with mediocre drinks, but there is something more to it than first meets the eye.

I’ll begin with the Starbucks closest to my East Campus residence, Warren Starbucks. The Warren Starbucks has held a place close to my heart since the beginning of freshman year, when I lived as a prisoner in the miserable institution known as Warren Towers.

OK, truth be told it wasn’t quite that bad, but something about the perpetual smell of vomit circulating through the fluorescent-lit halls and the globs of hair in the crusty sinks of the communal bathrooms still has me shuddering. While Warren definitely had its setbacks, I began to view the Warren Starbucks as the replacement to my actual dorm on the eighth floor, with its comfortable seating, fireplace and clear views of bustling Comm. Ave.

After enough visits to this Starbucks, it became easy to keep track of the times it was its most busy and most calm — each has its benefits, depending on my mood. That one barista would know my order by heart (a grande cappuccino, if anybody was wondering), and the barstools by the window would call my name — the perfect front row seat for people-watching. It was this comfort and familiarity that had me hooked. Along with Pavement, Warren Starbucks has seen my friendships develop and fade, but most of all, it is home to many memories that will stay with me forever.

The Questrom Starbucks has its own unique vibe that I appreciate when my mood aligns. I can’t say it’s my go-to Starbucks destination, as my strictly COM roots hardly intersect with the Questrom building in the slightest, but every now and then, I find myself waiting for a cup of Joe in their insanely long line.

This Starbucks location is ideal for big groups tackling a project or studying for a test, in the company of many other big groups doing the exact same thing. Knowing there are others surrounding me in the same position, drinking some type of caffeinated drink to aggressively stimulate away the stress amongst constant chatter makes me feel relieved.

While Warren Starbucks can be conducive to both solo and group studying, I find that Questrom Starbucks thrives on hosting larger crowds, especially given how most of the tables are set up in a communal style. Questrom Starbucks has not seen me in Uggs, but might have seen me in Lululemon leggings. I go to this Starbucks not for the brand, but for the environment it creates.

Last but not least, the Starbucks next to the Boston Common holds its own special charm, with its central location in the midst of the sprawling lawns of the city. Although not the most spacious Starbucks, something about this one has me feeling tingly with excitement, with the knowledge that I am surrounded by an array of other cafes, restaurants and shops, only a few footsteps away. I walk into this Starbucks when I’m seeking a breath of fresh air, a common ground to gain my bearings and decide what adventure to tackle next. Each of these Starbucks are much more than the drinks they serve, but rather the comforting safe haven they provide.

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