31 People(s): Starbucks Lovers

This was supposed to be one of those funny Saturday posts, but I’m behind so you get it on Sunday Monday instead! As you know, or should, I frequent Starbucks.  In fact, I’m sitting at one of my favorite tables in my favorite Starbucks right now. I’ve been frequenting the same Starbucks for at least 4-ish years. For the first year, I was mostly one of the drive-thru goers trying to earn my gold card spending a little too much money on fancy drinks. Back story: I used to HATE coffee back in early college days. I wanted to be a coffee drinker badly, so I worked my way into liking it first with frappuccinos and next by adding hot cocoa to my hot coffee. I now LOVE coffee in most forms. I still enjoy frappuccinos and fancy drinks, but my daily drink is simple and delicious – iced coffee, light ice, 2% milk. If I want some sweetness I add a pump or two of toffeenut (or pumpkin spice or caramel brûlée if they’re in season).

Because of my aforementioned friend Brittany, I soon discovered the beauty of being a Starbucks “regular.” Time with Jesus drew me to this place I love (serious thankful paragraph with more on that at the end), but the community of being a regular made it feel like a homey place which kept me coming back for more Jesus time, a go-to place to hang out with friends, a fix for my coffee addiction, the occasional Starbucks crush, and my favorite place to write. And so because I love this place, it’s community, it’s beverages, it’s beverage makers, and my fellow Starbucks Lovers, I must tell you about them as part of this 31 People(s) I love journey.

The baristas: As a 4 year vet, I’ve seen a lot of fancy coffee makers come and go, and I’ve loved, and not loved, many of the ones no longer with us! Two of those must be mentioned. Sy and Cliff. Sy is hands down my favorite barista ever. She was the first barista who ever memorized my orders! They do this I’m sure because it makes their job quicker, but having a barista know your order by heart is like when a cute baby you know calls you KK for the first time! It’s warm and fuzzy. Brittany, who literally insisted every barista and regular be her friend, became friends with Sy, and then coolest story, eventually got to baptize her! Sy always made the perfect drinks and became one of my friends and favorite people. She makes coffee in Atlanta now, but we miss her here. Cliff was another Brittany connection. She eventually convinced him to go to her church, and he was THE BEST! He encouraged our tattoo habits, occasionally sneaked me free drinks, and was the friendliest. Now my early morning coffee makers are Maddie (all the heart eyes, love her), Tasha (LOVE, and we share a love for PSLs), Brooke (more heart eyes), Jakel (we had a rocky start, but he was nice to me the other day and is an efficient drink maker), the cool girl with the tattoos (why can’t I remember names?!), Seth 2, and lots of recent new kids who are super sweet and great and whose names I have shamefully not learned yet! I occasionally go at night or in the afternoons and see more familiar faces like Seth 1 and Taylor. I am reminded from writing this that I need to commit their names to memory, geez, but they seriously make my mornings with their coffee making (duh), friendliness, morning pleasantries, the way they appreciate and take care of their regulars, and how they go above and beyond to remember drinks and make a business feel homey.

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The regulars: Oh the regulars! I tend to be in my own world when I’m here and often put my headphones in and shut people out. Britt taught me a lot about being interruptable and taking the time to see these people as my neighbors. I used to be part of the 7:45 – 8:50 morning crowd, which is admittedly more active and awake. I’m now part of the 6:30 – 7:40 morning crowd. And then sometimes I’m part of the mid-morning – late afternoon Saturday crowd. A staple and one of my favs in the later morning crowd is Wheezy! She’s loved by ALL (Jakel LOVES here, and only tolerates most people), she wears horse shirts, brings her own mug, and I mean, her name is Wheezy (it’s on her license plate!). She has a spot. And if you are a regular, you just don’t sit in her spot and you try everything you can to save it for her. Note: most regulars have spots, but most of us are willing to mix it up. It just seems wrong when Wheezy isn’t in her spot. Wheezy hangs out with some other people who seem equally as great, but she gave me farm fresh eggs once for saving her spot, so obvs she’s my fav. There is Cowboy, as Britt called him, who reads a newspaper, has a wicked mustache, and always asks me how Brittany is doing and when she’s moving back (we both wish that would happen!) There’s the theologian who will talk your ear off if you let him, but he is SO full of wisdom, has crazy bed head, is always reading a book, and drinks iced coffee in a for here cup because he says it tastes better that way (I didn’t know that was a thing for cold coffee until I saw him doing it). There’s Monica the nurse who orders a different drink every day, is cute as a button, and always stops to talk. There are the groups of one day a week people who meet together to talk about the Bible. There’s the group of marathon running people who meet on Thursdays. There’s the sweet lady who orders a chocolate banana smoothie every other day. And then there are the crushes. Watch this music video before you proceed, because why not?

As you may have picked up on from previous posts, I’m prone to crushes. These aren’t the heart-shattering, obsessive kinds of crushes. These are the kinds of crushes that make life a little more fun. The kind where if they actually talked to you or asked you out you probably wouldn’t be interested anymore. The platonic, mysterious, you have a beard or a cute smile so I’m gonna like seeing you here types of crushes. I had a RA once who had the best philosophy on crushes. She believed that it was perfectly okay to have a crush at all the places you frequent. Gym crush. Caf crush. English comp crush. Starbucks crush. I think I’ve only had three Starbucks crushes. I won’t tell you about all of them, but I’ll tell you about the current because again, why not?? If my life was a RomCom (or a Taylor Swift song/parody or an early 2000s indie love song) this would be the beginning of an adorable meet-cute.

SBC (Starbucks Crush) is another early morning regular. I noticed him this summer because he had a great beard and glasses. Then I saw that he too drove a station wagon! Bearded and quirky are two of my must qualities, so duh. Linds and Anna sometimes end up at Starbucks in the mornings, so I had to tell them (and Sara) about his endearing qualities. Linds was determined to catch a glimpse, but kept missing him. The one day she got there on time HE HAD SHAVED THE BEARD DOWN TO A HIDEOUS MUSTACHE! I texted her, “ABORT MISSION. The beard is gone and the mustache is GROSS. No more SBC. Must find a new one.” And then he disappeared! He had an out of state licence plate, so I just decided he was here for the summer and had gone back home. Well, he’s back! He sits at the corner lighted table. I sit at the middle lighted table facing him (because I like to watch the sunrise, and he’s cute). He drinks simple, black, hot coffee. I drink simple, splash of milk, cold coffee. The mustache is gone, the beard hasn’t fully returned, but he still has the glasses and the quirky car and the ability to have a fierce beard, so I let him remain in his position as SBC. Our station wagons are sometimes friends, parked side by side, and have gotten way closer to actually talking than we likely ever will, but SBC is fun to look at, and I’m not sad about that. You know I like to add extra (clean) fun and sparkle to life in any way I can, and crushes do that. Who doesn’t love a few fluttering tummy butterflies and/or the occasional blushing moment when your friend is way too obviously trying to read what his name badge says (thanks Linds)? Note: SBC’s name is still unknown.

So now for that serious moment. Before my dad died, I really didn’t have consistent time with Jesus. I wrote two really long posts once about how hanging out at Starbucks with Jesus transformed my spiritual walk and led to captivated, intimate time with Him, which radically changed me in ways I never imagined. You can read those here and here. To borrow my own words,

“I was really good at believing I was capable of doing life in my own strength, with my own knowledge. When my dad died on November 18th, 2012, there was no strength or knowledge that I had to prepare me for that grief. In desperation, I told Jesus I’d actually try spending time with Him for two weeks, fully believing that even He couldn’t bring peace or healing to my grief. I gave a feeble attempt at an inch, and He pursued me back miles and miles.” 

I know “coffee and the word” is a Christian Instagram cliche. But the act of giving God my first fruits – the first part of my day, and learning to set a table for a date with Jesus, regardless of how cliche it is, is the main thing that reminds me of everything I need to remember. That I’m broken and fallen and sinful to my core. That without the Holy Spirit living in me, I’m wretched. Grief stripped away my ability to believe I could do life in my own strength. I can’t. I don’t want to. I need Jesus to sustain me. I need to read God’s word so I remember and cling to His promises. I need to spend time with Jesus so I am reminded of what He’s like so that through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can treat people and love people like He would. I need prayer so I can invite the Holy Spirit in to fight for me, guide me, convict me, and teach me. I will always be a Starbucks Lover because it’s where I meet with Jesus, it’s where I get gold stars, it’s where I do some of my best writings, and it’s where I’m reminded that the word neighbor of the “love your neighbors” command doesn’t fit into a neat little only next door people box.

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This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.

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