Starbucks was created with the intention of becoming "the third place". This is a term made common by many sociologist circles, which says people commonly exist at home and work, and we all need a third place where we escape and socialize for socialization's sake. A place where we have more informal public existence! Most non-American cultures have some third place as a common staple to their culture.
There are a variety of reasons these third places are so attractive and beneficial. One of which is their ability to equalize, to level, to bring together those who would not normally do so.
This speaks to a tendency our culture does have toward networks rather than neighborhoods. Neighborhoods are increasingly exclusive, and on a very small level networks have the potential not to be so exclusive.
Of course, by "network", I mean those realms and places we exist most outside of home and work (coffee shops, bars, cafes, etc.)...these are our "third places". Some of these places (far from all) are places exempt of pretense and comparisons. They are havens from the divisions we place on ourselves outside of them.
At this moment, I am at my coffee shop and I see a doctor working next to a dirty hipster, who is next to a man with ragged clothes and an unkempt beard. Its like a living timeline of American success or importance on one couch. This is the allure of our networks.
If even for a matter of moments, status is put on hold and comparisons at an impasse.
For those literate to Christian lingo, this is fellowship.
These networks are where the mighty descend and the lowly rise. That leveled-out place is a stress killer for everyone.
LISTENING TO: "The End Is Not The End" by House of Heroes