Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's freezing in Starbucks

I'd like to say that I'm comfortably sitting and writing in a nice coffee house, but I'd be lying.  I'm FREEZING!

I've mentioned this many times to my friends, so forgive me if it seems like I'm on repeat, but I can't help it.  I'm cold!

When it's cold* outside, you might crave a nice cup of coffee and the warmth of a roaring fire [heater].  I certainly do.  But, for the life of me, I can't find a coffee house that's warm enough to be comfortable, be it Starbucks or Panera (not really a coffee house, but whatever).

This seems to be a  relatively new thing, but it's not letting up, it's getting worse!  I've even written letters to Starbucks to see what was up.  They always respond, but I don't think they really get it.  I'm envisioning that they call the store and tell them it's too cold, which prompts the manager to flip off the AC for a few minutes until someone says it's hot.  Problem solved!

I have a few theories on the reasons for the constant blasting of cold air.

New AC was installed, and it was probably cheap stuff.  It's probably underpowered, so it has to run constantly, blowing cold, cold air on the poor people under the vents.  Also, to save dough, there are no zones (plural), just one big zone (singular), with a thermostat next to those new ovens that they installed to make those breakfast sandwiches.  It's pretty hot over there.

Maybe that's why it got cold inside, but why is it still cold inside?

The workers are nice and warm from working.  The workers are behind the counters (where it might be warmer?).  They are near those ovens, after all.  They aren't cold, so they really don't want the air turned off.  I get that, as I used to work at a restaurant, and we (the workers) were always hot while the customer was nice and comfortable.  That's just how it works (or should work).

So, when they hear a complaint, they have no real incentive to fix things for the long run.  They really don't see it as an issue.  The turn it off, it warms up, people complain the other way, they flip it back on, and the cycle repeats until people stop complaining.

It's not very comforting to ask them to do something about it, anyway.  My favorite response to complaints of freezing is that they tell you that there's nothing they can do about it.  "It's controlled from Seattle," they've said more than once.

Some people think that this temperature thing is a plot to keep us drinking coffee OR to keep people from staying in Starbucks for too long.  I don't think so, because sometimes people come in and just turn around and leave without buying coffee.  I don't typically carry a thermometer around, but I did test it a few times, finding it as low as 60 degrees once, with the air still blowing strong and cold.  On that day, I had to go outside to work (it was a balmy 62 out there).

It's pervasive enough that you have to plan ahead.  Gal was here for a month, and we kept mental notes of which Starbucks were warm enough, providing you can find an outlet and a table far enough from the doors, of course.  But, you still have to keep a sweatshirt in the car, just in case.  So, it's not just me.  I have a witness!

For the longest time, I thought it was just Starbucks, but since the local Starbucks was pretty cold, I headed to a Panera and setup, despite that lurking feeling that it, also, was less than cozy...  I often think it's just me, since the shaved head makes me cold faster than it would a guy with hair, particularly when it's blowing right on my scalp, but after a guy came in a said "it's f****** cold!," I looked around.  There are people dressed up like Nanook in here and there's a kid actually shivering across the room.  I just spoke to the manager, who's "fixing" it.  Fingers crossed, right?  He'll probably warm us up, but the question remains; why does it get this cold in the first place?

Time to try a Peet's or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, I guess.  They might be warm.  Maybe I can call ahead.

I will say that the independent coffee houses do tend to be comfortably warm.  I think that's a sign that they pay their own bills, and don't want to overcool when they don't have to.  AC costs money to run, after all.

I'm about done with this rant, and we've stopped shivering here in Panera.  The manager even came out to ask if it's warm enough now.  I'll give this place the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was merely adjusted too low and/or not controlled from Seattle.  I'll be back in the neighborhood next week and we'll see.

*  I do realize that "California cold" is not the same as stepping outside to the snow drifts and glaciers that many of you have to live with .  I'm lucky that I can wear shorts to the store in the middle of February!  But, if I wear a jacket to keep myself warm enough to get to and from the car on a chilly day, I shouldn't have to worry about bringing a heavier jacket and a sweatshirt in case I need to meet a coworker for a cup of coffee later on.  My opinion...


  1. The first couple of places I had coffee after coming back to Bulgaria, I was thrilled to sit comfortably, with my jacket and scarf off. It's freezing cold and snow drifts outside, btw.

  2. There's a fireplace in our Panera ... I always try to sit next to it!

  3. That is why you should always go to Panera. I'm just sayin'

    1. We recently got a Panera here! It IS warm!

  4. Sitting in a Starbucks now, middle of winter... wondering why it's same temperature inside as it is outside. About 10 minutes ago one uncomfortable customer asked an employee to fix the situation, to which the response was that they couldn't do anything about it. Riiight. I hate to give up my daily routine here, but I simply cannot type on a computer with gloves!

    1. Yep... Yesterday, the AC was blowing the whole time. Frigid air blasting from the AC, even though it was already freezing

  5. The reason why all their refutations fail is because IT'S NOT FUCKING FREEZING AT ANY OTHER COFFEE SHOP OR ANY OTHER RETAIL BUSINESS THAT GENERATES HEAT. Making coffee generates a fraction of the heat than ANY restaurant with a front-store kitchen generates. FUCK YOU AND YOUR BULLSHIT EXCUSES, STARBUCKS!


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