My drink of choice is a skinny hazelnut latte. The bitter coffee flavor is buried under the milk and syrup, and I get all the benefits of the milk and coffee, which means it's kind of nutritional. But, it's not really the drinks or the food (which is quite good) that keep me coming to the 'Bucks.
Nearly every Bucks I've visited is filled with friendly baristas and a kind of small-town atmosphere. The regular baristas at my most frequented location know my drink and one girl used to just ask me 'hot or cold today?'. They smile, ask how you're doing and maybe talk about some local events. People frequently make conversation while standing around waiting for drinks. Perhaps it's the relaxed atmosphere of people enjoying a nice warm caffeinated drink, but people chat with each other and make conversation with strangers. It's the closest thing to sitting in some little sidewalk cafe in Italy (I know it's quite a stretch, but it's the best we've got in suburbia!).
The other day as I was leaving with my drink and my 3 year old, a young mother with a baby in a carseat carrier was opening the door for me and meanwhile a man saw and ran over to open the door for her. And it was only at Starbucks that I got caught several times in a 'pay it forward' line following the Newtown tragedy. There doesn't seem to be anything else quite like a good coffee shop to bring people together.
In our fast paced, electronic age it's nice to chat with others and get to know our neighbors. That just doesn't happen at many other places. Despite being a huge corporation that has certainly put some smaller cofee shops out of business, they have good products, they are consistent, they have a great rewards program and they do the overall package really well. I love to sit in Starbucks and blog, work or share a weekend breakfast with my kids. It makes me feel like our world isn't quite so big.