They're on every block in every major city you visit, just like McDonald's. Yet each Starbucks can be different, especially with the clientele that frequents each chain. I've had my fair share of these coffee stops in Los Angeles, including a fair share of run-ins with the eclectic individuals who can be found week after week lining up for exotically named cups of java...
Starbucks on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood (next to the Ramada Inn): Known for its ample patio seating (allowing caffeine addicts to cruise and drool over the hardbodies that walk in an out of the 24-Hour Fitness gym across the street), this WeHo landmark is also perfect for a tall non-fat latte after brown-bagging some dinner at the Trader Joe's next door.
Starbucks at Westwood and Olympic: Totally for on-the-go, Bluetooth-wearing production execs who work in Culver City or asshole suits who dominate the skyscrapers of Century City. One morning I ran into Jerry O'Connell there while he was glued to his cell phone, apparently in a heated conversation with Rebecca Romjin.
Starbucks at Sunset and Gower: Get past the Bebe-wearing tranny outside, say hello to the secretive thugs hunched over their macchiatos and be careful not to interrupt the Asian students diligently working on their laptops in the corner window...and enjoy a Grande white mocha before the gangs invade the Denny's across the way.
Starbucks on Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks (next to Petco): Britney's been known to stop by this Valley shop to pick up her signature Venti frapp - of course this was during the K-Fed Era, long before she "cleaned up" her act and once again became a puppet to her manager and cheese-grits-chewin' dad. And there's plenty of parking for paparazzi SUVs.
Starbucks on Main Street in Santa Monica: The spot for on-hiatus writers looking to extend their development deals with any given network. Laptops always open, herbal tea always in hand, cell phone always ready to speed-dial their agents and lit managers.
Starbucks at the Beverly Connection on La Cienega: A rest stop for shoppers coming off the escalators of the Beverly Center. These are usually out-of-towners who have just taken advantage of the sales at H&M and Bloomies and who are under the impression that this is "how them L.A. folk shop," oblivious to the fact that Robertson Boulevard is just three blocks away.
Starbucks at the Farmers Market: A haven for the AARP crowd after a nice brisket lunch at the New York Deli and a rendezvous point for the housewives of Hancock Park who venture out to the Grove for a little Crate and Barrel action.
Starbucks on Lincoln Blvd. in Venice: One of the few drive-thrus in the city, this chain was where I once served Helen Hunt a tall latte over six years ago. Also known for its occasional beach bums who wander in for a tall Brew of the Day with the change they've collected off the Pier.
Starbucks on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu: Great for a pick-me-up on the way to Santa Barbara (via the scenic route) and great for eyeing the countless celebs who pop in after long walks on their private beaches. Less beach bums. More hot surfers.