[LJ1: Describe a scene]

In the early morning, Starbucks is almost empty.  The wide space is littered with minimalist furniture, like skeletons of the groups that will form later on, as the students drag themselves unwillingly from their beds.  There is a path between the scattered flocks of tables and chairs, leading from the entrance points to the counter, where bleary-eyed twenty-somethings will queue, shifting instrument cases from one shoulder to another, consulting phone or iPod screens, and impatiently switching their weight from foot to foot.

The scents most commonly associated with students – those of Lynx, failure, regret, toast and that slight hint of damp – all meld together with the almost-acrid aroma of brewing coffee.  It is bitter, almost to the point of unpaletability, saved only by the rich undertones.  The smell of warm milk and cinnamon mixes with the brackish coffee, combining to produce a delicious aroma, not unlike that of the overpriced lattes they serve, tantalising the taste buds and drawing you towards the till.

There is never true silence in Starbucks.  There is always the hiss of the milk steamer, the chatter of students, the clearing of throats, the start-up tone of laptops, dropping of various sheets, notepads or even precious electronics, followed closely by a stream of profanities and a then a sigh of relief as it’s discovered that nothing has been damaged.  In the case of the nerdier folk, there may be a conversation between them and the aforementioned hardware, with apologies and promises to never let them fall again.  But, such topics are best not discussed.  There is also the stray chord struck on guitar strings or lilting notes of laughter – sometimes like bell chimes, but mostly a gale of guffaws – surfacing above it all periodically, before being overwhelmed again by the hubbub.

In the scattered array of Formica tables and chairs, groups assemble, huddling around MacBooks, strumming guitars and subconsciously competing for owner of the most ironic t-shirt.  They laugh sarcastically, and loudly discuss, in superior tones, the vacuous crap that seems part and parcel of hipsterdom.  Occasionally, one drifts from the drove to play a piece on the slightly-out-of-tune piano, that mummy and daddy would have paid for them to learn when they were seven, so that that could be shown off to adoring aunties and doting grandparents.  It may have been cute then, but it usually only serves to annoy other patrons until they finish with a flourish [impressing no-one] and retreat back to the safety of the herd.

The ceiling is quite an interesting aspect of Starbucks. It is very high, almost twice as high as that of a normal room. It is off white in colour with brown-painted steel girders criss-crossing to form complicated patterns made up of triangles.  The centre of the ceiling is dominated by a large glass construction, that cannot be described with as simple a word as ‘window’.  It is made up of four identical hollow pyramids of glass, placed in a square, supported by grey metal beams.  It is of complicated, yet symmetrical design, much like the maze of girders on the ceiling surrounding it.  It is so immense, and of such meticulous design that it flings light into almost every crevice of the room it is placed above.

It, and the jungle of girders and beams, combine to cast jagged shadows across the pulsing mass of students and the impossibly clean marble floor below, ever shifting with the movement of clouds and the sun across the sky as the day progresses.  There is additional light, added to banish any hint of darkness away, in the form of large halogen lamps suspended on wires and half-hooded with almost futuristic style semi-domes of thin, brushed steel.  This effectively leaves no corner untouched by light, and lends a sharpness to the kaleidoscope of colours below. The varying styles and shades of clothing, dyed hair and personalities, some louder than others, and the diversity in colour, race, interests and physique, all harmonize [unlike some of the music students who insist on playing within earshot] in the temple that is Starbucks, and is devoted to all of those that are
‘Passionate About Coffee’