The "Stealthy Starbucks
" is one coffee shop that you will probably never get to visit, since ya know, it's in the CIA. The regulars aren't just customers, they are federal agents, analysts, covert workers, engineers, etc. This Starbucks is the only one that won't get your name wrong, because they can't use your name at all. And even though this Starbucks is possibly the busiest
one on earth, it's also probably filled with eerily quiet lines of coffee lovers.
Though the shop looks like every other Starbucks, there are no gold cards or rewards because that data could fall in the wrong marketers hands and all the baristas go throw intense and detailed interviews and background checks. They even have their own agency "minders" who escort them to and from their work place. Among the yellow wooden seats, the leather armchairs, and promos for pumpkin spice lattes, the supervisor says he can hear customers practicing their language skills, probably trying to drown out the terrible music that always plays in the background. The baristas are also briefed about security risks all the time, just in case someone becomes too interested and "asks too many questions" about their jobs.
"Coffee culture is just huge in the military, and many in the CIA come from that culture," stated Vince Houghton, who is an intelligence expert and curator at the International Spy Museum. "This is a population who have to be alert and spend hours pouring through document. If they miss a word, people can die." During the day they say the most frequent orders
are vanilla lattes and lemon poundcake. At night the officers and agents go for espressos, Frappuccinos, and and anything with loads of sugar in it.
And even though they can't learn or even write down people's names, they still know their customers, "caramel-macchiato guy," "iced white mocha woman." One barista said, "I have no idea what they do, I just know they need coffee, a lot of it."
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