Starbucks and Christianity

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

As I sit here in Starbucks working away, I have witnessed several things:

  • When I walked in I started talking to a youth pastor friend of mine for a while (love when that happens)
  • I witnessed 2 Bible studies
  • I talked to the senior minister of the church I attend as he worked on his sermon

Now I do not know about you, but there is something about starbucks that draws every christian and their mom to this place. Maybe it is because the coffee has been blessed by the Pope or something, but this is the place to be if you are a Christian.

I wonder, why do Christians love Starbucks so much?

(I hope Leonard Sweet reads this, he wrote a little book about this)


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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • David Mehrle

    Is it because Christians are trying to be cool? Is it because it is the only social place to meet in the morning? Are Christians the only ones not in the office working?

    You tell me…

    • @kylelreed

      Great questions…
      I think the main reason is this (theorizing here). About 5 or 6 years ago starbucks was the new cool place to be. Most would describe it as a place that “liberals” worked at college students would be found at. Christians, seeing as it being a cool place to meet and also talk with others, started investigating and going. Over the years it has now moved from a “witnessing field” to a “home base” for christians. I think that is one of the main reasons, it was trendy to go there a couple of years ago, now it has turned into a fast food coffee place that people want to get in and out of.

      The last question also intrigued me as well. I do see other business men and women come in, but they are not there setting up shop to work. Usually there for about 15 minutes and then on their way. On the other hand, I can spot a minister from a mile away. Laptop and two books, goatee and some jeans on is a dead give away.

      What would you say?

      • David Mehrle

        “On the other hand, I can spot a minister from a mile away. Laptop and two books, goatee and some jeans on is a dead give away”

        Love this comment. I agree that with everything there is a trending time and a time when it just becomes a business like everything else. When you get into the urban america places like Starbucks can keep a trendy identity for a much longer time than in suburbia. It is a great place to go and get out of the office and most minister's can do that when many other business people are there to meet someone and get on to the next thing that needs to be don.

        Just my thoughts!

        • @kylelreed

          I think it would be funny if starbucks went out of business because christians took over the place and ran off all their customers.

  • Mark Blake

    I don't think it has as much to do with Starbucks itself as much as it has to do with the availability of a place like Starbucks and the type of work that is done in ministry.

    First, I think that the primary reason that Starbucks is 'it' is because Starbucks is everywhere in Suburbia. It is the symbol of suburban excess, our $4.65 latte in the morning and at night. And Starbucks is everywhere. Because it has the financial reach of a huge multinational corporation, it can afford to open hundreds and hundreds of stores everywhere, including the farthest suburb.

    So you've got the service industry – including Starbucks – in the suburbs and you've got the churches in the suburbs because that's where all of the people are on the weekends.

    People in ministry have a very interesting work environment – they are only “open for business” on Sundays, Wednesdays, and when they have events, and while they may have offices they might not have office hours that they must adhere to.

    So these lucky ministry folks have the ability – for the most part – to work from wherever they want.

    In general, you wouldn't go to a sit-down restaurant to get some work done for a long period of time. Nor would you go to a park – no wifi, the weather might happen, etc. Some deli's like McAlister's or Jason's do have wifi and because there is no table service, staying for long periods of time is not shunned.

    But where are you going to go if you aren't that hungry and don't want to spend much money – comparatively? A coffee shop.

    And Starbucks is usually your only – if not one of the very few – options because the spread-out nature of Suburbia makes it hard for independent coffee shops – with limited brand recognition, advertising budgets, etc. – to survive.

    All that to say – I don't think that there is anything particularly special about Starbucks that draws church-folk there, I think that Starbucks fills a niche and that people will go to whatever establishment fills that niche.

    I'm sure church-folk go to a lot more varied coffee shops in locations where choice exist. Here in Tyler, we have a fantastic coffee shop called Caffe Tazza – it blows Starbucks out of the water. A lot of my people go there.

    I think it is all about the availability of choice.

    • @kylelreed

      I like it, good thoughts here.
      You are right about it being everywhere in suburbia.
      Availability and comfort seem to dominate.

    • Jody

      Bible studies, Christian connections etc. take place in Starbucks over a cup of coffee with customers, but I read an article awhile ago that Starbucks corporate folks were actually anti Christian. Does anybody know anything about that?

  • brianbarela

    kyle the 12 starbucks that we have in my small town of chico are all populated by church people.

    i try to go the coffee shops that look completely unappealing but have great coffee and wifi knowing that most church people will stay away.

    it is a great “office,” especially if you work in a church w less than average office facilities, and like to meet people out in public.

    • @kylelreed

      I have always said that if I worked at a church I would take a coffee shop as my office. Don't need an office space.

  • Lex

    Mark nailed it – and then some – but I have to say I was wondering the same thing recently … but about Caribou. I don't really like Caribou, but a friend of mine does so I'm always meeting her there. And there are always Bible studies and Christian conversations going on.

    Maybe it's just Christians and coffee.

    • @kylelreed

      Probably is Christians and Coffee, seeing how it has replaced Mountain Dew as the nectar from the gods.
      What is Caribou?

      • Mark Blake

        Caribou is Starbucks, but from the North-Midwest. More or less.

      • Lex

        Basically what Mark said. Starbucks – here in the Midwest – is where the hip scene-sters go with their Macs (guilty), and Caribou is where the people who think those people are snobby go. :) More or less.

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  • Alicia

    hahah! I meet my church mentor at Starbucks, usually, where we study the Word. Awesome :)