There is a Starbucks inside the CIA
September 28, 2014 5:50 AM   Subscribe

Welcome to the “Stealthy Starbucks,” as a few officers affectionately call it. Or "Store Number 1," as the receipts cryptically say.
posted by gauche (73 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Could they not give fake names to the barista, like spies do?
posted by arcticseal at 6:00 AM on September 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is just what the CIA wants you to think. The reality is that there is a CIA surrounding a Starbucks.
posted by srboisvert at 6:21 AM on September 28, 2014 [21 favorites]


No, srboisvert, the reality is that every Starbucks is inside the CIA, for some definition of "inside."
posted by graymouser at 6:26 AM on September 28, 2014 [15 favorites]


I am a little disappointed in their orders. Mocha latte? I just assumed it was either black coffee or iced black coffee. Just as a good spy always has their back to the wall, they drink their coffee without frills.
posted by 724A at 6:29 AM on September 28, 2014 [9 favorites]


I smell SITCOOOMMMMMM
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:33 AM on September 28, 2014 [58 favorites]


One would have thought an international spy agency could locate better coffee.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:48 AM on September 28, 2014 [30 favorites]


I would go back to working for Starbucks if it were at "Store Number 1".
posted by zorrine at 6:49 AM on September 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


There used to be a Nathan's hot dog stand inside the Pentagon courtyard. I think it's something else now.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:53 AM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I guess this Starbucks doesn't have free wifi (which is what I use our building's Starbucks for nearly every day at lunch.)
posted by vespabelle at 6:56 AM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


A buddy of mine works in one of these top secret places (or so he tells me). Apparently nobody's allowed on site without clearance, and that includes ambulances and fire engines. So they have their own on site ambulances and fire engines. I know this because I quizzed him about all the spy movie plots I could think of.

They also have an on site costa coffee and a subway, where the workers all have security clearances.

The bicycle racks are also inside the secured area. He tells me he doesn't bother with a bicycle lock as the armed guards know whose bike is whose.
posted by Mike1024 at 7:05 AM on September 28, 2014 [9 favorites]


Could they not give fake names to the barista, like spies do?

No matter what fake name they give the barista, they might accidentally put the right name on the cup.

"Um, I'm... Linda Smith."
"Latte for Natasha Romanoff!"
"Dammit."
posted by Etrigan at 7:08 AM on September 28, 2014 [23 favorites]


This is great.
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:14 AM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I smell SITCOOOMMMMMM

I believe this is the plot to USA's Covert Affairs.

The account of the length of the line made me think they might need another coffee shop.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:15 AM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Folks of a certain mindset might hope that the reference on the receipts is only listing the main adulterating agent added to the coffee by employees.

Critical thinkers would then wonder how anyone could possibly know the difference?
posted by LionIndex at 7:25 AM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's a Starbucks on the USS Theodore Roosevelt
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:41 AM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would go back to working for Starbucks if it were at "Store Number 1".

Of course, if you told anyone which store you worked at, you would be killed by a shadowy figure. Probably with something called a "Caramel Mocha Explosion" or a "Pumpkin Spice Latte," wher ethe spice was actually strontium.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:42 AM on September 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


what's interesting to me is that apparently there are disproportionate number of mormons in the cia. i wonder what they order...
posted by nadawi at 7:47 AM on September 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


One would have thought an international spy agency could locate better coffee.

Being overly fussy about one's coffee may well result in failing one's psychometric tests, and/or be seen as a suspicious decadent/cosmopolitan tendency potentially incompatible with the level of loyalty required to be a spook.
posted by acb at 7:48 AM on September 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


That was the best McSweeney's article I ever read.
posted by etc. at 7:48 AM on September 28, 2014 [18 favorites]


Wow. They already have a better dental plan than the FBI's, and they get a Starbucks? Unreal.
posted by droplet at 7:54 AM on September 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine really wanted a job at a specific large corporation, so she got a job at a Starbucks on the first floor of their massive corporate skyscraper. After only about six months she was able to work her contracts and get a full time job in sales with the same company. It turns out people are predisposed to like you if you serve them caffeine every morning. I wonder if that's ever happened at the CIA.
posted by miyabo at 8:02 AM on September 28, 2014 [26 favorites]


Today we think of Store Number 1 as a semi-industrialized cafe-state, its economy dependent on its vast reserves of Pike Place to sustain its workers, most of whom still live on under $10/hour. But the history of this particular Starbucks franchise is much more complex than this simplistic picture would lead you to believe.

In 1958, the baristas there began talking of converting the store to a worker's cooperative, where profits would be shared equally and working conditions would be determined by negotiated consensus. Shortly afterwards, new baristas (with Midwest accents and next to no ability to make coffee) arrived; there is no evidence that they had anything to do with bankrolling or directing the rightwing militias that sprang up at the same time. Intimidated and confused the the constant propaganda pumped out by the in-store sound system, the native baristas elected Tina, a hardline rightwing store manager who clung to power for the next 43 years. During her time in power, scaldings by hot steam, abuse by customers, and infant mortality increased by over 100% and today little remains of Store Number 1's rich cultural heritage.

But today there are signs of hope. Reformist assistant managers and rising use of cell phones for communication by baristas suggest that if the landlocked Starbucks franchise can diversify its economy to protein platters and sandwiches, it can have a bright future in the 21st century.
posted by officer_fred at 8:05 AM on September 28, 2014 [26 favorites]


Who is Store Number 1?


You... are Store Number 6.


(scene)
posted by wittgenstein at 8:11 AM on September 28, 2014 [48 favorites]


It turns out people are predisposed to like you if you serve them caffeine every morning. I wonder if that's ever happened at the CIA.

The next Guy Burgess will come from behind the espresso machine rather than from Cambridge....
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:20 AM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Post Snowden, I wonder how long this lasts. There are many in the intelligence community on the warpath against the "contract out if at all possible" culture which has prevailed of late. Putting full-time GS-4s in barista smocks will add to the cost of a latte but that may be coming.
posted by MattD at 9:03 AM on September 28, 2014


I smell a new Laundry novel. A thing infects Store Number 1 and subtly influences the customers via adjusting the ratio of pumpkin spice flavors in their lattes, brainwashing their drinkers.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:16 AM on September 28, 2014 [9 favorites]



Post Snowden, I wonder how long this lasts. There are many in the intelligence community on the warpath against the "contract out if at all possible" culture which has prevailed of late. Putting full-time GS-4s in barista smocks will add to the cost of a latte but that may be coming.


There's not need for that; they just invented a giant robot barista.
posted by Diablevert at 9:33 AM on September 28, 2014


"Tall?"
"Yes."
"Non-fat?"
"Yes. I've been working out."
"Are you or have you ever been a member of the communist party?"
posted by anothermug at 9:51 AM on September 28, 2014 [17 favorites]


So, basically, bad people drink Starbucks...
posted by ennui.bz at 9:53 AM on September 28, 2014


nadawi, I thought it was the Secret Service that was Mormon-heavy. Could be both, I guess?
posted by benito.strauss at 9:53 AM on September 28, 2014


The real secret is that there is a Starbucks inside the Starbucks, called Store Number 0.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:53 AM on September 28, 2014 [17 favorites]


You just know there's some Ivy League grad turned mid-level office schmuck that thinks he's the greatest fucking comedian in the world when he says shit like "Gentlemen, Operation MOCHA is now in effect."

Shut the fuck up, Brett.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:56 AM on September 28, 2014 [16 favorites]


The real secret is that there is a Starbucks inside the Starbucks, called Store Number 0

It's just a cover for the lead-lined Peet's Coffee under the floor.
posted by The Whelk at 10:05 AM on September 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


The CIA tends to use cryptonyms of the form (two letter prefix) + word, so I think it would be irresistible not to design a menu around that.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:06 AM on September 28, 2014


A female barista who commutes from the District before sunrise said she initially applied to work for a catering company that services federal buildings in the region, not knowing where she might be assigned. She said she underwent extensive vetting “that was more than just a credit check.”

This isn't really a Starbucks. It's a food service company with a specialty in working in high-security government offices. They bought a "branded solution" from Starbucks. They (I don't know this specific "they" but am passingly familiar with the industry) do this at intelligence and defense locations all over the world. I know that on the ground level there's not a big difference, but it's not like Starbucks has begun teaching spycraft in conjunction with espresso machine operation. Also, loyalty cards don't work there because it's not a "real" Starbucks. The point of sales setup is for whatever company is actually running the place. That this keeps anyone from tracking an agent based on a Starbucks card is a happy accident.

Post Snowden, I wonder how long this lasts. There are many in the intelligence community on the warpath against the "contract out if at all possible" culture which has prevailed of late. Putting full-time GS-4s in barista smocks will add to the cost of a latte but that may be coming.

I can't imagine an in-sourcing wave, even for the kind of work Snowden was doing, ever taking hold. It would be especially unlikely for it to reach down to the food service level. I work in gov't acquisitions and even since Snowden, the demand for contractors with top-secret clearance has only continued to grow compared to what you can find on USAJobs.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:09 AM on September 28, 2014 [15 favorites]


I'm really curious what a subway or starbucks employee with clearance makes. Or is the clearance they get really just an extra-heavy background check, not the kind of clearance (secret, top secret, etc.) that makes you a hot commodity on USAJOBS?
posted by skewed at 10:14 AM on September 28, 2014


Excellent points, the christopher hundreds. I believe there are similar arrangements at international airports as well. I seem to recally friend working for a company at SLC International and he was able to work at a Burger King, a Sartbucks, and a Maui Jim's all in the same day if needed.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:22 AM on September 28, 2014


The bicycle racks are also inside the secured area. He tells me he doesn't bother with a bicycle lock as the armed guards know whose bike is whose.

We didn't bother locking them up when I was at AECL. There was a 7 km security permiter, and everyone inside was either management or a member of one of the two largest unions in Canada, and thus making very good money.
posted by Canageek at 10:32 AM on September 28, 2014


So...why don't they just have an espresso machine in the office? Making your own has to be more convenient than waiting in line.

If I had an office, I'd never buy coffee. I only buy it to rent a space in a shop or because I'm on the go to and from places where I can't make my own.

But then again, I work in a coffee shop. I am fully capable of making my own coffee, and it's usually better.
posted by jb at 10:38 AM on September 28, 2014


I would rename the entire drink menu to correspond to spy movie code phrases.

"The black crow flies at midnight."

"The cobbler's children have no shoes?"

"No, beware the dwarf. Thanks."
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:44 AM on September 28, 2014 [10 favorites]


I am fully capable of making my own coffee, and it's usually better.

And that's why they're reading your email right now.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:45 AM on September 28, 2014


One would have thought an international spy agency could locate better coffee.

Wait, Starbucks sells coffee? I usually just go for their delicious sugarmilk.
posted by A dead Quaker at 10:53 AM on September 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


"Go grab a latte, Pam. You look tired."
posted by officer_fred at 11:09 AM on September 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Starbucks is only a sometimes thing and a meeting place. The reality is far more sinister: it's Keurigs. Lots and lots of Keurigs. And Steve, fucking Steve, he mooches off everyone else's Keurig pods and never buys his own.
posted by naju at 11:28 AM on September 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've been to a Starbucks on an aircraft carrier at sea. Really, it's just the normal ship's service folks in uniform manning a coffee stand that happens to be outfitted with Starbucks equipment and supplied with starbucks product. Nice heavy coating of Starbucks branding on everything. But there are no starbucks corp employees, it's a franchise deal.

On the other hand, in the controlled area of the shipyard here, we have a couple of coffee shops manned by outside (non-shipyard) businesses.

You have to remember, a security investigation establishes the highest classification you can theoretically be involved with. But my "active" clearance is not as high as my allowed one. And even then, the need to know principle applies. I wouldn't see a baristas badge and say hey, you have a secret clearance, tell me what you think of this plan. And can you hold these documents for me?

Mostly the "clearance" for those kind of people is training what to do if they accidentally find something they shouldn't.
posted by ctmf at 11:40 AM on September 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I feel bad reading these puff pieces. Journalists, please investigate the CIA, don't write about their kooky office complex. Please.
posted by anthill at 11:41 AM on September 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


It's a lot harder to think of the CIA as a nefarious organization when you picture them with lattes.
posted by the jam at 11:47 AM on September 28, 2014


Wouldn't work to have a secret menu a la in-n-out. They'd be too security conscious for anyone to know about it, so nobody could order from it.

And if someone did, they'd be outing themself with unauthorized information and end up on their face in zip-ties.
posted by ctmf at 11:48 AM on September 28, 2014


there are disproportionate number of mormons in the cia.

I smell more sitcom!!
posted by sneebler at 11:50 AM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


There used to be a Nathan's hot dog stand inside the Pentagon courtyard. I think it's something else now.

Kinda hoping that the CIA Starbucks is actually some sort of wonderfully meta Nathan Fielder prank.
posted by Nevin at 11:55 AM on September 28, 2014


It's a lot harder to think of the CIA as a nefarious organization when you picture them with lattes.

CIA JOE: It's September. You know what that means
CIA MATT: Pumpkin ... spice ... lattes
CIA JOE: Hell yeah!!! Oh also those 10, 20 militants in Yemen may not have been militants, Steve's gonna need a thing
CIA MATT: Dammit. Thanks for the heads-up at least. See you round
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:10 PM on September 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


Los Alamos National Laboratory has "Technical Area 31" AKA the Baskin Robbins.
posted by yeolcoatl at 12:13 PM on September 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's a lot harder to think of the CIA as a nefarious organization when you picture them with lattes.
It's just more evidence that evil is banal.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 12:18 PM on September 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's a lot harder to think of the CIA as a nefarious organization when you picture them with lattes.


Not really.
posted by signal at 12:22 PM on September 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


All Hannah Arendt wanted was a half-caf mochaccino with extra foam.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:23 PM on September 28, 2014


So what was the solution to the name problem? Did I miss it?
posted by Omnomnom at 12:24 PM on September 28, 2014


Tinker, Tailor, Barista, Spy?
posted by Renoroc at 12:29 PM on September 28, 2014 [9 favorites]


one of the very first things I did upon going online with my own PC (1998 sometime, I'm pretty sure) was check out the CIA's website. It has of course changed over the years, because back then, on the "Work For The CIA" page, they actually bragged about their on site cafe. I can't recall if it was a Starbucks.

Anyway, the whole site was weirdly fun in a banal sort of way ... and now a quick check confirms that it still is.

LINK IS TO THE KIDZONE ...

Seriously, Just Say ‘No’
As part of the hiring process, all future employees must successfully complete medical and polygraph examinations, as well as a thorough background investigation. These tests are necessary because, at the CIA, we set very high standards. Once hired, all of our intelligence officers – no matter which office they work in – must continue to live up to those standards. The CIA is a drug-free workplace and is proud to be an important part of the government’s war on drugs.

posted by philip-random at 12:38 PM on September 28, 2014


I can't really be happy about this unless there is a CIA field office inside the Starbucks restroom, with a miniature Starbucks inside that office.
posted by crapmatic at 1:06 PM on September 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm somewhere between concerned and intrigued by the fact that our nation's top intelligence officials are listening to "progressive folk music".
posted by Wolfdog at 1:46 PM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't help but think of the last scene in Brazil. After torturing Sam into insanity, Jack and Mr. Helpmann exit the chamber on their way to order a Skinny Latte (Jack) and Cappuccino (Helpmann) before doing paperwork for the rest of the afternoon.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 2:05 PM on September 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Starbucks inside CIA HQ

Those poor bastards. Legacy of ashes indeed (because Starbucks tastes like ash).
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:18 PM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


So...why don't they just have an espresso machine in the office? [...] If I had an office, I'd never buy coffee.
Once you've carried a full drip tray from the office espresso machine to the kitchen to empty, then made another trip to fill up the water container, you learn consumer espresso machines are really designed to be used within a few yards of a sink.

When you move it to the kitchen and invite everyone to use it, you discover it's not really designed to be used as much as it's being used, and it packs up after a few months. People are tired of cleaning up other people's coffee grounds all over the counters, a bean-to-cup or pod based machine suddenly seems really appealing...
posted by Mike1024 at 3:31 PM on September 28, 2014


...and highly trained operatives in key roles are The. Fucking. Worst when it comes to the tragedy of the common area. I have extensive experience in this across a wide range of operatives and roles. I've been in places where I'd've paid the franchise fee myself to get a Starbucks and the employees to take care of it, and I don't even drink coffee.
posted by Etrigan at 5:09 PM on September 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Must
Not
Write
Archer
Scene
About
A messy
Coffee prep area
posted by The Whelk at 5:11 PM on September 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


So...why don't they just have an espresso machine in the office? Making your own has to be more convenient than waiting in line.

They have automated espresso machines on the floors where I work. They do a good job of making freshly ground beans take like vacuum cleaner dust.
posted by acb at 2:41 AM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


They have to leave their cell phones in their cars. Could you imagine? All those uncomfortable stares in elevators. Awkward small-talk before meetings start. The cell phone is my crutch. I suck at innocent humor. I anti-excel in the making people who don't know me like me department. Every moment of silence is uncomfortable silence to me and the cell phone provides the excuse I need to not make a total fool of myself.
posted by krautland at 3:26 AM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


They have to leave their cell phones in their cars.

I'm guessing that cycling to work would be another thing that'd raise suspicions of un-American sympathies.
posted by acb at 6:54 AM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


They have to leave their cell phones in their cars. Could you imagine?

Sounds like an ideal application for the NoPhone.
posted by miyabo at 10:55 AM on September 29, 2014


Nadawi, they get hot chocolate.
posted by ericales at 9:46 PM on September 29, 2014


On the Mormon thing: I heard recently that it wasn't caffeine that was forbidden, but hot drinks (as well as alcohol) - which would include hot chocolate. Is this true? (I heard it from a radio program that is normally quite accurate on these things, but it was in passing and I may have misunderstood).
posted by jb at 5:22 AM on September 30, 2014


I dated a Mormon girl once, her family was OK with hot drinks. It was the caffeine they didn't take.
posted by arcticseal at 5:31 AM on September 30, 2014


i was raised mormon. the caffeine/hot drink question is something that is mostly left to each individual's discretion. in my family it was absolutely no caffeine. for others they just don't do coffee. i've never personally known anyone who eschews hot drinks, but that is technically what the word of wisdom says.
posted by nadawi at 5:37 AM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


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