Jina Moore of the Chrisitan Science Monitor has written an interesting article about conversations, many of a personal nature, which people feel they can conduct in Starbucks coffee houses without care that they will be overheard by others. These are some of the observations made by Temple University's Professor Bryant Simons who is researching and writing a book about Starbucks.
There's also some interesting sociological insights in this New Yorker snippet about Prof. Simon's research for the book.
Here's a YouTube clip of Prof. Simon lecturing about his Starbucks stuff, especially the brand and how people consume there. It's a form of self-gifting. It's a desire for belonging. "Starbucks is a multi-media corporation which stages performances, and puts the consumer at the center of those performances."