An Open Letter to Starbucks About Their Terrible Cafe Chairs

Dear Starbucks:

Once upon a time, you introduced a cafe that had comfy seating, including chairs that had ample cushions. Patrons could sit and relax, or work in a comfortable way. Although your cafe chairs had less cushioning, they were nonetheless chairs that you did not mind to use.

Fast forward to one of your redesigns about five to seven years ago. The popularity that your chain has enjoyed on the East Coast drove you to think that your stores were the equivalent of factory lines. Instead of an inviting place to be, your new selection of furniture screamed of your need to get customers as fast in and out of the store as possible, while making it uncomfortable for them to did want to sit and stay for a while.

You replaced tables with planks of wood against windows and swapped chairs for bar stools without back support. You removed every comfortable chair and replaced them with thinly padded stools. As an independent freelance writer, I find that working outside of my house is a better office than inside. The people working around me keep me focused, and I have ample access to your excellent coffee, lunch, and pastry products. When I am here, I spend at least $10 during my 2-3 hour stay every time.

When I first needed to find a place to work a couple of weeks ago, the only option for me other than the library is your Bellerose, NY location. When I try to sit in your cafe table chairs, the back curves sharply along the sides and leans at the back. The sides of the back stick uncomfortably into my buttocks behind my hips. I am a trim woman, and it is painful even to me.

Because I cannot sit up straight in your chairs and work, I am either forced to sit way back, which causes me to bend my neck painfully forward, or I am forced to lean forward until my back is completely out of the chair. I have fibromyalgia, and it is aggravated when I have to move back and forward a lot, which is what happens if I try to work at your cafe for any period of time. In just three days time, I started to have a knot in two places in my back, which I still have.

After a week away, I am back in the cafe. Here on the East Coast, I am in the middle of 3 snowstorms in one week. Not getting out of the house is a work as well as mental health issue for me. Your store is more than a retail location, it is also a lifesaver for students and freelance workers.

While I do not begrudge you your success and your need to accommodate more customers, I wanted to let you know one thing: Coming to Starbucks used to do more than just give me great coffee, I felt like I was entering an inviting urban oasis. The decor was not painful to use. Starbucks used to be my favorite cafe. However, that feeling has since been long gone.

If I had a request that you would consider filling, I would ask you to add at least one or two comfy chairs back in your larger locations, such as the Bellerose, NY store, to let customers test-sit your chairs, and to replace some or all of these terribly uncomfortable cafe chairs.





  1. Definitely they took out the comfort when they replaced leather seats with hard wood chairs. You mentioned that you spent $10 for 2-3 hours. My guess is they dont want people hanging out to make it their second office, and probably need to make $10 per person for an hour max time spent. I spent about the same money and time, but now go to other places, like coffee bean which do have those comfortable seats. I’d bet if enough people said they were switching loyalty to other offee houses, then SB would reconsider their remodeling changes. For me bottom line is their coffee just is NOT that good and I went for relaxation..I go alot less now.

  2. They did not just replace the chairs, but removed a lot of tables as well. Whenever we are in NY we use(d) to spend a lot of bucks at Starbucks, but it seems if you want to sit in a comfortable chair you have to go to McDonalds nowadays. How silly is that? Take a few Starbucks restaurants in Midtown Manhattan, for example. Chairs have been replaced by wooden chairs, tables have been removed and even though there is enough space for additional tables there is only empty space now. The few tables here and there are always taken and you can never, never get a seat. Sipping my coffee and eating my cake while standing is not an option for me, so we usually leave for a better spot. Is this the way starbucks treats their customers nowadays? Take their money and hope they get lost? I used to be a fan, but not anymore. Whoever came up with the idea to remodell these restaurants should be fired on the spot. Lets face it: Starbucks has dropped the ball and it is no wonder that many franchises who are true to what Starbucks embodied many years ago are now doing taking over.

  3. Josef: Yeah, Starbucks realized that the higher the volume that they get, the better their profits are. Instead of making it a place to enjoy your coffee, it’s just a take out place. I am working in one now, but it’s the only one close to me. I live in a coffee shop wasteland. McDonald’s has better seating? That is terrible. I would go somewhere else if I could walk there. With the warmer weather, I have options I can bike to. When I lived in Cambridge, MA, there was a Starbucks that still kept to the old style – comfy chairs, a fireplace (!), and lots and lots of seating. But it’s a bit hard to commute there from where I am on Long Island. 😀

  4. It is all about greed. Do you know how much money Stabucks store can make daily? But they need more. And more…. they can limit access to internet. As they did long time ago. One hour max per day. People can seat in their store even without buying coffee. For hours. The best for Sturbucks is to just sell coffee to go. No chais no tables and far less expensive store space. Im moving to Blenz coffee or to Waves. And many small coffee stores are having WiFi and confy sifa seats. Lets support our neibourgh small business. Good bue Starbucks.

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