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Hassle-free Starbucks, 120 South Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA

Quick Summary: 4/5 Stars

*Right off the 101 *Public Transportation, YES *Feel Welcome to Stay, YES *Friendly Service, YES *Outlets, YES *Seating, YES *Open 4:30am-9pm M-F, 6am-6:30pm Sat./Sun.

*See: http://www.starbucks.com/store-locator?location=Los+Angeles,+CA&limit=10&features= 

Location: Easy Drive

If you live near downtown it’s a low hassle drive.  From Echo Park it literally takes me five minutes to get here at anytime of day.  I think the traffic is a breeze because if you live north of downtown, you’re on the 101S for a couple of minutes and in no time at all you’re taking exit 2B for Los Angeles Street.  Drive south then take the third left onto East 1st Street and the shop is on the right.  The parking is metered but if you’re lucky enough to get someone to drop you off, the curbside drive-up is easy.  This makes pick-ups stress free too.  Your ride will feel comfortable waiting for you near the curb until you’ve wrapped-up your last train of thought.  If you can take the train or bus, Union Station is only a 10-15 minute walk from this Starbucks location.

Traffic Flow: Steady

The stream of people going in and out during the work-week is consistent, but most people walk-in grab their coffee and go.  There are two entrances, one on either side of the coffee bar so even though the space is small and caboose-like even at its most crowded the shop doesn’t feel congested.

Seating: Easy 

So if you want to stick around to work or take a load off your feet, you should have no trouble finding a place to sit at one of their multiple two-seater tables.  All of their tables are against the wall so the continual stream of people walking in and out shouldn’t interfere with your concentration or your conversation.  The outlets are conveniently located to make reaching them from any table easy.  There are only two “comfy” chairs with a little table between but they’ve been free for the most part (maybe because the seats go back a bit- great for reading or working from a relaxed position from a laptop or tablet but not for hunching over your work).

Busiest Time of Day: Late Afternoon

It seems that around 3:30pm it gets really busy.  If you arrive around 3:30 or 4pm you might have trouble finding a seat immediately.

The Crowd: Mixed

You’ll see everyone come through this Starbucks.  Suits, college students day and night, high school kids after class, and people who need a home office away from home.  The seating is all in close proximity but you’ll never have to worry about sharing your table with a perfect stranger because all of the tables (with the exception of the handicap access table) is bistro size.

Favorite Spot:  Near the Window        

My favorite spot to work is from the comfy chair near the window or  the corner table right behind it.  I’m far enough away from the coffee bar to avoid hearing other people’s’ conversations while they make it through the line and the music speaker right above my head blocks out any offending conversationalist sitting nearby who is looking for an audience.

Downside: No Bathroom

No bathroom in this Starbucks.  The hotel next door has one but it’s locked and can either be accessed by a  host nice enough to let you in or an obliging guest with a room key.  So if you don’t want to poach for a bathroom key you’ll want to keep this in mind before consuming your whole cup of venti-scrumptiousness in the first 30 minutes of your stay.

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About “Choice Spots”

I love the luxury of rolling to my desk and completing my first assignment before officially getting ready for the day. By the time I put on my makeup and exchange my comfy baggies for real clothes I already feel as if I have a head start on everyone else. The trouble is that working from home is a little too comfortable sometimes and I need a change of scene to get my creative juices flowing.

But since moving from Music City to the Golden State I no longer have the luxury of just hopping in my car and going to any of the roomy coffee houses in town. First of all, I’m still mastering the art of parallel parking, secondly, not all coffee houses want patrons to patronize their place all day, and last but not least, going anywhere in LA includes more than the cost of coffee.

From the comfort of my own home I know that I can always warm-up my cup of hot tea or french roast, never worry about getting a good seat or getting kicked-out of my seat, and can rely on multiple, available plugins for my ancient cord dependent laptop.

When I go out in LA, I have no idea if I’ll find free parking, find a good seat or locate an outlet that hasn’t already been stripped by thousands of other users. I’ve recently had to tape my cord to such an outlet…it’s a  little funny, but mostly frustrating.

If you live here, you know that simply going across town can be a major time commitment. Trying that new coffee place your friend told you about (a theoretical ten minute drive on Google Maps), is really more like 30 minutes with LA traffic so going anywhere is a bit more of an investment than $4.35 for a caffeine treat. With the nation’s highest gas prices burning through your fuel tank and notoriously congested traffic, it pays to do a little reconnaissance before venturing out. Before I go to any new coffee shop, I call ahead and make sure they have: Wi-Fi, outlets, and free parking!

I’m trying to be smarter about the way I spend my money in every way these days and that includes mapping out my routes to save money on gas, appeasing my taste buds without spending more than I can afford, cooking more at home, and casting my net further when I’m shopping for goods and services.

The trouble is, researching and planning to save money takes time. My “research” typically entails, “Googling it” as I’m rushing out the door. Sometimes the reviews I read seem consistent and fair but when results are skewed because of unfair griping or seemingly “placed” reviews, I find myself hesitating before making the commitment to check it out. I’m already concerned about not “wasting” my money so it kills me when a review I see doesn’t give me the kind of information I need to make a confident decision about whether or not to spend.

My goal on “Choice Spots” is to build a thoughtful resource that includes spots mostly in and around LA where you can frugally spend your hard-earned money and confidently spend your valuable time. I’d like to write about everything from, “choice coffee spots within walking distance of a train” to “choice online retailers”.

I travel a bit throughout the year too, so don’t be surprised if you see reviews of establishments in New York or Miami pop-up once in a while. And if you have a place you’ve always wanted to check-out in and around the LA area, leave me a comment and I’ll see if I can get out there to do a little reconnaissance for you.