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Why Are There So Many Starbucks in Capitola and Soquel?

We may love our locally roasted coffee, but Starbucks still has a presence in town.

Why Are There So Many Starbucks in Capitola and Soquel?

By Dante Chinni

It turns out that Double Mocha Macchiato in your hand not only says something about you – it also says something about where you live. If you are carrying a mermaid-emblazoned cup, you are more likely to be walking the shadows of a skyscraper or looking for a place to set down your shopping bags, or perhaps past students throwing a Frisbee on the quad.

And, more likely than not, your county voted for Obama last year.

Cities, big suburban centers and college campuses are the among the nation’s biggest Starbucks magnets. Those don't really describe Soquel and Capitola, “two-pump” and “no-whip” are still common adjectives in Mid-County.

In an effort gauge the power and reach of Starbucks nation, Patch mapped the country’s 10,000-plus outlets – stand alone stores and Starbucks cafes within other stores, with locations from the firm  AggData. One of the biggest surprises is that while Starbucks can seem ubiquitous, fewer than one-third of all U.S. counties have a local Starbucks.

There are a few clear trends in the national figures. The land of “tall” coffee cups is based most heavily around tall buildings. Nearly 30 percent of all U.S. Starbucks, some 2,915, are based in counties holding the nation’s biggest cities – from New York to Los Angeles to Jackson, Florida. And if you are looking for sheer Starbucks density you’d be hard-pressed to beat Manhattan’s 10017 zip code, which features an astounding 20 Starbucks in just .3 square miles.

If you are looking to get away from it all – or at least from the craziness of big city living – and still need a regular visit with a green-aproned barista, the map of Starbucks suggests a few strategies.

  • Go back to college, or move near a major campus. The counties holding the countries biggest universities are very likely to have Starbucks purveyor nearby. Down in Texas, Travis County, home of Austin and UT has 54 locations. Boulder in Colorado, the home of UC has 31. And Dane in Wisconsin, home of UW and Bucky Badger, has 14. But beyond big state universities, Starbucks has you covered if you are small liberal arts school kind of person: quaint Keene, NH, home of Antioch University and Keene State College, offers two Starbucks.
  • Go to the water, or a resort community. If you don’t want to live in a big city, go to the places where the people from the big cities vacation. If you built a hotel, mochas will come. Cape Cod has seven Starbucks. Vail has two Starbucks. The Outer Banks in North Carolina has one. Mackinac Island Michigan, in Lake Huron, has no cars, but one Starbucks to visit. And, yes, in the Holy Hills of the Ozarks, Branson, Missouri has two Starbucks.

And then, of course, there’s politics: Click the button on the “Elections” bottom of the map and the political disposition of Starbucks consumers becomes clear – the stores are based heavily in counties that voted for President Barack Obama in 2012. The visual interpretations are backed up by the numbers: Obama won “Starbucks counties” over Mitt Romney 52% to 46%. That margin is two percentage points better than Obama did overall – where he beat Romney by 4%.

Of course, that has less to do with coffee politics than Starbucks clusters around more densely populated places, which tend to vote Democratic.

Red Staters looking for a little Starbucks solace might want to try Maricopa County. Romney carried the home of Phoenix by about 10 percentage points and the county holds some 262 Starbucks where you can drown your election sorrows, and caffeinate up for the midterms.

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