Ok, another big difference from Portland. The coffee shops in Madison are few and far between, and there aren’t many Starbucks around, and if there are, they are drive thru, or at Target. And the east side of Madison is really low on coffee shops..
I have been to a couple of shops on the east side:
Cool Beans – This is located within the East Towne mall area roads. It is a bigger place, as big as a normal Starbucks. It has a fireplace which is cool, and it seems normal enough. My EVDO card worked so I didn’t try the Wifi, but the downside to Cool Beans is that there is like 1 (maybe 2) outlets available, and there are a lot of just “cushy” seats, like not useful for using a laptop. Coffee shops should have outlets at every table! The good thing is that it is pretty closet to my apt, but I think Beans ‘n Cream’s east Madison location is actually closer.
Beans ‘n Cream – I have been the the Sun Prairie location. It was nice, a little far to drive from my apt every day. It was hot with a fire going. The kicker though, my Verizon EVDO card got a weak or no signal, and it was on National Access (read: slow) so it was worthless. I tried out their wifi, but it isn’t open. You have to go to the counter to get a 60 minute pass, they print you off a user/password. Kind of odd, I didn’t like it. I will try the east Madison location, hopefully my EVDO card will pick up Broadband Access (read: fast) – I walked by the east Madison location, and there seemed to be less seating. One thing is that there were some outlets (always a good thing) at both..
Starbucks – ? Non-existent in Madison. There are a few, but the parking sucks, or they are drive-thru. They are mostly on the west side, and I am not driving 30-45 minutes to go there. The closest one to me is at the East Towne Target, and there are NO outlets – WTF? I mean I would go to Target and just try it and see how it went, but no outlets? It is hard enough to find one at a regular shop that isn’t being used. I guess they don’t want people with laptops to show up and stay for a while (I actually think the Starbucks at Target is ran as a different type of franchise than a regular Starbucks).
Overall? Well, I don’t even drink coffee (I do but not often) – so it really isn’t about the coffee, it is about the atmosphere for me, and the standardization (outlets, fireplace, places to sit, etc) – usually I am just getting hot chocolate… I do miss the bagels at Wired on Burnside though, and the coffee :)