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Coffee at Carbucks

   The other day a new Carbucks opened about a mile from my house, in a vacant parking lot overlooking the Potomac. I can't reveal the exact location, other than to say it's one of my favorite Carbucks, with views of the river bluffs in full autumnal splendor. I've also been going recently to a Carbucks just a few blocks away, on a back street with a nice view of the river gorge.

    I go to fixed-location coffee houses a fair bit, as readers of this blog may have inferred. I'm writing this now at the fabled Java House, a fixed-location cafe on Q Street. But as much as I like this joint, I prefer the mobility of Carbucks, the fact that almost any place can be a Carbucks. You just make yourself a strong cuppa joe, head to the car, start driving, keep your eyes open, find a good location to drink coffee, park, and there you have it: Carbucks!!!!

    Carbucks is superior to an inert cafe in countless ways. Foremost is the fact that you have the place to yourself. This is a crucial feature for those of us who abjure any form of unnecessary human interaction. Turn off your cellphone (and your Blackberry, etc.) and no one can contact you. Face it, it has been years since anyone contacted you for the purpose of making your life better; everyone just wants something out of you. Carbucks allows you to operate like a fugitive while still having the comforts of cup-holders and a bucket seat.

    Carbucks is a great place for that exotic activity known as reading. Also, the sound system is  totally under your control. Power in our society is defined not by money or influence, but by the degree to which a person is in control of various switches, dials, clickers and knobs. At Carbucks you can listen to news, music, check on the traffic and weather reports, blast Zeppelin at earbleed volume -- whatever you want. You know the motto: "At Carbucks You're In the Driver's Seat." I also appreciate the fact that, if I drink too much coffee and get too squirmy and jumpy, I can buckle up.

    My big fear is that some coffee chain -- you know which one -- will steal the idea. Starbucks has already tried to take over every streetcorner in every city in the world, and it's only a matter of time before it attempts to open up a coffee shop in our personal vehicles. I've heard this has happened already in certain stretch limos in New York.

    I'm sorry, but Carbucks just won't be the same if there's a "barista" barking at me from the back seat.

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 16, 2005; 9:37 AM ET
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