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I have to give it to Starbucks, they really know how to do business. Comfortable sofas, good coffee, relaxed atmosphere, all very good. But it doesn't stop there.

I recently discovered a Starbucks card in my car, a corporate gift or some such. This is the deal - you get a magnetic-strip card precharged with $5 that works just like cash. You order your drink, hand over the card, it gets swiped and returned - no signature, no change. What's special about that? Well, it's convenient, but the real magic is the automatic recharge - when your balanced drops below a threshold and it can automatically be topped up from a credit card, again, no signature, no hassle. I'm hooked; I've always had a Starbucks problem, but they've really got me this time, it's just too damn convenient.

The original logo is still there at the first location by Pike Place Market, which incidentally is one of the eight outlets in a three block radius from here.