Movies and television programs often depict CIA agents as having almost superhuman qualities. They are portrayed as being part of a very covert and secretive organization that employs only the best and brightest minds for handling sensitive intelligence operations. While the latter may actually be true when it comes to operatives working within the Central Intelligence Agency, they are not quite superhuman as evidenced by the fact that many of them, like many of those in the private sector, have trouble starting their workday without a nice hot cup of Joe.
That’s why the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia is outfitted with what those on the inside call “Store Number One” – a Starbucks coffee shop that is different from other stores in the popular chain because of its clientele. Store Number One – also occasionally referred to as “Stealthy Starbucks” is nestled deep within the confines of the world’s most secretive location. Starbucks at the CIA is open 24 hours a day and is responsible for fueling thousands of the agency’s employees and keeping them alert and on their toes.
Vince Houghton, who is an intelligence expert as well as the Curator of the International Spy Museum, stated recently that workers within the CIA are constantly going through “high level, top secret, classified intelligence, [and as such they] need to make sure they are completely alert. If they miss something, the national security of the United States suffers.”
Employees of the Starbucks at the CIA headquarters have been approached in the past for interviews but to date, none has been willing to grant one. According to Houghton, the CIA maintains a high level of control over everything that goes into and comes out of the CIA facility, including the baristas at Starbucks.
Even though they are only serving coffee, they go through intensive background checks before and after they are hired and are not allowed to reveal where they work to anyone.