Emily Wax-Thibodeaux reports:
The new supervisor thought his idea was innocent enough. He wanted the baristas to write the names of customers on their cups to speed up lines and ease confusion, just like other Starbucks do around the world.
But these aren’t just any customers. They are regulars at the CIA Starbucks.
“They could use the alias ‘Polly-O string cheese’ for all I care,” said a food services supervisor at the Central Intelligence Agency, asking that his identity remain unpublished for security reasons. “But giving any name at all was making people — you know, the undercover agents — feel very uncomfortable. It just didn’t work for this location.”
This purveyor of skinny lattes and double cappuccinos is deep inside the agency’s forested Langley, Va., compound.
…The baristas go through rigorous interviews and background checks and need to be escorted by agency “minders” to leave their work area. There are no frequent-customer award cards, because officials fear the data stored on the cards could be mined by marketers and fall into the wrong hands, outing secret agents.
The chief of the team that helped find Osama Bin Laden, for instance, recruited a key deputy for the effort at the Starbucks, said another officer who could not be named.
Employees at the branch also are not allowed to bring smart phones inside. The piece is interesting throughout.