Imagine sitting down in a cafe with a mate, and not ordering anything because you were waiting for another friend, only to have police storm the place and arrest you.

Sounds ridiculous, right?

For two men sitting in a Philadelphia Starbucks this situation unfortunately became their reality. Footage filmed by a witness in the shop shows how the shocking incident played out, reports News.com.au.

"The police were called because these men hadn't ordered anything," wrote Melissa DePino, who posted the video on Twitter.

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"They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white people are wondering why it's never happened to us when we do the same thing."

The video shows two African-American men being handcuffed in the coffee shop. They are surrounded by at least five police officers. Witnesses in the cafe are stunned by the arrest.

"This is ridiculous," says a customer. "What did [the police] get called for, because there are two black guys sitting here eating? What did they do? Tell me, what did they do? Someone tell me what they did?"

Other customers can also be heard defending the men. "They didn't do anything," one says. "I saw the entire thing."

The two men, who remain calm during the arrest, are then led out of the restaurant in handcuffs. Ms DePino said in a later post that the two men were released in the early hours of the morning.

"They are real estate brokers and were at Starbucks to meet their family friend. That's all I have for now," she wrote. The video has been shared more than 17,000 times and attracted nearly 1000 comments.

"Ever since I posted this, I've had white strangers AND friends say 'there must be something more to this story'. That assumption is a big part of the problem. It does happen. All the time. Just not to you and me. Believe it and speak up."

The response to the video has been strong, with many quick to condemn the arrest.

"White people's incredulity at the reality of racism that POC [people of colour] face on a daily basis underscores just how pernicious racism is," wrote one Twitter user.

"I'm white and it bothers me that other white people are blindly giving the cops the benefit of the doubt and not to the very calm guys minding their own business in a public place (who happen to be black)," another said. "Their blatant racism towards those men is disgusting."

Starbucks has been contacted for comment.