This kind of coffee hate may have been an oddity restricted to central Texas like this, or this, or this. But I think not. I think if we’re honest and can remember that far back…before the lower to middle 90s, when Seattle introduced the rest of us to a few treasures like this and this and this…coffee was strictly what old people drank when they were playing bridge or knitting doilies or something.
That said, it was always a pretty big deal in our house. The coffeepot was the first thing awake every morning, and it just kept going all day long. It was like air conditioning, only more important. We didn’t have any real inside pets, so the coffeemaker was a close-enough equivalent. We might have even buried one in the back yard when it stopped working. Maybe. Are you getting how serious coffee is to my people? I mean serious. Growing up in 786double6, we didn’t joke about running low on Folgers. And I mean Folgers. Because my people think, no they sway-er!, that it’s just as good, if not in fact “actually, a little better” than any coffee drink that ends with bucks. It is loved, it is plentiful, and it is served black in real estate company mugs all the day long.
And it never ends. This kind of veneration and propagation is passed on from generation to generation like a quilt. The last time my mother was here, I caught her trying to give her eight-month-old grandson a hit. (First one’s free.)
So obviously when I left our caffeine-enhanced abode and set off “on my own”, I drank coffee and lots of it because why sleep when you can do things? However, even though it wasn’t that long ago, (I swear I’m not that old, no really, I mean it, seriously) when I was in college, coffee was not all that cool. In fact, one particular night during my very extremely illustrious college years, there was this VERY cool person—let’s just call her by her Betsy-given name, Beyotch Beyotchison—who literally pointed and laughed when I ordered coffee at a bar. And okay, perhaps ordering coffee at a college bar has never been the coolest move…and of course they didn’t have it…but it seemed like a good idea at the time, as it was really late and the night was still young. The thing was, B.B. then went on and on and on and on to not shut up about the stupid coffee. At a bar. Can you believe. How ridiculous. How strange. Oh the humanity. That was 1993.
This is now. And now you can’t throw a glance without hitting a steamed, half-caf, low-fat, soy, double-foam, extra-hot delish. Talk about a religion. Coffee now has a bible. Lots of churches. And even its own festival.
And can’t we all agree that most of the frenzy, at least on a national level, can be attributed directly to Starbucks.
Love it or hate it, the Starbucks way has so dark-roast blended into our culture and venacular, that it has now served up its own inspired vocabulary. For example, my father is very extremely antiventi.
A person who rejects company size lingo and orders their beverage in small, medium and large.
Discomfort associated with a barista pressing a dirty thumb on the lid’s sipping-hole while affixing it to your cup.
When you can stand in one Starbucks and see another, such as at Astor Place or on West Gray.
When two or more customers reach for the same beverage, unsure of its ownership.
When you are forced to wait for the milk thermos you need.
A high-calorie, high-fat beverage such as the Caramel Mocha ordered with skim milk to reduce guilt.
The act of waiting until the employee can see you place money in the jar, so you can get credit for it.
A person seated so you can see the mediocre screenplay on his laptop.
By the way, all of these great new words were completely stolen from Brian Sack.
But when it comes to Starbucks, if there’s one thing as consistent as the coffee, it’s the coffee. You can order a grande, low-fat, extra-hot misto in San Jose or in Singapore. And it will taste the same. This is bad in theory. But very good in practice. Because when you are spending $3.30 for anything smaller than a car, you don’t want it to be crap. Or at least to be a disapointment. And with the bucks, you know you’ll pay them, but you know what you’ll get.
So you can hate corporate America all you want for many and varied reasons. But I say that Starbucks–the first-runner-up for the company most responsible for recently changing our land and our lives in many good not bad ways–is pretty great. Therefore, I can not be a hater.
Plus it seems to be the only thing Mary Kate and Ashley will digest.
What do you think the next craze should be?
I say crepes.