You Are What You Drink
A very smart man, named Tom Hanks, in a movie called, "You've got Mail", once said, "...People [Starbucks customers**] who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are, can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee, but an absolutely defining sense of self."
This is so true, and it took me back to my barista days. I worked as one for four years, and I knew everyone by their drink. The following are a few names of some of my best customers:
20 oz. Decaf 4-Shot Americano Man
12 oz. Mexican Mocha Guy
16 oz. 2-Shot Sludge Cup w/ Extra Room Man
16 oz. 2-Shot Heath Mocha Blend w/ Only 2 1/2 Scoops & 3-Pumps of Sugar-Free Raspberry Lady
20 oz. Hot Lavender Yerba Mate Pulled All The Way Through Lady
12 oz. 4-Shot Skinny Latte Girl
I didn't know any of these people by their real names. In their coffee world these were their name, and strangely, they were totally happy with that. In coffee world people are more excited the barista remembers their drink than their name. It gives a whole new meaning to "you are what you eat." In Starbucks, you are what you drink. You are not a person; you are a tall americano or a vente mocha, and that is it.
The question is, why are people okay with being defined as a drink? Is it because we are not born being extra foamy cappuccinos or skinny lattes? Are we able to create who we are recognized as by a very cool and thriving industry, and this industry will now know us as we want them to. I think so. Coffee does not establish who is rich and who is poor, or who works at a gas station and who is a lawyer because the price range is so small. A millionaire could order a $1.95 cup of coffee and no one would think twice. This is why it is very easy for people to start defining themselves through coffee drinks. You could work as a garbage man all day or be in debt up to your eye balls, but when you step into Starbucks, everyone is equals for a moment. You can be whoever you want to be. You might be reluctant to tell people what you do or how much money you make, but in Starbucks, you step up to the register and you practically say, "I am a Grande Mocha, and I am proud… And you know nothing else about me, and I like that!"
The next question is, if we were all stripped down naked, could we define people through their coffee drink? Would we form cliques? Would the Frappuccino people get a long with the brewed coffee drinkers? (Probably not, but we have other means to identify if someone is good enough for us or not.) I admit in the very back of my mind I have thoughts of people as I hear them order things in line. The following are a few "generalizations:"
Brewed coffee = No nonsense person. Just give them their f&*$ing caffeine***
Americano = Their too good to get something as simple as brewed coffee, so they'll get the most similar thing to that. Plus it makes them feel more important. ***
Chai Tea = They think coffee tastes gross ***
Hot Chocolate = They have a kid in the car.
Frappuccino = Oh, please. Don't even call yourself a coffee drinker.***
Tea = Why don't they just make that at home and quit wasting space in this valuable line.***
Large Mocha Breve = Glutton.
I call these generalizations because 1 in 10 probably actually fall into the stated categories, but I can't help but think this. I also can't help but feel a sense of comfort when I walk into a coffee shop. It's like a little sanctuary from life for a very brief moment every morning. How many of us have been so confused about things and magically felt somewhat better after entering a coffee shop? It's not because the music is cool or their is free wi-fi. It's because it's a place where we can control who we are and what we want. No matter how crazy life gets I can walk into Starbucks and choose and create my world. I am very angry at Starbuck's marketing team for making me feel like I can be whoever I want to be for 10 minutes every morning, and I feel duped. Yet, tomorrow morning, I will wake up and walk across the street, and for ten minutes become the Double Espresso w/ an Inch of Soy Milk Girl.
** I am in no way endorsing Starbucks and personally prefer Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, but Starbucks is closer to my house, and its name is shorter and therefore much easier to use in a story.
***Drinks I have ordered.