I covered Starbucks a few months back and some of you accused me of being a little too nice which might be a more true than I’d like to admit. I needed a little less roast and a little more toast so armed with my editor’s ‘borrowed’ credit card and a bladder the size of Charlie Sheen’s ego, I was off to do some investigative reporting.
Most of my coffee experience is limited to the gas station down the block that used to be just a gas station that sold bad coffee and now it’s a convenience store that sells bad coffee but the point of coffee is not to be especially good or there’d be support groups to get people off of it. It’s supposed to be quick and hot to shock me in consciousness in the morning or at least wake me enough to do the incredibly tough duties of a humor columnist but not wake me so much that I know I’m actually working and everything was fine, until Starbucks came along.
I walked into Starbucks and thought I was in the wrong place because it felt like a night club or a cigar bar which really don’t exist anymore because you can’t smoke anything within twenty-five miles of a building or animals, vegetables or minerals. Jazz music was being piped in which reminded me of Kerouac and it was a good thing that I was beat as I needed a good cup to jumpstart my brain.
The line was about five or so people deep and all of the people on it seemed to be smiling even though the line wasn’t moving. I was able to discern this from my keen observation skills mostly gleaned from watching CSI reruns. I looked for the big coffee thermos pumps fill with lava hot or iced cold coffee or the coffee pots they have at diners with the black tops for regular and the red top for decaf but they were absent. The place was littered with tables and couches and big overstuffed chairs with coffee drinkers scattered about chatting and playing with iPads and Kindles and clicking away on Apple laptops and pretending to be writers.
I thought for a second as I know that coffee is a flavor. They put it in ice cream and candy and Pez and beer and Pepsi and steak and condoms and it has such a strong flavor that drugs are packed in it to throw off the dogs. She called for her manager as there is no coffee flavored coffee in Starbucks which is odd since the logo says Starbucks Coffee. The manager cleared up the flavor confusion as he obviously had a life before Starbucks.
He asked if I wanted a cappuccino, a mocha, a latte, or a macchiato. I said “coffee, medium, hot.” He explained the language of Starbucks to which I responded “huh?” so he whispered to the girl who not only didn’t get my coffee from a pump or a pot, she grabbed a coffee cup and wrote on it with a Sharpie and passed it to someone else who looked at the cup and said “what the hell does this say?”
The barista, as I found out the’re called, went to a large device filled with coffee beans which could have been the love child of R2-D2 and the Tin Man. Then she took my cup to the pumping station which looked like bottles of booze with hair gel pumps. She gave me a few squirts and passed it to a trained technician best described as ‘The Stirrer’ who I’m sure was the last guy chosen in a game of pre-teen pickup suburban sports. He gave it a quick stir and slid it across the counter to me.
With the help of the Starbucks addition of Rosetta Stone, I deciphered the language called Starbucks:
A cappuccino is espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk. A macchiato is espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk. A latte is espresso with steamed milk. A Fappuccino is espresso with cold milk. A café mocha is espresso, hot milk, steamed milk, and cocoa powder.
Starbucks has recently changed their logo to exclude the ‘Coffee’ part but the ‘Bucks’ is still there so we’ll continue to pay double for our coffee. I suggested a new motto and Starbucks Corporate hasn’t gotten back to me yet. “Starbucks: Proudly delaying your order by having nine names for the same drink since 1971.”