02 October 2008

"Cause you want to belong...do you go along?"

While I could sit here and lie to you that there are not many things in the world that bother me, this is not the case. Unfortunately, there is a list of things that get on my nerves, and since this is my blog and I can talk about whatever in the world I feel like, I shall now speak on one of them.


Please don't hate me and judge me right now. At least wait until the end of this and give me a chance to explain. And I shall start with this as an explanation: it's not just Starbucks, but most coffee in general. Or rather, the way people think about and drink coffee.

I am a self-proclaimed mild-coffee snob. And since I work with coffee and know how to pull a perfect shot of espresso and steam milk to the right consistency for a great cappuccino, I think that I have a right to be somewhat. However, if you want to discuss real coffee with a real coffee snob, please check out this crazy kid and request his opinion. Since working with coffee, I have come to a couple of general conclusions: (1) people rarely really like coffee, (2) what people prefer is the idea of coffee rather then the actual beverage, (3) people feel "professional" or "cool" to be seen with a coffee cup in hand and so they drink it, and (4) people like the caffeine associated with coffee. Going from the top down, (1)- I watch people everyday order a coffee and then drown it in sugar and cream. This is no longer coffee, but sugar-milk with a slight coffee taste and a caffeine kick. (2)- Goes along with (1). Instead of enjoying the taste of coffee- and we're talking straight brewed coffee, nothing fancy like a mocha latte- people like the image that drinking coffee gives them, whether that be a grown up and professional look or a middle/high schooler carrying java around. These people probably fill the cup half full of flavoured creamer, and add some coffee in. (3) Goes back to (2). I remember in high school and even some in middle school how "cool" it seemed to go hang out at the local coffee house and order a drink. Even if I just got a steamer or hot chocolate. (4) Caffeine. Self-explanatory, and the only reason that drinks like Red Bull and Monster are popular.

Now. Since I have explained a little, I shall now continue on to Starbucks, which is a coffee shop so all of the generalizations from before fit in here. This shop is vastly popular for some reason. Maybe it's the fact that "small, medium, and large" are not good enough, and we had to go "tall, vente, and grande." But "tall" isn't that tall so let's not call it that, ok? Because honestly, their coffee is bitter and not that good. And frappuccino. Oh I hate these. I have, on occasion, ordered this drink when I wanted a drink that was something like a milkshake, so I'm not judging people who like it, but let's face it: the coffee taste in this is about a 0.4. But these really have little to do with coffee. The place I work has a drink similar to this called a "frappe." A lady came in one morning and ordered it, telling me, "I just have to have one of these every morning. I need the caffeine and I'm addicted." I looked at her and as kindly as I could explained that at least the way that we make it, there is no espresso in it and I couldn't promise there actually was any caffeine in it at all. She was really surprised, but was ok with me offering to make her a mocha latte which does in fact contain espresso and was probably something more what she was looking for.

Maybe the point isn't that people really don't like coffee but rather the idea of it. Maybe it's not that Starbucks annoys me, but rather that it is a trend. Maybe what it really boils down to is that it annoys me that people feel the need to need something to make themselves feel better. I didn't like coffee in high school. I didn't like the taste. So why did I get a cappuccino from Speedway? Why did I order a mocha latte from the local coffee shop? Because both of these drinks are loaded up with flavouring that masks the taste of coffee. The caffeine did it's job and I felt "cool" and that I "fit in" because I was drinking an adult-type drink. Now, I like the taste of coffee and almost always drink it straight black. In high school, I felt the need to try and fit in. All my friends were drinking coffee and specialty coffee drinks, I wanted to also, so I got one that drowned out the bad taste to get to the good stuff. Fortunately for me, it was coffee and not something like a Jack and coke or screwdrivers or something along those lines.

What's my point. Trendy icons. I think that's it. If you truly like a good cup o' joe, go for it. If you truly like your vente, double skinny latte, be my guest. But what did you do in high school to try and fit in or to make yourself appear cool? Coffee was apparently one of mine.
Why can't we all just be comfortable with who we are? More importantly, how far will people go to try and fit in?

and ps. The title of this is from a great song that really hit home for me in highschool called Hero by Superchic[k].