Thursday, March 31, 2005

Starbucks Speak

In a spooky follow on from the men-can’t-ask-for-a-proper-haircut issue raised a few days ago, I’ve now come across a similar episode at Starbucks, namely - men are crap at ordering a cup of coffee. I have some sympathy with this dilemma because there are apparently 190,000 possible permutations of the coffee experience at Starbucks, what with all the different sizes, flavourings, number of espresso shots etc. So a few years back when I found something I liked, I committed it to memory and have ordered the same thing every time since. All hail the adventurous traveller.

Here in the UK, the Starbucks phenomenon is a relatively new retail experience. The standard of product, environment and customer service varies dramatically throughout the country but one thing that remains consistent is the reticence evident in the British male customer as he approaches the counter. They come in all shapes and guises.

There’s the first-time bluffer who ignores the menu board and tries to bluster his way through the ordering process, usually at a high volume.


As soon as he’s paid, he instantly forgets what it was he ordered and will grab the first exotic sounding drink he hears called out at the other end of the counter. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to wrench my coffee from the sweaty hands of an over eager arse.

At the other end of the customer spectrum there’s the nervous male customer who scrutinises the menu board for an interminable amount of time but then loses heart and says,

Eh, just this bottle of water please... and a chocolate muffin.”

Lying somewhere between the two is the guy I stood behind in the queue yesterday who wants to try the coffee experience but doesn’t quite know where to start.

Barista: “Yes sir, what can I get you?”

Guy: “I’d like one of your caffè lattes please, white not black.”

Barista: “The latte IS white sir. It’s made with steamed milk.”

Guy: “Really? That’s fine then.”

Barista: “What size would you like?”

Guy: “Eh, small thanks.”

Barista: “A tall?”

Guy: “No, no just that little cup there.”

Barista: “That’s a tall sir. It’s the smallest size we have for a latte.”

Guy: “Oh right. On second thoughts I’ll just have tea.”

Close but no cigar. At least we’re learning at our own pace and haven’t quite reached the ridiculous lengths often observed in America. I once heard a guy in Texas demand a “1% grande latte”. He went on to explain that he didn’t want the normal latte made with semi-skimmed (2%) milk or the non-fat ('skinny') version made with skimmed (0%) milk but a version made up of half of each… as if he could tell the difference. Arse.


At 1/4/05 6:24 pm, Blogger DC said...


Just what exactly is your fave ? I suspect it's not a " 1%grande latte ".


At 1/4/05 10:04 pm, Blogger carl said...

That's why I stay at home or go to 7-11. What no 7-11's in the UK? What an arse I am.

At 2/4/05 1:08 am, Blogger Neil said...

Since you're asking (buying?), my favourite is a triple venti caramel macchiato... very strong, very sweet... just like me, ho, ho!

Nope, no 7-11s in the UK - you'd be lucky to find a 9-5.

At 6/4/05 3:32 pm, Blogger McSporran said...

What does the triple venti add?
I usually go for the caramel macchiato (probably because the first time I was in a Starucks I was with you and mumbled "Same again, thanks" after your order) but am curious what the ventis do!?!

At 4/10/05 3:45 am, Blogger Kevin Jackson said...

Well, this is interesting. I did a blog search for starbucks barista and found your site. When I get some time I'll come back and find out where starbucks barista appears and how it relates - if it even does. Take care - nice work.

At 4/10/05 11:43 am, Blogger kalisekj said...

Hey, I have enjoyed...your blog is informative - even entertaining.

I have a halloween sites. They pretty much covers costumes and masks related stuff.

Thanks again and I'll be sure to bookmark you.


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