April 27 – Day 20 – $tarbucks (parte 2)

[part 2 of 2]

[When we last left our hapless, clueless hero, he was lost in a $tarbucks trying to order a cup of coffee and not feel like a total outsider.  And if that doesn’t make sense, please go back and read yesterday’s post.]


It has never helped me to study the $tarbucks menu beforehand either.

I’m sure, way back in the 1980‘s when the Go-Go’s had the beat and the B52‘s were eating Rock Lobster, there was a bilingual dictionary provided where you could look up what all of the words meant.  30 years later, they just expect you to know it like the metric system.  I drank coffee all throughout Europe so I know Espresso, Cappuccino and even a Latte.  But Macchiato?  Wasn’t he the guy who played the Karate Kid?  How could he be on the menu?  con Panno?  Doesn’t that mean “with bread?”  Flat White?  Skinny?  Dry?  Breve?  I got nothing.

When I’m not too tired from writing everyday for this Ultimate Blog Challenge, I’ve actually looked some of this up online.  There are pages and pages devoted to how to order, what everything means, diagrams, instructions, primers and the whole lot!  How, in the Lord of Coffee’s name, did this business flourish to the point where the common tongue is barely helpful?  If I want to feel foolish, I’ll go to France and try to order something, thank-you-very-much.

Here are the 6 orders that noisily preceded mine at a busy $tarbucks last week:

“Venti 7 Pump no Whip White Mocha.”

“Decaf Double Tall non-fat extra-dry cappuccino.”

“Quad grande no-whip 170 mocha macchiato.”

“Grande with Whip Mocha Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee”

“Quad Venti Skinny with Whip Iced Caramel Macchiato”

“Iced Half-Caf, Quad, Grande, Soy, Starbucks Doubleshot on Ice + Energy”

And then I walk up and say, “Medium Black Coffee?”  We all know how that turned out.  This is not your father’s coffee shop.

I never know where to stand in a $tarbucks.  There’s rarely a free table to sit down at, so I invariably stand lost at the counter where I ordered until someone behind it (usually the “bartender”) points me away to one end or the other.  Ah, the pickup station!  That’s where I’m supposed to stand!  No, that’s where you move to when they call the name they wrote on your cup.  If you’re standing there too soon, the regulars coming to grab their expensive coffees will let you know, in no uncertain non-verbal terms that you’re standing in the wrong place.  They will, with great drama, reach over and past you to get to their name embossed cups.  Somehow, you’re supposed to find a 3rd position to stand until that time.

I wait till they yell “Nick” (they never get my name right), move over, grab it and go.

Every $tarbucks I’ve ever been in, all 7 of them, look like dorm lounges.  There are people dressed in sweats and fuzzy booties with their laptops, cozied in for what must be hours of studying and caffeination.  I feel like I’m intruding, like I’ve awakened in someone else’s den.  Everyone looks somewhat similar too.  Like there’s a certain dress code and everybody knows to dress vaguely Canadian.  I’m dead certain that if aliens where to quietly invade the planet, they would dress like Starbuckians and hide out in these coffee shops until the call came.

Part of me really wants to belong.  I genuinely want to understand it and go chill at $tarbucks.  I don’t know how I’d still be able to do my job if I were successful at that, but I’m barely doing my job now during this blog contest anyway.  I only complain because I feel like the kid who wasn’t chosen for basketball because I suck.  I suck at feeling at home in a $tarbucks, so why should they welcome me?  I can’t wear ski hats in the summer, I don’t lug around a backpack and my laptop everywhere, and I don’t look vaguely Canadian.

I think I’ll stick to brewing mine at home.

[Note:  The author genuinely likes Canadians and no Canadians were harmed in the making of this blog.]




13 thoughts on “April 27 – Day 20 – $tarbucks (parte 2)

  1. LOVE your writing, Mick :) I can relate to your feelings about coffee, even though I’m not even a coffee drinker! When my hubby first came over to Australia to do a reccie trip, he told me of how hard it was to order a cup of coffee – it was like a game of 20 questions and he couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just go and make A.Cup.Of.Coffee!

    • Thanks, Tamsin! I love that my midnight posts on America’s Left Coast always seem to catch countries of the Crown. My wife (raised in the London area) is not a coffee drinker either, but she carries one of those un-spillable tea mugs with her everywhere she goes. I may write about it at some point.

      I agree with your hubby. REAL coffee drinkers drink it black, no sugar. ;-)

  2. I’m with you, Mick. I brew my favorite Trader Joe’s blend at home. Once a Purim, I might stop in for a large soy latte at Starbucks, but they darn well better know what that means because I refuse to translate it into vente, trente caf jargon for them. (rebel that I am). If I’m feeling especially adventurous, I might even ask for an extra shot! Carry on, and keep us laughing!

    • Sheri, I just love that you used the phrase, “Once a Purim,…” ;-)

      My wife, who does NOT drink coffee at all, has probably been to $tarbucks more than I and usually gets some soy chai thing. I’ve had sips of it and it tastes like a hot spiced milk shake of some kind.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Seriously, Liz? 1am for a cuppa? You’re braver than I. I don’t dare risk that just before bed. ;-)

      Thanks for all of the support and kind words you’ve sent my way.

      • I was asleep earlier and got up to do some work before I did my live stream writing workshop later yesterday morning/afternoon. I don’t drink coffee before going to bed, after doing a couple of hours work, I did get some more shut eye and had more joe when I did my live stream.

        We writers are here to help and support each other. :)

  3. I don’t know what all the cufoofle is about. Who cares about different ways of serving coffee? Would anybody bother to print how to drink tea? The whole thing is pushed by the coffee company $$ to earn more $$. I don’t drink coffee. I’m English. Well, we can’t say that anymore as the big coffee companies move in from America. Love your writing style, Mark. Keep blogging.

    • Thanks, Francene. Obviously, I agree with you, but please note that $tarbucks has already invaded the UK too. I’m sure there are hundreds of outlets all across your fair land.


      They’ve managed to make coffee drinkers out of people who don’t even like coffee by adding all the milks, sugars and flavorings.

      Glad you’re enjoying Mark’s writing style and look forward to wooing you away from him to Mick’s world soon. ;-)



  4. Rarely, if ever, does someone make me laugh out loud when I’m reading their blog. You, my friend are the exception. My favorite line:

    I’m dead certain that if aliens where to quietly invade the planet, they would dress like Starbuckians and hide out in these coffee shops until the call came”

    So glad I inspired you with my own recent post. I will try to remember NOT to ask you to go have coffee with me at Starbucks. (BTW, I just finished my Grande Decaf Skinny Mocha and it was DELICIOUS.)

  5. Another LOL post, Mick, that I can totally relate to. Last summer in a nearly empty $tarbucks, I was only female in line of two waiting to order. I ordered my tall skinny latte. I always order the same thing because like you, it’s the only thing on the menu that won’t get me into trouble and that doesn’t require advanced $tarbucks vocabulary.

    What’s your name?
    Do you spell that “ie” , “i” or “y”?

    The guy behind me and I got the absurdity of the question with such an incredulous good laugh that he offered to pay for mine! I’m not sure the Barrista ever got it!

  6. This is one of my favorite blog days (2). You are able to take something we all know about and make it funny. I’d love to see what you have to say about so many TV stations, and would you take a challenge to write something funny about gas prices?

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