When you walk into a Starbucks, it's a little like entering another country. Some of the language is "Italianish" and the rest is completely fabricated, yet universally understood by all of its regular patrons.
Like any new country you visit for the first time, you might be overwhelmed by the cultural gap and the obvious language barrier.
You see, Starbucks addicts (ahem) aficionados, have an acute understanding of this made-up ordering system;the terminology, how to conjugate the verbs and the proper phrasing of the request (i.e., size first, then special requirements, then drink type).
The baristas, or should I call them caffeination interpreters, are trained to do far more than make a cappuccino. My barista knows the make, model and color of my car. When he sees it drive up, he starts my drink. He deduces that if I'm wearing golf, tennis or workout clothes when I exit said vehicle, that I will require my usual to be iced... and has the appropriate drink ready by the time I hit the door.
He is keenly aware of my standard approach speed and if I seem to be ambling along, he'll throw in an extra shot.
But sometimes, even I, a citizen with a green card -- or should I say gold card -- am shocked by how intricate requests can get. I think some of these drinkers actually believe they've learned another language and take an odd pride in this false sense of intelligence.
Today, the woman in front of me ordered a tall, 2 Splenda, extra dry machiatto with extra foam -- on the fly.
Extra dry? Really? "What is extra dry... just beans? Or does the dryness have something to do with the foam?" I asked my trusty Caffeination Interpreter.
C.I.: "No, the consistency of the foam is directly correlated to the frothiness." He replied.
Why do I feel like I'm having a conversation with NASA?
And yet, who am I to talk? I know that a standard latte is made at 160°, which would be bad enough, except that I also know that I prefer mine at a warm 140°.
My barista, who writes "Jenny from the blog" on every cup, actually figured this out while analyzing my drinking habits.
C.I.: "I've noticed you seem to wait about eight minutes for your coffee to cool. I think the problem is an over-sensitive pallet and I suggest you drop the temp by 20 degrees fahrenheit."
Me: "Shit, I think in Celsius. I knew trying to seem Euro like Madonna and Gwyneth P. would come back to bite me in the arse one day, and today is the day!"
Soon, coffee analysis and Starbucks interpretation will be something you can major in, like criminal justice.
At the very least, CBS will make it into a show, CSI Starbucks.
"Everyone step away from the mocha, CSI Starbucks unit (Coffee Scene Investigation) is here."
"There is nothing to see here, please disperse."
"OK, what seems to be the problem, ma'am?"
Disgruntled Customer: "My mocha is not smooth enough, it's too wet and the dollop is shaped like a malnourished Asian elephant -- I specifically said grande, 18 pump, emaciatedly skinny, mildly damp, 157° Mocha-chokeo-nit-ccino with extra whip that is dolloped in the shape of an African pygmy monkey."
The area around the cup is taped off and a bit is spilled into a petri dish and run out of the store to a mobile unit.
The maverick of the team fearlessly swipes his finger through the java then smells and licks it as if it's cocaine. "One more lick for good measure and an extra jolt," he says as he rubs some across his gums. His expertise is obvious.
"Well, your first problem is that this is only 16 pumps. You're two pumps shy. It's also a mere 142°, which if my calculations are correct, means that seven minutes ago, when your drink was prepared it was 155° and not a degree more. Your last problem was in the call. The cashier/Mayor should know not to call a whip sculpted in the shape of anything other than the Starbuck's mermaid goddess on our logo, who we in the biz affectionately call Flo."
Disgruntled Customer: "Like flow of the coffee or flow of the ocean?"
"Ma'am, I'm not at liberty to discuss 'Flo' with civilians. Let's just leave it at that."
"Look, we're gonna take this downtown to the Capt'n. Yep, 'Cappy Joe,' or 'Cuppa Joe' as we like to call him, is the best. He'll have this coffee and a full report back to you by day's end. Please enjoy a maximum of two hours of free Internet access in the mean time."
"And don't forget to try one of our new Refreshers™ they taste like fruit, but keep you alert like coffee... Plus, they give us mind-controlling abilities."
"Huh, what was the last part you said?"
Here's another piece by Jenny that has no real relevance, but'll make you laugh: The Most Embarrassing 80's Moment You Never Had | But I Did
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