I used to think I wasn’t cool enough for Starbucks.I’d walk in, immediately become overwhelmed and intimidated by the hiss of the espresso machines, the excruciating inflections of the over-enthusiastic barristas and the complicated looking Italian words on the menu, and promptly rush across the street to Tim Horton’s instead.
I chalk this up to being from a small town where the closest starbucks was two hours away, and the double-double reigned supreme. But after a couple years of being a big city girl myself, I now am not only a Starbucks fan; I’ve also perfected the art of ordering.
Every morning, I cooly sidle up to the counter, give the barrista my best “”I’m really f**cking busy, so let’s just do this“ look, and confidently order my grande Americano (in a venti cup, mind you)- soy at the bar, please. If I’m feeling a little crazy, I might even tack on a spontaneous banana. I like to live dangerously.
I’d pat myself on the back for being such a Starbucks aficionado, if it weren’t for the fact that pretty much everybody else is one too. That person in front of you? Guaranteed their order is 10X more complicated than yours, and involves a “pump” of something or other, something “drizzled” or “sprinkled”, strict stipulations on the amount of foam, and possibly the use of a thermometer.
What really amazes me though is not only the sheer number, but the varied types of people who all share a love for Starbucks. Seriously. Hipsters, corporate executives, interns, soccer moms, highschoolers, movie producers, Britney Spears, the homeless- they may be polarized on other issues, but if you cut them, do they all not bleed Christmas Blend??
- Each location is slightly different, and caters to their clientele. The one in my young, urban neighbourhood for example is in a cool old historic building with worn-in leather couches and 19 year-old hipster barristas with asymmetrical haircuts. The one in my office tower at work, however, is all business. I’m convinced the employees are all droids operated from a single switchboard, and the place is set up like a human cattle herding device. It’s narrow as shit, and I don’t even think there are any seats in there because, let’s just face it, THERE’S NO TIME!!!!!!!!
- They pander to the ever-increasing anorexic crowd with all of those mini cupcakes and “petite scones” that are basically the size of my baby toenail. I also noted recently that almost everything in the display case is now preceded by the word “Artisan”.. which doesn’t fundamentally change anything about it, but subliminally sends the message that its made by real “salt-of-the-earth” types in an actual bakery, and not by Kris Humphries in a factory in Minnesota. (Seriously. that’s his job now).
- The music they play inside is always something that makes you feel slightly cooler for having listened to it (like Fleet Foxes, John Legend, Or Etta James) but not SO cool that it’s alienating in that “so obscure you probably never heard of it” sort of way. Plus they are always offering free iTunes downloads and selling mixtapes. A mixtape of anything increases indie cred substantially.
4. Corporate Responsibility:
- They craftily mitigate their would-be “big, bad, corporate conglomerate” status by being all do-goody and selling that Ethos water that tastes like shit, but you can’t complain about because starving babies in Africa are using it to make Soy Lattes. (Or something like that). Plus now they’re building all these “green” stores and ethically sourcing their coffee beans. Show-offs.
I sort of picture it to be like that movie, “Weird science”…. two nerdy executives load all of these elements into a supercomputer, but instead of a hot babe, out comes a half corporate/half hipster looking Human Centaur, drinking a Frappuccino and rocking out to Feist on an iPod while wearing skinny jeans and a casual sweater.
Maybe carrying around one of those white cups emblazoned with a green sea-lady doesn’t send the message of unattainable coolness- but what it does do is reduce us all to the lowest common denominator. It says, ”Hey, I’m non-threatening, have at least average taste, and am smart enough to remember a drink order that contains 17 or more words“.
And if that’s not enough validation, then I don’t really know what it is.