CSI: Starbucks

By Contributing Editor Jenny Isenman

Visit her blog at suburbanjungle.net

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 made up, yet universal to all citizens.  When you visit Starbucks for the first time you might be overwhelmed by the cultural gap and the language barrier.  You see, Starbucks drinkers 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 employees, or should I call them caffeine scientists, are trained to do far more than make a cappuccino.  My barista knows the make, model, and color of my car and when he sees it drive up, he starts my drink.  He deduces that if I’m wearing golf or workout clothes I will require my usual to be iced and quickly dumps it 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 he’ll throw in an extra shot.

But, sometimes even I am shocked by how intricate requests can get.  I think some of these drinkers actually believe they have learned another language and revel 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?”

“No, it’s more froth.”

“Didn’t she imply that when she said extra foam?”

“No the frothiness actually refers to the consistency of the foam.”