Welcome to Starbucks, what can I get you today?

I fucking love coffee…

There, now that I have your attention, can I tell how much I love coffee?  I drink coffee all day long.  It doesn’t even have to be good coffee.  In reality, sometimes coffee doesn’t taste that good.  In fact, sometimes it tastes like shit… but I’ll still drink it… and plenty of it.  At work we drink plain old Maxwell House coffee with that white powdered “dairy product” creamer mixed in and I’ll down that stuff all day long.  I’m not sure why I drink so much coffee.  The caffeine buzz wore off years ago.  Maybe it’s my version of the cigarette, just an habitual thing.  Or maybe I’m addicted… or just bored.

I am also a fan though of good, high quality coffee.  My wife is a coffee snob so she always buys the little $8.00-$10.00 vacuum sealed bags of coffee when she shops for groceries, rather than the cheap oil-drum size cans of the name-brand products.  There are many of these exclusive brands available now, everything from Starbucks to Dunkin’ Donuts to the local grocery store brands, and it’s no doubt, better tasting stuff than what you get in the can.   We are also big fans of dropping $3-$4 bucks on Latte’s at Starbucks stores or at our local café or wherever we can get our shaking hands onto that warm, frothy cup of coffee ecstasy.

So, what’s my point?  When you go to Starbucks you have to place your order in their language.  The language of the coffee barista!  I don’t know what language it actually is… some of it sounds kind of French-y, some of it sounds kind of Italian-y.  So I guess it’s a combination of European cultural language sounds all wrapped up into one good ol’ American chain store.

We never order anything other than Medium Latte’s made with skim milk.  That’s not because we have been totally frightened off by the stifling pressure involved in ordering a Double Espresso Macchiato or an Espresso Con Panna or even an Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha.  We just prefer Medium Latte’s with Skim Milk… good coffee, a little frothy milk, low-cal.

In Starbuck’s language a Medium Latte with Skim Milk is a Grande Non-Fat Latte.  Four pretty simple words all lined up in precise order.  Early on when Starbuck’s was just starting to build it’s seven billion locations, ordering was a challenge and after a couple visits where I actually exposed my complete ignorance and ordered a “medium latte with skim milk” I started to understand the language.  But I still struggled with it and I hated that the clerks were always sure to subtly correct me.

Starbucks drive through Employee:  “Good morning, what can I get you today?”

Me (nervous):  “Uh, yeah… I’d like a Non-Fat Grande Latte.”

Starbucks drive through Employee:  “A Grande, Non-Fat Latte?  Would you like anything to eat with that?”

Me (thinking, damn I fucked it up… again… maybe if I order a scone or something they won’t think I’m a complete hillbilly.  But I hate scones, they’re hard and nasty and like eating petrified bread.)  “Uh, yeah… can I have a blueberry muffin?”

Starbucks drive through Employee:  “Yes, a Grande, Non-Fat Latte and a blueberry muffin.  That will be $18.97.  Please drive around to the next window.”

Me: (thinking… next time I’m gonna nail it!)

Fast forward a few years and many successful Latte orders…

This past Sunday my wife and I were driving over to Detroit to see the Detroit Lions/Minnesota Vikings game at Ford Field.  I’ve been a Vikings fan since I was a kid and she bought me the tickets early in the fall for my birthday.  It’s about a 2 hour drive from where we live, so on the way there when our travel coffee cups ran dry we pulled off an exit and found a Starbucks where we could get some coffee.

As I pulled up to the drive through window, my wife jokingly says to me “make sure you say it right.”  That threw me into a fit of hysterical laughter… you know, one of those laughing fits where you just can’t stop!  Her too, and now the drive through speaker comes alive.

Starbucks drive through Employee:  “Good morning, what can I get you today?”

Me: (thinking, stop laughing you dumb ass!) “Yes, I’d like two Grande Non-Fat Latte’s…. (pause)……… Medium” 

As, I pull the car around to the pay-window, my wife still laughing says “the Grande IS the Medium.”

Good thing she loves me… we got a good laugh and had a nice day together at the game.

… and the next time I’m at a Starbucks… I’m gonna nail it!


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14 responses to “Welcome to Starbucks, what can I get you today?

  1. OK you got to me on this one. After hours of being on this machine researching, goggling, signing up for stuff and places and generally getting lost as usual I need more coffee!!

    I’d love to put parts of this and a link to this on my posts for this week. I’m doing Vintage Coffee makers and we’re starting with the percolator.

    If interested contact me through my work email antiquevintageforum@gmail.com

    Jan from The Vintage Appliance Forum https://ramonasvintageapplianceforum.wordpress.com/

  2. I have the Starbucks App for iPhone. I drink from my Kuerig at home. When I buy coffee in the morning it is always a Venti skinny vanilla latte extra hot. At night it is a Grande ( MEDIUM) de-cafe vanilla cafe misto extra hot or a grande chai latte no water no foam extra hot. 🙂 mmmmm coffeee Damn I love coffee!!!!!!!!

  3. Holy crap… a Venti skinny vanilla latte extra hot or a Grande de-cafe vanilla cafe misto extra hot! I definitely would have “effed” those orders up! I love how passionate people are about coffee. Thanks for the comment!

  4. We dont have a Starbucks here, but we do have Seattle Coffee (I am sure that they were imported!) All in shopping centres, no drive throughs…… anyway- they have teh exact same language thing going! One of teh first times i ever ordered, i ordered exactly what i wanted in layman’s terms. She cashier ended up rambling somthing “….. with wings” “Pardon?” “No i dont want wings, what is wings?” I was actually quite embarrassed after that.
    And yes, i love Coffee too. Especially the kind i get here at my office!!! I think it is the smell of the pot that first hooks me.

  5. When ever I go to Starbucks (or Costa Coffee) I always order a medium vanilla latte. I just can’t bring myself to use Starbucks language!

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  8. Country Living

    Cinamin Dole Latte with wipped cream please! Oh and quad shot it! Oh how I miss Starbucks!! lol…

  9. I refuse to use Starbucks’ sizing method, just on principal, and I get plain ‘ol coffee at McDonalds, just cuz I’m cheap.
    We have a Bunn coffee maker at work and it makes the worst, God-awful stuff ever. Something about the water always being hot, it doesn’t give it enough time to steep. Ditto on the coffee love fest!

  10. Joan

    Baristas read it from the top to the bottom marking boxes. You insert the size (tall, grande, venti, trenta) between the shots and syrup boxes. 🙂

    The XH (extra hot), XF (extra foam), XWC (extra whipped cream), XH20 (extra water) or slashed ‘/’ versions of them instead of the X-ed, goes before the name of the basic drink.

    So if you want an medium skinny vanilla latte extra hot, it’s called out as a grande, extra hot, skinny vanilla latte (since SKVL is a basic starbucks drink).

    And “grande chai latte no water no foam extra hot” is grande, no water, no foam, extra hot, chai tea latte. 🙂

    -Starbucks Barista

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