The first thing you should know is I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker. Up until maybe a few years ago, coffee was a rarity for me. But like most things when you start dating someone, you tend to assimilate some behaviors. In the process of getting to know someone and their habits, the one thing I found was that Latin American women when given the chance, to put a cup or a plate in front of you, they will. And so began this posthumous love affair with a beverage that my mother unequivocally categorized as a catalyst for the “stunting of my growth.” To this day, my mother sincerely and wholeheartedly believes that the only reason that I’m 6’5 is because she never allowed me to drink coffee, not my genetic predisposition t0 height, but because I didn’t consume caffeine throughout my childhood. But I digress.
A few years ago I started dating a very lovely woman who had a part-time gig at Starbucks that she refused to give up purely because of her access coffee and coffee related resources. They give them free bags of coffee damn it! How the hell is someone not supposed to take and consume something that’s free?! And me being the “Connoisseur of Freeness” that I am, felt morally and ethically obligated to oblige.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been the Starbucks a lot, but it was for their flavored teas and their signature hot caramel apple cider. There was also a hot white chocolate in the mix here and there. But actual coffee almost never happened. I grew up on Dunkin’ Donuts and Folgers Crystals. So $4.50 for bougie fancy coffee always seems kind of absurd to me, which may be the root of the real problem. All my life, my coffee experiences had been very limited. And now finding a new comfort zone has somewhat expanded my palette. But it also comes with a whole NEW set of problems.
Case in point, I’ve found a very simple “2-step.” You know, the little side to side shuffle that works with almost any beat you dance to, where you’re not doing too much but just enough where you don’t look like you don’t have any rhythm whatsoever? Right? Right. So my simple Starbucks is “Caramel Macchiato”… Hot or iced… When I wanna get real fancy, I add two pumps of toffee nut, Jesus Lawd in heaven, do I love me some toffee nut. BUT lately the professional meetings and meetups require me to be in spaces other than a Starbucks where they don’t have Caramel Macchiatos as I know them from the Starbucks menu! Professionals (mainly Millennials) want to meet at REAL coffee shops! NOT Starbucks! (Who knew? Well apparently, everyone else did but me!)
So recently I got caught up at a local coffee shop, at a meeting with a 9-to-5 industry colleague, where I attempted to order my normal beverage. The “Venti and Grande” of the story (You see what I did there?) is that it did not go well. I’m a bougie but shitty coffee drinker. So with a mindful situational awareness, I recognized that I was at a crossroad. I could try to correct the “barista”(fancy Italian word for guy/gal with student loans that need paying off, just like I do) and express to them that this isn’t the method in which I prefer my beverage prepared; rather the traditional corporate method of “one-standard-taste-fits-all” that I’m accustomed to. OR suck it up and drink my tiny cup, almost no steamed milk, no artificially flavored pumped syrup, beverage that Italians intended me to have with bitter beer face and like it… So I took the “L” and drunk the tiny bitter coffee. Slowly.
And of course, the worst part is that all this does is make me wanna run back to “the rivers & lakes that I’m used to.” My little 2-step Macchiato in the back of the coffee club where no one is watching.
And before you even ask, Yes, I immediately went to Starbucks after.