Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I’m a coffee drinker; always have been. I probably starting drinking it regularly around thirteen years old and never looked back. But my coffee drinking habits have certainly changed over the years. 

My first taste of coffee was by mistake. My dear grandmother, Budgie, having lived through the Depression, hated to see anything go to waste. She would pour the cold, leftover coffee from the percolator over ice and enjoy a glass of iced coffee – and this was long before it became the popular Starbucks beverage it is today.

She drank it black, so it looked just like a glass of Coca Cola. If one of us grandchildren happened by, she’d sweetly offer, “Would you like a swig of my Coke?” Of course, we’d gulp it down and it was bitter and horrible and she’d just laugh and laugh. All six of us grandchildren have fun memories of Budgie’s “coke joke.”   

Do any of you remember the little glass cream servers that restaurants used many years ago?

They accompanied every cup of coffee for years. My parents drank their coffee black, so my younger brother and I just loved to gulp down that tiny glass of milk when we were kids. Best. Milk. Ever. 

By age thirteen, I was hooked on coffee, so Budgie would kindly include a cup of coffee with my breakfast every morning. Having remembered the horrible bitter stuff, I’ve always preferred my coffee with a little milk and sugar.  

Coffee was my friend all through college; from late-night studying to after-hours breakfasts when the discos closed at 2 a.m. 

I love a dark, strong brew. Before French and Italian dark roasts were available everywhere, I favored the French Market coffee with chicory. I still keep it on hand for a bit of nostalgia.
I really have an aversion to these flavored coffees, like hazelnut or vanilla. I like coffee. If I want hazelnut or vanilla-flavored stuff, I’ll get ice cream, thank you. 

Then, Starbucks entered our lives. Holy Mother of God, nothing else will do now. 

I lived in Toronto when Starbucks came onto the coffee scene. At every subway station in downtown Toronto, there’s a Starbucks. You come out of the station, boom, there’s your ‘Bucks. That’s brilliant marketing. Good Canadians. 

Have you noticed that we’ve easily become a bilingual nation now that Starbucks is here? Just listen to the customers in line giving their requests to the baristas.
It’s pretty amazing:  
“I’ll have a venti red-eye soy no-whip half-caf skinny frappè macchiato, please.”

Soon, immigrants will have to pass a Starbuckese proficiency exam in order gain citizenship. 

I really feel sorry for the elderly folks who just want a cup of coffee.  It’s so sad:

“I’ll have a medium coffee, please.”


“No. Coffee.”

“What size? Tall, Grandè, or Venti?”

“Um, a medium one.”

“Oh, that’s Grandè. Do you want blonde, Pike Place or bold roast?”

“Um, a medium one. Extra medium.”

“Oh. That's Pike Place. Do you want room?”


“For milk. Do you want room?”

Tears well up in their eyes. 
“I just want a cup of coffee. Please.”

I always have an urge to step in as a translator for our elderly friends. I feel sorry for them. 

I’ve learned to rattle off my order in fluent Starbuckese, though. 
“I’ll have a Grandè bold with a little room.”

The baristas almost seem disappointed with such a simple order.



At 3:09 PM , Blogger Bob said...

It used to be so simple



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