Image by EgoAnt via Flickr
When I want a special treat that involves energy- inspiring caffeine, I go to Starbucks for a small, skim latte. I go rarely but once every 4-6 months I treat myself. However, I refuse to go in there talking the Starbucks talk. I ask for a small or medium, on purpose. I get great pleasure out of it. I don’t know if I am doing this to annoy them or If do it to make a personal statement; probably a combination. The self-imposed lesson to communicate: “Hey, you have really good coffee, but the silly names of the sizes? Too pretentious. So, I order a small, or a medium and nobody cares, except me, and they hand me my coffee and I am happy.
I was banning Starbucks altogether until my friend Sarah, introduced me to the skinny vanilla latte. It’s so good and the calories are (supposedly) low and that it’s a guilt-less treat. I hate to admit it but this is the product that brought me back to Starbucks. However, when I see how much it is, I cringe and feel guilty at the waste of money; I believe it is near three and a half dollars. That’s insanity and logically I know that. Until I take that first taste of that frothy sweet piece of heaven. Now, when I go, I don’t hesitate, I know what I am ordering; I am ordering the vanilla dream, that light, skinny, sweet taste of comfort.
It’s a dilemma. I’m paying an enormous amount of money for basically three sips of a beverage. I know I am not paying for just the flavor, I am paying for the Starbucks brand and hype. I am paying for the product recognition of that white and green cup and the cute, cardboard brown wrapper to protect my hands from getting too hot. I am buying someone elses skill to make the coffee and clean up the coffee grounds so I can sip it and feel like a million bucks. Something about that is just not right; but it works. That is why Starbucks is so successful, they know what they are doing and people just keep on sipping, and slurping.
Putting my lips against the white plastic cup is enjoyable. My lips and tongue search and linger to find the right, exact angle to take a sip from the alloted slot. I take it to-go and walk outside, my taste buds lingering on every sweet sip. It’s basically coffee for sugar lovers (or sugar-free facsimile). It’s a brand that works and even though I boycott, even though I try to save money, even though I make fun of the names of the sizes, unfortunately I am hooked. There lies the contradiction, of course it’s pretentious, and part of me likes that and part of me doesn’t. I don’t like the names but I like the cute cups and logo?
The smell of the coffee shop, the people sitting at the round wooden tables with their books or computers or friends. You feel like you are part of something when you go to Starbucks and you are. Yes, it is undeniably over-priced and pretentious, but it’s also good, strong, coffee with attitude, to go.