Meghan E. Irons of The Boston Globe takes issue with the absurd new language required of customers ordering coffee these days: Listen, barista, I’ll take my joe talk straight – The Boston Globe. It’s what I’ve ridiculed here previously as the double-tall, four-pump vanilla caramel macchiato.
A Northeastern University linguist quoted in the article suggests that the lingo is part of the corporate branding (for the likes of big brands like Starbucks, etc.) Another expert suggests that the lingo helps create the “perception of customization” as part of the corporate experience.
Perception is the key word here. There are untold businesses designed around the notion of making consumers believe that they are special and unique — and that their purchasing decisions help assert their individuality. Dr Pepper tells us to “Be you” and celebrates our “originality” — all the while selling countless cans of the same stuff to millions of people who are supposed to believe in this supposed uniqueness.
“Do you have any orange-flavored orange juice?”
This isn’t just a coffee phenomenon, I’m afraid. I used to drink orange juice every day until I was diagnosed with Type 1 (formerly “juvenile”) diabetes over a decade ago. Last month I went to buy orange juice for the first time in years for some guests, and I discovered that buying orange juice was a far greater challenge than I ever remembered: less pulp, pulp free, blends, extra vitamins C & E plus zinc, low acid, with or without calcium, heart-healthy, country style, for kids, etc., etc.
A quick errand to the grocery store suddenly became a 20 minute decision. When did buying a quart of orange juice suddenly become so complicated?
The seminal L.A. punk rock band, X — in their 1987 song “See How We Are” — mocked our so-called “freedom of choice” when they sang about how there were seven kinds of Coke and 500 kinds of cigarettes. By December 2005, there were 28 kinds of Coke (and this before this month’s introduction of Coca-Cola BlāK). This is a marketing trend that’s not going away anytime soon.
But with coffee, unlike orange juice, you don’t have to conform to the lingo. Just repeat after me: “a single espresso, please.”
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