In case you thought last week’s coffee lifestyle article was something of a joke, a headline from today’s Muncie, IN The Star Press might convince you otherwise: Coffee: Drink or lifestyle? How about both? | The Star Press – www.thestarpress.com – Muncie, IN. Except here your lifestyle statement isn’t so much in your choice of what you drink, but rather in where you drink it.

And when you’re living in Muncie, IN, anything this side of Denny’s Bunn-warmer drip coffee is emancipating. (And as a guest speaker at Ball State University, I have actually been to Muncie and sampled the local coffee.) Thus the article predictably offers a good dose of middle America’s cult-like worship of Starbucks. Here there are more platitudes about the “third place” in our lives — and how Starbucks set the standard for speciality coffee. And yet Starbucks remains the standard, despite the explosive growth of better alternatives.

But when you check all the references, you quickly come to the realization that much of the cult of Starbucks and its ‘Buckniks has little to do with their coffee. More often, it’s about brand coziness with a clean, approachable, predictable, and convenient location and their variety of high-calorie milkshakes (with coffee added for flavoring). When you come down to it, the great irony is that a lot of people really don’t like the taste of coffee. Yet Starbucks thrives under a coffee identity by making the otherwise unpallatable pallatable for millions of consumers, serving it under various disguises.

Today’s The Star Press also offers a capsule on Muncie’s four best coffee options: Caffeine addicts sing the praises of Muncie’s growing collection of shops | The Star Press – www.thestarpress.com – Muncie, IN (pardon my gagging over the title: another cliché caffeine riff that plagues so many unimaginative writers). In case you should ever find yourself lost in northeast Indiana.