To me, ordering at Starbucks can be an ordeal.
I walk into the small coffee shop at the top of the hour. A collection of students stands in the centre of the room. Packed circular tables surround them.
After a few steps, I notice the long lineup. And so I stand, and I glare at my cellphone every few seconds to see how late I will be for my next class, all for just a sweet, delicious, overpriced coffee.
I could go to Tim Hortons, but I like Starbucks. I just don’t like the long, agonizing experience that is ordering at Starbucks. The lineup is too long. I can deal with the slightly more expensive coffee. I just wish the waiting time could somehow be shortened as compensation.
Now I have to prepare. I know the Starbucks lingo (not off by heart), but the employees like to get a head start. You never really know when they’re going to yell at you from behind the counter, asking for your order. I have to make sure I know what I’m getting, because “Can I have a medium double-double?” doesn’t fly in this part of campus.
I don’t particularly mind the Starbucks language. I mean, “latte”, “frappuccino”, “espresso”—that’s simple enough. But when I hear the Starbucks Queen announce her order, nose high, dignified, and proud: “Venti; one pump hazelnut, one pump caramel, one and a half vanilla bean powder with a touch of mint, extra ice frappuccino, with one shot of espresso, non-fat whipped cream, both caramel and chocolate drizzle…”
I stand in line, listen to the orders, and wonder if I should explore the world of Starbucks. Do I dare go beyond my medium coffee?
Perhaps purchasing a frappuccino today has its perks. I could avoid the awkward dialogue with the Starbucks employee.
I wish they could just accept my “medium coffee” order.
Instead, they shout at me: “Grande? Grande? GRANDE?” I start to feel pressured, and I nod, willing to accept any caffeine-based liquid they make for me. Once I acknowledge it is indeed their word for “the middle cup size” that I would like, it turns out there are a few coffees I get to choose from, none of which I have ever heard of. “Pike Place Roast”? “Veranda Blend”? “Specialty Dark Italian”? Is there just plain old coffee?
I stare up at the menu in wonder. I want to pick anything, as long as I order it correctly. I’ll go with the medium—I mean, grande—caramel frappuccino. I double-check the menu to make sure there isn’t any tricky business.
The Starbucks girl takes my order and my answer of “No” when asked, “Do you want whipped cream with either chocolate or caramel drizzle?”
And then they take my credit card, and they put in the machine, and my mouth forms an O shape as I look down at the total.
Over five dollars? Five dollars for a stupid caramel slushy? I look up at the menu and realize I fully skipped over the prices. How could I have been so stupid? An unemployed full-time student spending five dollars on a—look at that cup! It’s so small, damn it!
But it’s too late now. I enter my pin code and wait in lineup number two.
I frown. I fold my arms. I look at the time. I’m skipping class to compensate for my bad mood. I trudge forward as my fellow students claim their drinks.
I would put up with the Starbucks lingo—which I don’t really mind—and the hefty prices, if only there was a shorter line. I think we need a larger Starbucks on campus. Perhaps two floors, with more tables, and just an overall better experience.
But until then, I go to Second Cup. They have a hazelnut coffee that I’m especially fond of. There is only one lineup, and it’s fairly short. It’s less expensive. The term “medium” applies there. There is no shouting over the counter.
Lastly, they treat me better.