Do you Speak Starbucks or are you Committing a Caffeinated Crime | CSI Starbucks

The gore is almost too extreme to look at. BTW this was full before the incident!

When you walk into a Starbucks it’s a little like entering another country.  Some of the language is “Italianish” and the rest is completely fabricated, yet universally understood by all it’s regular patrons.

Like any new country, when you visit Starbucks for the first time you might be overwhelmed by the cultural gap and the obvious language barrier.

You see, Starbucks drinkers have an acute understanding of this made up ordering system, the terminology, how to conjugate the verbs, and the proper phrasing of the request i.e. size first, then special requirements, then drink type.

The baristas, or should I call them caffeination interpreters, are trained to do far more than make a cappuccino.  My barista knows the make, model, and color of my car.  When he sees it drive up, he starts my drink.  He deduces that if I’m wearing golf or workout clothes I will require my usual to be iced  has the appropriate drink ready by the time I hit the door.

He is keenly aware of my standard approach speed and if I seem to be ambling he’ll throw in an extra shot.

But sometimes, even I, a citizen with a green card – or should I say gold card – am shocked by how intricate requests can get.  I think some of these drinkers actually believe they’ve learned another language and take an odd pride in this false sense of intelligence.

Today the woman in front of me ordered a tall 2 splenda – extra dry – machiatto – with extra foam – on the fly.

Extra dry? Really? “What is extra dry… just beans?  Or does the dryness have something to do with the foam?”

Caffeination interpreter:  “No the consistency of the foam is directly correlated to the frothiness.”

Why do I feel like I’m having a conversation with NASA?

And yet, who am I to talk? I know that a standard latte is made at 160°, which would be bad enough, except that I also know that I prefer mine at 140°.

My barista, who writes Jenny from the blog on every cup, actually figured this out while analyzing my drinking habits.

Caffeination interpreter:  “I’ve noticed you seem to wait about 8 minutes for your coffee to cool. I think the problem is an over sensitive pallet and I suggest you drop the temp about 20 degrees fahrenheit.”

“Shit, I think in Celcius.  I like to pretend I’m European… like Madonna and Gwennie P.

Caffeination interpreter: “There’s no reason to get smart with me.  I’m hypothesizing about your needs, I’ll investigate further.”

Soon coffee analyzation and Starbucks interpretation will be something you can major in, like criminal justice.  At the very least Bravo will make it into a show, “CSI Starbucks.”

There is nothing to see here.

“Everyone step away from the mocha, CSI Starbucks unit (Coffee Scene Investigation) is here.”

“There is nothing to see here, please disperse.”

“What’s seems to be the problem, ma’am?”

Disgruntled Customer:  “My mocha is not rich enough, and it’s too wet. I specifically said grande, 18 pump, extra fat, mildly damp, 157° Mochachokeonitccino with extra whip that is dolloped in the shape of a pygmy monkey.”

The area around the cup is taped off and a bit is spilled into a petri dish and run out of the store to a mobile CSI van.

The maverick of the team fearlessly swipes his finger through the java then smells and licks it, as if it’s cocaine. “One more lick for good measure and an extra jolt,” he says as he rubs some across his gums.

“Well your first problem is this is only 16 pumps. It’s also a mere 142°, which if my calculations are correct mean 7 minutes ago when it was made it was 155° and not a degree more. Your other problem was in the call. The cashier/Mayor should know not to call a whip sculpted in the shape of anything other than the Starbuck’s mermaid goddess on our logo, who we in the biz affectionately call Flo.”

Disgruntled Customer: “Like flow of the coffee or the ocean?”

“Ma’am, I’m not at liberty to discuss Flo with civilians.  Let’s just leave it at that.”

“Look, we’re gonna take this downtown to the Captain, but just for the record Cappy Joe, or Cuppa Joe as we like to call him, is the best. He’ll have this coffee and a full report back to you by day’s end. Please enjoy a maximum of 2 hours free internet access in the mean time.”

“And don’t forget to try one of our new hot breakfast sandwiches.”

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51 thoughts on “Do you Speak Starbucks or are you Committing a Caffeinated Crime | CSI Starbucks

  1. Cherie

    Well, you have it down pat. When I pull up to the drive through, I can tell by the voice on the other end if my Latte is going to be made as ordered or not. I should know that if the wrong person is the drive through cashier, I should get out of line and go inside. My favorite Barista knows exactly how to make my latte and thinks my order is perfect. (I learned from the best, my daughter, Jenny).

  2. Debbie

    I don’t like starbucks, maybe I wasn’t ordering correctly..I asked for a cup of coffee! I’m going to try the Jenny special,extra dry!!lol

  3. Alison

    Jenny—as per usual…hysterical! I just read the last three blogs, as I have been a bit overwhelmed with work, and I can’t stop laughing! Love you girl, and I feel like I am back at UM every time I read your stories. I can actually hear your voice reading to me as though there is a voice over running through my head—uh-oh maybe this is the start of some rare terminal brain tumor, or maybe I have finally gone over the edge of sanity with no hope of ever returning. Well either way I love it!

  4. Bari

    My husband is a cofee afficionado. He has his Starbucks fix twice daily. He was so hooked on the stuff he actually had two heart procedures just to correct his caffine jitters. He likes to go into any local Starbucks and order some weird concoction like 2 pumps mocha (sir that’s a mocciato). “No it’s not. I want 2 pumps, 3 splemda , light ice and filler up all the way”. No matter how it;s made, he’ll correct them. “Too much ice, too little ice, not enough caffine” etc. Then just when they get his order perfect he likes to change it up just for fun!

  5. Lily

    Since I gave up coffee a couple of years ago it took me that long to figure out what I could have that would satisfy my need for a Starbucks fix. After asking questions of the barrista every time much to the dismay of the crazy cracked out coffee freaks in line behind me…I finally came up with my new order a soy chai tea misto!!!! It even throws the barista sometimes if I am in a satellite Starbucks like in the bookstore, target or the airport. I do have to get the temp thing down though. I usually ask for a 1/2 scoop of ice in it but now I am going to investigate and find my perfect temp. Funny funny blog Jenny. Thanks…L Btw,,,the language is

  6. Insanitykim

    I would SO love this post if I didn’t think that Starb**** was from the pit of h e double hockey sticks…yeah, I said that. that way. I did.

    Well, scratch that. I love their green tea frapps.

  7. Momma Sue

    Starbucks’ willingness to create these concoctions definitely makes my life hell some days. Enough indulgence already! As a cafe owner, I would prefer to serve joe. Plain and simple. Of course since we serve mommies, we must serve lattes, and capps and now chai tea etc… I barely have room anymore with all the sugary junk I have to have on hand to please the masses. I have to admit, when I get a newbie who tries to give me a “starbuckian” style order I give em the raised eyebrow look of disdain that says “Don’t even try that here. You’ll get a hot latte that is ready when my warm hand says its ready.” It seems to work. They take their coffee like a (wo)man, OR they ask me to google the nearest Starbucks for them, and could I please print that out, and call them a cab, and help them carry out their laptop.

    I take drip, 2 sugars, cream

  8. Amber @ Classic Housewife

    Oh, this is hilarious! I’m going to link to this from my new coffee blog ( I don’t have a Starbucks in my town, but I’m not opposed to anything with “mocha” in the title, that’s for sure! Other than that, when I do make it to the next town over, I have to stand in front of the menu a while trying to figure out exactly which coffee I want to order and try. I’m too indecisive. Love me some coffee.

  9. Rich

    As an aside: That should be “its own country,” not “it’s own country.”
    “It’s” = “it is.” “Its” is the possessive pronoun.

  10. myerman

    I have this theory, see, that correlates how high-maintenance you are to the number of things you add on to your order. Using this theory, I can pretty much tell that the person who orders a Venti Soy Latte Cappuccino with 3 shots of Expresso is way more trouble than someone like me, who just orders Venti Coffee of the Day leave room for milk. And actually, I almost never say “leave room for milk” because they forget to do it anyway, so I just dump an inch or two when I get over to the coffee station.

    And before you ask, yes, my scale is logarithmic, just like the richter scale, so every additional option makes you 10x more high maintenance.

    Of course, that being said, my wife is high maintenance, and that’s what I love about her. 🙂

  11. Tiffany

    I saw a link to this blog from the Linked In Editors and Writers group. This was hilarious! Can’t wait for CSI Starbucks to debut on USA Network…since they’re character approved and all. 😀

  12. Christie-A Work In Progress

    This was classic! Love it! I am a citizen of Starbucks and I would love for you to join us permanently! Don’t worry, we are friendly and will help you along…at least I would anyway…can’t speak for all of us, right. As a fellow writer, I must say, LOVE your writing! This was a great post glad you shared it on LinkedIn…or I may not have found it! Hope to see you around the blogopsphere!

  13. JEBrown

    So, I found your site today – and I think I’m in love. I’ve read like 12 of your posts. You and I have a similar writing voice….except I think you’re actually funnier than I am. And I oscilate between funny and serious.

    Either way – I’m in love. Too bad you’re married.

    (…that was a joke. I’m straight. But maybe you’re blog and my blog could be in love. I’m ok with that.)

  14. Paris

    I am a certified* Starbucks translator with 6 years of experience. I have taken numerous workshops and attended many classes following graduation from the University of Java. I am willing to travel and would consider relocation. References available upon request.

    *certified or certifiable, I get those confused.

  15. Rich

    The baristas at the Starbucks I regularly visit know I’m pretty habitual, and they often have my drink ready by the time I hit the counter.

    One thing interests me is the interaction with baristas outside the shop, like when I run into them on the street. Some will say hello and even engage in conversation, while others will work hard to avoid all eye contact.

    I don’t blame the latter group at all. If I worked with customers, I’m not sure I’d want to feel obligated to be friendly outside of the workplace. I do find it entertaining, though, when I see one of them do that pretty obvious head turn to avoid me.


  16. Laurie

    A black coffee drinker since my early teens, I quickly got on the Starbucks cool-music-in-the background bandwagon when it came to NYC in the late 90’s. It was a great library-come-coffee shop alternative to the dubious dishwater-in-the-rarely-washed urn of the coffee shops, diner-dives and greasy spoons once ubiquitous in the city.

    I got my undergraduate degree in Starbucks and passed the bar in Starbucks. The manager of my then local store pressed me daily for a news flash on whether or not I had passed.

    “Tall bold, no room” I would ask.

    “Any news?” She would respond.

    When I relocated to Florida, I found my nearest Starbucks before I found the grocery. With the warm weather, my “tall bold” morphed into a grande unsweetened iced black iced coffee, no room.

    It was all great and friendly and tasty and nice, and just like home, only with a palm tree in the parking lot until I decided to take a part-time job there ( I never did practice law); until I read the ingredients in the frapuccino mix, until I was forced to sit through numerous coffee “tastings,” until I found myself standing around waving the aroma of a coffee into my nostrils, gurgling it around in mouth and writing down my impressions as if we were discussing a bottle of precious wine. It was all too silly, too pretentious and was totally killing my little corner of comfort with over familiarity.

    Although I must say, I loved my hat and apron, and was pained when I had to return it.

    But, it has never been the same.

  17. Rachael

    LOVE IT!!!!! I really got a kick out of the just beans? You know I frequent Starbucks every day at least once…and if i dare switch up my usual…they all look at me and say REALLY? i say yes…and they look at me as if i must not be feeling well. Please write more on this new country…I find all the ways people order their drinks fascinating!!!!

    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      Well just think of all the joy in coffee drinking you have to come. I’m a bit jealous. Oh to be young and naive! This is the way I feel when people tell me that they’ve just started reading Twilight or Harry Potter. I know, I just really uncooled myself huh?

  18. Desiree

    Love it! My sister told me how to order my carmel macchiato so that I can get the full effect of the coffee. Something along the lines of “upside down” needs to be added to the request so the coffee goes in first? I’m too scared that I’ll get reprimanded by the barista and then I’ll have to say “nevermind, Ill just stir it.” My fear of rejection thwarts my coffee ordering proficiency.

    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      Desiree- the fear stops here! I bet there are so many people like you unable to get across their order for fear of punishment through caffeination and I say NO MORE you order and order proudly, but get it right or you’ll totally embarrass yourself and you’ll surely be banned from reading this blog!

  19. Julie

    Guilty……….Venti 6 pump no water Chai……my boys (3 & 6) can even order it for me! Susie greets me by name through the speaker in the drive thru!

  20. alfred lives here

    Love love love this post! And as a Starbucks addict and aficionado, I can not only relate, but wowza am I an easygoing customer compared to some of you guys! Though I do like the lowfat pumpkin spice latte a whole lot…

  21. awesomesauciness

    And here I thought “Lady Marmalade” was a song about an illicit love affair between a woman and a man, when it was really about a woman’s love for her “mocha-choco latte” yaya! Learn something new every day.

  22. rachy

    there are the citizens of Starbucks Nation and there are NCDAs (non-coffee drinking Americans).

    we NCDAs are a minority group that are a little wealthier and have a little more free time, simply by never visiting their neighborhod barista or learning the Frantalian spoken within Starbuk Nation.

    i may be half-asleep until noon, but i remain a proud NCDA!!!

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  24. David Rosman

    Rosman Rule #20 – Friends don’t let friend drink Starbucks! Period. I will go to any diner, greasy-spoon, flop-joint or even my own kitchen and get better coffee. On the serious side – Starbucks over-cooks their coffee, making it a bit bitter forcing the drinker to ass fats and sugars to make the brew palatable. You like fancy coffees? Make your own.

    Frapachinos – It’s sweet ice coffee! Take a tall glass, fill it 3/4 with cold coffee. Add Half&Half. If you normally use two-teaspoons of sugar, use four. Add ice, stir, drink.

    Cappachinos – Buy a machine – I found GOOD new one starting at $60 – which is the equivalent of 15 Caffe Lattes – You can make one for well under $.60 each.

    Want flavoring? Lots to choose from at the grocery.

    Want an Irish Coffee? Can’t get it at Starbucks. Can make one at home.

    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      Ok, David – I agree the coffee is bitter and creates ass fat (though I think that was a fruedian slip on your part) but you know what, they make it for me and they take all my quirkie requests and pretend they enjoy following them. If only my husband could do the same. I would marry Starbucks if I could.

    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      Steph- I love to be your new fave though I don’t know how wishy washy you are. I hope I have some true staying power like Justin Bieber. He is my barometer for all things. So far most of my successes have simply come from asking myself, “What would the Biebster do?” So ask yourself, would he read this humor blog about parenting and sex or lack there of with the hubby? I hope that helped cement our relationship. I know it made a ton of sense to me.

  25. Debi

    How lucky you are to live near a Starbucks that can make your coffee how you order it! I used to live in a large city where every barista could do my order to perfection. Now, I fear for my taste buds whenever I pay the $5 for a crappy latte from the Starbucks in the town I live in.

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  27. Kyle Gruber

    LOVE this blog Jenny! I must agree that starbucks is it’s own world of coffee. I always think it’s a nightmare trying to get my caffinated, extra sugar coffee every morning before work.


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