The Commish Online                                                                                
Drinking in the Regularity
April 24, 2006

Well, I resisted it for some time, but now it’s official: I am a Starbucks regular.  This morning, for the first time, before I could shout out my order, the barista behind the counter recognized me and asked, “venti regular?”  For those of you not familiar with the Starbucks jargon, venti translates to large, grande to medium, and tall to small.  Tall to small?  I’ll leave the jokes about the absurdity of the Starbucks menu to 2nd rate stand-up comedians and simply tell you that you CAN order an even smaller cup called a “short,” not listed on the menu.  It’s a little smaller, a little cheaper, and still packs more caffeine than any individual needs in a week.

Back to my newfound status.  I go to Starbucks because I like coffee, so I order coffee.  Large, black coffee.  My order is simple, to the point, and does not require memorization (except to remind myself that “venti” means “large”).  Never from my mouth will you hear “venti half caff soy mocha latte froo froo fancy pants long name for a drink no whip please.”  For those people who enjoy drinking dessert for breakfast, I’m not judging – I’m just wondering why.

Anyway, I only go to Starbucks about 2 or 3 times per week, just enough to not feel like an outsider but not quite enough to hang with the cool kids.  Until now.  I walked in, thinking to myself that I would go the grande route for a change, perhaps feeling guilty about the levels of my caffeine ingestion as of late.  No sooner did I take a second step into the java-filled room did I hear my order said TO me, not BY me.  Sure, the barista suggested “venti,” but when you become a REGULAR, you don’t go making changes on the fly.  It cost me about 12 cents more than what I intended to order, but that’s a small price to pay for inclusion.

Feeling warm and fuzzy inside, I thought to myself how much extra money Starbucks brings in just through familiarity.  Sure, I only spent 12 extra cents, but think of all the chai tea eccentrics who blindly agree to the same drink order day after day even though they just came in for a bottle of water and a $5 tin of mints.  People love to be recognized, even if it means an extra latte now and then.

Becoming a regular shouldn’t affect me as much as it does.  I’m not a coffee snob – I like Dunkin’ Donuts, White Hen makes a good cup of joe, I’ll stop at McDonald’s for a hot brew, and even 7-11 is passable when the need strikes.  On top of that, coffee made at home drinks as well as the rest because I can make it to my own specifications.

So why the feeling of such self-importance just because someone can remember my two-word order?  It must be the sense of belonging.  That’s right, I finally belong to a group of jittery, high strung caffeine addicts who can’t function without their daily dose of piping hot joe.  And I wouldn’t want it any other way.