By Bethania Viana
Fall is here, whip out your “white girls and Starbucks pumpkin spice latte” jokes! We all make fun of this trend as if we haven’t gotten one ourselves or taken a sip of someone else’s.
Coffee culture is hardly a new phenomenon. Food and drink has always been a huge component of any culture for socializing. It wouldn’t be right to say that coffee is just now becoming a “thing,” but there is a noted increase of the pretentiousness around it these days. After all, did you really go to a fancy coffee shop if you didn’t Instagram your latte art, placed ever so delicately next to an open Moleskine journal or non-fiction book? Don’t we have a particular idea of who we would see working at a coffee shop, the kind of people that we would find sitting in one for hours?
There’s a certain air around coffee shops nowadays. A lot of it has to do with good marketing on behalf of coffee shop businesses. Shops with exposed brick walls, chalkboard signs and Bon Iver perpetually playing in the background are doing their best to make their customers feel as if they have walked into an indie daydream. Playing up that artistic, hipster aesthetic certainly does appeal to a certain kind of customer, but it also plays up a kind of ridiculous narrative about coffee. The narrative has to do with the “coolness” of coffee, a narrative that adds an air of pretentiousness to the way in which you chose to get your caffeine fix. These used to be characteristics exclusive to smaller, independent shops, but now more and more chains are mimicking them.
Here’s the thing about coffee: it’s just coffee. Don’t overthink it. These super artsy shops seem to create a totally unnecessary standard regarding what you order. Speaking as a barista, I know that there is good and bad coffee in terms of quality of taste. Dunkin Donuts, for example – that’s bad coffee. Trust me. That has to do with bean quality, roasting, etc. But that’s not what I mean about pretentiousness around coffee. When talking about pretentiousness, it’s more a complaint on the ruffles and frills on something that once was and should continue to be simple.
Speaking as a barista, I can tell you with the utmost certainty that no one is judging for the beverage you chose. Or rather, no one should, because an individual’s coffee order gives little to indication to personality. The dude clearly dressed head to toe in Urban Outfitters ordering a double espresso shot? No more artsy than the elderly Italian man after him ordering the same thing. There should be no judgment for the customer ordering a latte laden with flavored syrups and whipped cream.
Caffeine doesn’t need to be overhyped to pertain to a certain personality type. If you’re willing to shell out five bucks for just a drink, treat yourself to what your taste buds desire, not what you feel your environment is pressuring you to get.
Bethania is a senior Women’s and Gender Studies Major and Biology Minor