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Me, You, and The Truth About Starbucks
Tom Donoghue

I’m defined by what I drink. There is no point in denying it.

It hits me like a runaway train. No matter how many times I do it, I am still taken aback by the naked truth that lays exposed before my eyes. There is no point in denying it.
I’m defined by what I drink.
I’m a Tall Skim Latte, one Sweet N Low. I loathe who I’ve become when I drink coffee. In my own mind, I’ve officially become a status conscious coffee kook.
I have long made fun of Starbucks, even while duplicitously imbibing my fair share of weekend lattes. I don’t hide my love of coffee, but I never thought it important to use coffee as a social placeholder. Like most of America, I drink it for the caffeine first, and the taste second. For me, decaf is something you have after 10:00 PM. Never earlier. Sumatra is just a coffee-growing place on a map, at least in the world according to Starbucks.

Sumatra Suburbia
So yesterday afternoon, as I sat two Land Rovers and a Saab convertible back in the drive-through at one of my four local Starbucks, I realized that, at least in my piece of suburbia, the status of what one drinks is now on par with other class defining criteria, like cars, houses, and other outwardly visible accoutrements. Sitting in the drive-through line, I realized how fully I had succumbed. In a panic, I turned to my wife.
"Do you realize that this is our second trip through today? Starbucks is into us for almost $20.00!"
"Move up," she said as the caffeine starved owner of the Saab accelerated towards the pick up window. Whether my wife even heard me or not, I don’t know. She was fidgety, anxious, distracted, and I decided for safety’s sake not to pursue the conversation.

How did this happen? Seemingly overnight, we went from Maxwell House make it at home coffee drinkers, to double skim mochaccino with two Sweet N Low’s for $4.23 suckers. Men, women, kids. We were all targets. And we all succumbed.
So- the question is: Are we really addicted to the coffee, or do we just like what we think the cup says about us?
The truth about Starbucks is this: it speaks volumes that, as a country, we allow ourselves to label others, and be labeled, by the cardboard coffee cup we drink from. We are unable to avoid consumptive and addictive behavior, and as a result we are unable to avoid walking past any one of the 211 Starbucks located in Chicago. We have accepted, and nurtured, our newest health risk. By comparison, McDonald’s never looked so good.

And when did coffee become such a symbol of status? Is it fair to say that Starbucks has done nothing more than cater to our previously pent up desire to wait in line for custom coffee? Sure. I mean, it’s not Starbucks’ fault we’re status conscious, weak willed, excessive compulsive addictives, is it? They didn’t create the monster; they simply continue to feed it.

With drive-thru windows, menus with drinks so bizarre they have to be fake, and endless grams of drinkable fat, it’s only a matter of time before our doctor steps in to save us from ourselves.
If we could only get him to move up in the drive-through line first.
© Tom Donoghue

About The Author
Tom Donoghue is a tall skim latte drinking, SUV driving sales rep living in suburban Chicago. He can be reached at and welcomes your thoughts.

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