New Yorkers As Seen In a Cup of Coffee

If you wish to understand what makes a New Yorker tick, just visit one of the coffee chains, with Starbucks on the top of the list (I wrote both about Starbucks and about coffee itself here at Just Like NY; everyone who knows me knows that I never move around Manhattan without a cup in my hand). All you need to do is sit there for an hour,  watch people and eavesdrop on their orders (if there’s no Starbucks around, you may go to my favorite Brooklyn Roasting Company, Joe’s or Coffee Bean). It’s there where you will meet a full-fledged New Yorker, namely a person going out of her or his way to come up with a coffee-like beverage to fit their personality. I refer to “coffee-like beverage” for a reason: let’s face it, very few people come to those places simply to have a cup of coffee. “Do you have almond milk? How can it be that you don’t have almond milk…!?” Well, maybe because only yesterday it was soy milk that was all the rage…? Now, instead of soy, it’s almonds. “Do you have stevia?”; „Just make sure you use skim milk, it’s important. Can you put some whipped cream on top?”.

I once read an article on how the coffee you order testifies to who you are as a person. According to the piece I am mere “a person of no qualities” since I always order the same – freshly brewed coffee with room for milk, after which I pour in some cream (not milk, but real cream!). Supposedly, drinking espresso testifies to having a refined taste. I like espresso (a step towards having “refined taste”, I guess), but still, I prefer a regular cup of coffee, which I can savor for at least an hour.

Following this train of thought: what New Yorkers order testifies to the general confusion that reigns supreme here (I honestly pity and respect Starbucks employees, who actually decipher all those formulas thrown at them by clients and even can turn them into beverages). I would go as far as saying that all this testifies to some kind of collective personality crisis. How can you pack so many demands into a simple cup of coffee? That’s what New Yorkers are like: they want to cumulate all their desires in one place and then have them fulfilled, preferably immediately. The same goes for their lives, their apartments, and their partners. Everything in this life is supposed to be sprinkled with cinnamon and a dash of stevia, a drop of the right milk and served at the right temperature. But guess what…? That works only in Starbucks. Real life is a bit more complicated and does not respond to our wishes by handing a warm cup of coffee with our name written on it. Starbucks offers its clients the illusion of control over reality and suggests every wish can be fulfilled – and fast. Maybe that’s why, every time I go there, I end up standing in a long, long line…