The Language of Coffee

Posted by on Mar 13, 2012 | No Comments

greek-coffee-mugIt may be hard to believe, but there was a day in the not too distant past when coffee came only in black, or with cream or sugar. Several years before an upstart coffee company from Seattle planted their first outpost in New York City, Laurie and I were living in New Jersey—a land without lattes.

During that time two guys from Seattle opened up a Starbucks style coffee shop in the pedestrian concourse underneath several major office buildings in Newark. In the beginning the pair spent most of their time educating the unwashed New Jerseyans on the variety of Italian style drinks that they were trying to peddle.

Imagine the cast of The Jersey Shore posing questions like, “What’s a lay-tay?” or “What the heck is a calf-fay a-mare-e-cane-oh?” and you get the picture. After the two Seattle ex-pats explained the drink options the response was often, “Coffee, black.”

One of our friends back there  was a fellow Seattleite serving her corporate sentence in Newark. But she had the privilege of going home frequently enough that she had developed a taste for the drinks served up by Starbucks and knew the lingo, cold. Several weeks after the guys from Seattle  opened their store in the Newark concourse she happened upon the establishment.

She walked up to the counter and said without hesitation, “I’ll take a double tall skinny.”

The guy raised his eyebrow and said, “You’re not from around here, are you?”

I guess he was just surprised to meet someone who spoke his language.

The Greek motif coffee cup in this post is commonly used in the New York city area. According to one website the cup was introduced in 1963 and over 180 million have been served. If you watch movies or TV shows based in New York City, don’t be surprised to see them, although Starbucks cups give them fierce competition nowadays.

Related Post: Predictably Bad

For a satiric look at ordering coffee catch this clip from LA Story