Coffee please, white, with sugar


Bill Bryson once referred to this demand to overspecify whenever you want food.  Asked if he wanted latte or whatever else it was, he replied: “Just a coffee.”  I seriously detest the word “latte’ because it’s an Anglo-Saxon inverse attempt at style, which is styleless.

When I’m in Italy, I’ll ask for whatever the term is for the chocolate or coffee, in France I’ll ask in their language but I’m sure as hell not going to play this pseudo-exotic language game with some local lad or lass in my own country.  The only two exceptions will be espresso or cappuccino because those terms are now universal.

The Starbucks story is a case in point and one commenter added, below:

Far from being a ‘non-story’, it’s very much a story. Dang sure I don’t change my language to suit some commercial outfit when I have perfectly good words – woody words, at that – which have served their purpose admirably for years. To be ejected by the Police for refusal to decline cheese and butter is quite remarkable. It says a lot about how the Police are viewed these days too.

For those of you who adore corporate doublespeak, like to think inside the box, tick boxes and never push the envelope, herewith is rolled out just the widget for you.  Think of it as service delivery.

6 comments for “Coffee please, white, with sugar

  1. August 17, 2010 at 19:52

    Ahem. It’s called “coffee with milk” because “white” is racist.

    BTW, I’ve invented a new corporate-speak buzz phrase, namely “That’s not even on the map!”.

    I’m not sure what it means, but I manage to slip it into the conversation once a day and nobody seems to mind.

  2. MadPiper
    August 17, 2010 at 20:08

    My local Starbucks gives me a large when I order a large coffee, no hassle. I couldn’t care less about their naming conventions. My pet peeve is the fast food places that have drinks sized Medium, Large, and Extra Large. I always order a small and watch the confusion. 🙂

  3. August 17, 2010 at 21:38

    My mate Andy to this day refuses to order ‘fries’ esp. in Maccy D’s and always insists on ‘chips’

  4. dearieme
    August 17, 2010 at 23:04

    Different globe, Mark Wadsworth, different globe.

  5. August 18, 2010 at 15:21

    I only ever order “chips” in the UK. If they ask me whether I mean “fries” I nod and say “Yes, chips.”

    And Costa Coffee do a very nice “medium sized capuccino” (about half a pint). Their large cups have two handles, for crying out loud.

  6. August 18, 2010 at 22:58

    Starbucks actually has a “secret” short size.

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