Friday, June 29, 2007

Coffee (to go with the waffles)

This story has Kasamba written all over it. I think this story was supposed to have happened to Kasamba, but there must have been a mix up and I witnessed it myself. Go figure.

So I had to visit a client in New York City this week and took the LIRR (the train) into the city in the morning. As I was walking to the office, I decided to stop at a Starbucks on the way to grab an iced coffee. This particular Starbucks is on the corner of Broadway and 52nd Street (I had to clarify that considering there is a Starbucks on almost every corner of NYC).

For those who don't frequent a Starbucks -- especially a rather large one such as this on in NYC -- let me describe the scene:

There are about 12 tables with people hunched over laptops, reading novels, staring out the windows, talking (loudly) on cell phones, and peering at NYC street maps (aka tourists). The place is noisy. There are an average of 20-25 people in a line waiting to place their order.

Behind the counter is an extremely efficient group of college-goers (attempting to make money to pay for their high tuition and NYC apartments) who work in tandem like a well-oiled machine. Each employee behind the counter wears a headset so they can communicate with each other. They have codewords that they yell out to each other as they take orders from the ever-growing line.

"DOUBLE LAT SKIM!" "GRANDE NO WHIP MOCHA!" Like an elite unit of Navy Seals, orders are barked, cups are marked and passed to each other, machines are humming, milk is frothing, ice is chinking -- it's a sight to be seen.

To be even more efficient, one of the guys behind the counter takes orders from the line so that by the time you get to the register to pay, you order has already been placed. By the time you finish handing over your week's salary for a solitary cup of Joe, someone at the end of the assembly line is shouting out that your beverage is ready for pickup.

The guy taking the orders ask me for my order and I place it. After barking the order into his headset mic, he looks at the guy standing behind me and says "good morning, what would you like?" The man looks a bit lost with everything going on around him. The guy with the headset leans forward, waiting for the order and then it comes...

"Um, I'll... I'll have a coffee"

As those words leave his mouth, the entire store comes to a screeching halt. Silence. The guy with the headset has this look on his face that can't really be described. You can tell that he WANTS to say something like "Hey everyone! This guy want's a COFFEE!" Instead, he is speechless.

I myself wanted to turn to the guy and say "Dude, of COURSE you want a coffee -- that's why you walked into this place in the first place, no?"

Meanwhile, the entire store is watching to see what will transpire next.

Finally, the guy with the headset finds his voice. "Um, what KIND of coffee would you like?" The guy responds that he'd just like a coffee -- a plain one. "OK" the guy in he headset replies. Now he starts to talk slowly, using his hands alot "and what SIZE would you like for your plain coffee?" After a slight pause, the man responds that he'd like a "medium". The headset dude sighs, barks some code into his headset (probably instructing the man behind the Barista machine to spit into the cup) and just as quickly, the hustle and bustle returns throughout the store and all is back to normal.

Someone like Google should really create a translation module for converting regular English into Starbucks ordering lingo, just to help tourists get an expensive cup of coffee in NY...

Wherever I order my coffee, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

9 comments:

The back of the hill said...

Mmmmmmmm, waffles....

Chana said...

Dead silence? Really? That's excellent.

I like your description of Starbucks; well-oiled machine is the word.

Ezzie said...

LOL

Oy. I'm not sure which side I want to laugh at more.

balabusta in blue jeans said...

I wonder if this is a New York thing. I walk into Starbucks in San Francisco and Oakland all the time and say "I'd like a small cup of coffee, please," and they just translate for themselves and give me one.

~ Sarah ~ said...

lol
NY starbucks is like no other.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

You've been tagged.

David Linn said...

I have a friend who enjoys taunting the Starbucks' barristas. Either he'll pretend to not know how to order a' la your post or he will make up some kind of order that stumps the barrista. My favorie order of his is:

A tall half decaf, half regular coffe but please make sure the decaf is on top.

tnspr569 said...

Hmm...the barristas in the Starbucks stores near me all seem pretty friendly. There's nothing intimidating about the stores at all. They're not always so busy, but I guess it depends on the time of day. During the school year, students can be found studying in various Starbucks stores (it's actually a great place to study for some people; I found it to be much more conducive to studying than other environments).

It is funny when someone tries to place an order and they're completely clueless about Starbucks.

elchonon said...

I cant order coffee... I dont know any names.. I am world famous for my coffee which I brew at home and rarely buy in stores...

At any given time I have about 10 - 20 different bags of cofee beans.. I grind it right before brewing...

And YES its just simple coffee... but here I can choose between yukon, kenya, summatra, tanzania and another 50 blends!

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