January 12, 2016

Article at couriernews.ca

Confessions of a Coffee Curmudgeon (in which your world-weary reporter plays the rube while matching wits with a 17-year-old uber-sophisticate).

Jeff Gaye

While in the big city, I stopped at a popular coffee shop chain and ordered a large black coffee.

“Large – do you mean venti?” asked the lad behind the counter.

“Is that the large one?”

“Yes,” he said. I smiled patiently, waiting as he figured it out. Three… two… he got it. Then:


“No, I’m Canadian. But I’m from out of town.” 

“No, Caffe Americano – it’s coffee with a shot of espresso in it.” 

“Just a large black coffee, please,” I said pleasantly. But the questions kept coming.

“Mild or bold?” 

“Surprise me.”

“And what’s your name?” This time I hesitated, wondering if he was planning to report me or something. But he explained it’s so the barista can call me when she’s finished “creating” my cup of joe.

“My name is Large Black Coffee,” I replied, still exuding patience and good humour. I paid for my coffee, then shuffled along and waited while the other customers received their orders in turn.

I’m not defiant by nature, but I’m a bit resistant to corporate pretentiousness. The sizes on offer were venti, Italian for “twenty,” which somehow means “large”; grande, Italian for “large,” which means “medium”; and tall, English for “tall,” which naturally means “small.” And the guy wanted to make me say it.

Fun game I guess, but I didn’t feel like playing.  

The barista announced each order as it was ready. “Ashley, Skinny Peppermint Mocha! Carl, Iced Caramel Macchiato! Rick, Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino!” Then she got to mine.

“Large black coffee!”

I smiled smugly and thanked her as I picked it up. It was good coffee, too.