Grande Coffee Good, Medium Coffee Baaaaad

Published: August 20th 2010
in News » World

A Starbucks barista
Pic: wikimedia commons

An English Professor by the name of Lynne Rosenthal has denounced Starbucks and denied falling prey to what she called “linguistic fascism.” She has also vowed to never patronize Starbucks again.


The middle-aged professor was kicked out of Starbucks at West 86th Street in New York after refusing to indicate whether she would like butter or cheese with her multi-grain bagel, the New York Post reported Monday. When Rosenthal tried to order a “plain” multi-grain bagel, she believed that saying “plain” would suffice and refused to say “without butter or cheese.”


Rosenthal told reporters that Starbucks’ use of language is a control device to “create a different reality,” calling it “Orwellian,” a reference to author George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 which depicts how a government manipulates language as a method to control its people.


“It’s all about control,” Rosenthal said. "They're trying to control the language and in that way create a different reality. Unless you obey that language, they lose control."


Common complaints about Starbucks’ insistence on its customers using the terms “tall” and “grande” as opposed to small or large have been noted in the past. Customer Gary Pretsfelder was quoted on explaining this confusion. He said he refuses to use Starbucks language “on principle” asking for a medium tea instead of a “grande.”


However, Rosenthal believed that her refusal to say “without butter or cheese” was a refusal to conform to Starbucks’ control.


Rosenthal was later kicked out of Starbucks for causing a ruckus. Starbucks representatives have so far not returned any phone calls or emails inquiring about the incident.


Rosenthal, on the other hand, has been swamped with emails and phone calls from reporters and was even asked to appear on TV, though she denied the request. She reportedly explained that she did not wish to be a “language crusader” but simply just wanted her bagel.


“I’m no leader,” Rosenthal said.


Another customer by the name of Rick Angelastro, 52, responded to the incident by explaining his disapproval of how Starbucks baristas ask if he would like cream or sugar with his coffee when he asks for black. Angelastro believes that Starbucks uses this seemingly unnecessary questioning as a ploy for customers to spend more money.


Rosenthal has stood by her theory that Starbucks only separates itself from mom and pop coffeehouses through their exclusive language.


"Without the language, Starbucks would be nothing," Rosenthal said. "Even Dunkin' Donuts has frappuccinos, or whatever they're called there."

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