Posted by: Calmseas (Mike) | March 30, 2010

Strong Drink

I stepped into a Starbucks this afternoon and placed my order for a “fat-free latté grande.”  By the look I received, I thought for a moment I had landed on the moon by mistake.  I normally order my favorite Starbucks’ drink by asking for a “skinny latté,” which, of course, implies that the barista is to make the beverage with fat-free milk.  Usually, the communication is clear, even though the order-taker will often repeat my drink order back to me with the words rearranged, and always in the form of a question: “Grande fat-free latté?”; “Fat-free latté grande?”—you get the idea.  I will then usually nod in affirmation or say something short like, “That’s right,” or just simply, “Yes.”

Today, however, upon placing my order for a “fat-free latté grande,” I received a blank stare, as if this were the first time in the history of hot brew blending that something like this had ever been ordered.  After an uncomfortable moment—more so for him than for me—he blurted out, “Non-fat latté grande?”  There again was the ever-present confirmation question.  I obligingly uttered my simple statement, “Yes,” and then quickly followed with this: “Two ways of saying the same thing, I suppose.”  I received in return a half-understanding reply, “Yea, I guess,” or something along those lines.

The last I checked “fat-free” and “non-fat” mean exactly the same thing: “There is no blasted fat in the thing!”  However, for some unexplained—but nonetheless irritable—reason, coffee house order-takers have an uncontrollable, unquenchable craving to set the poor-slob customer straight on matters where the order-taker is the undisputed resident expert, namely the nomenclature regarding your choice of customized, over-priced hot beverage.

How many different ways can you ask for this drink besides “fat-free latté grande,” “skinny latté grande,” and “non-fat latté grande”?  I can think of a few more.  But maybe it would be best to just reference the drink as an “espresso with frothed, no-fat hot milk.”  Or better yet, “Give me some of that there really strong coffee with some of that whipped-up skim milk!”  But then I really would be on the moon!



  1. LMAO! I seriously never noticed it before, but you’re right! I generally order the same beverage and always get that look. Except @ McDonald’s where they seem surprised that you really want a latte at all. Then the fact that you want to skip the extra calories AND the extra flavorings is completely beyond comprehension. I have to be very specific–“NO FLAVOR!”

    And for some reason, a large, low-fat, NO FLAVOR ice latte @ McDonald’s comes out a vanilla, hot latte every time. :/

    I know. I know. I guess that’s what I get for trying to save 25 cents and 10 minutes for a cup of coffee. Heh.

  2. Baristas are all Democrats, no doubt. 🙂

    (Robin, this comment makes no sense here with some context.)

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