Fig.1. (Video) Portlandia takes on Hipster Barristas.
“Le Stationment pour les baton et sur cette assiette” She said when I asked the she-hipster where the garbage was.
I just purchased a five dollar coffee, cappuccino to be fair. The she-hipster designed a nice flower on the milk-foam, and for that split second, I felt bad that my need to stir coffee would destroy such a foamy-fine work of art. It hadn’t hit me yet that I just spent five dollars on coffee. Five Dollars! I saw the prices, it was my own fault, but I didn’t become internally livid until I heard the she-hipster’s response to my question:
Me: “Excuse me, where’s your garbage” I asked, visibly holding a stir stick in the air.
She-Hipster: “The parking for the stir sticks is on this plate” She replied by motioning to the small plate next to the cash register. (The dialogue was translated from French)
It was at this very point that I became disgusted with myself. I fell prey to the allure of the trendy coffee shop. The type of place where décor is so minimal, a garbage pail would offend the clean, empty space.
People who make coffee in cosmopolitan cities with some trend are known as Baristas, an Italian term meaning ‘bartender’. In Italy, the term loosely refers to someone serving drinks behind a counter and not exclusively to those who only make coffee. But I don’t live in Italy; I live in a city with first world problems where everyone with something to say feels inclined to anoint themselves with pomposity. (This includes myself, otherwise, why would I be writing this.) Humility is becoming obsolete, sucked into a vortex of self-importance. Nervous-Narcissism fills the void left behind by insecurity, which is fuel by the doubt we incur when confronted with the fact that so many de-facto experts exist: Is my butcher a Master Butcher? If not I must be buying the wrong meat. Is the lady behind the cheese counter at Metro a certified Fromagologist? Does she have a cheese tattoo?
The inherent risk with a landscape comprised of too many experts is it leaves too many people comfortably dumb. In a world without enough real doctors, we make up honorary doctorate degrees of our own creation: If you pour wine you’re a sommelier. If you can cook food you’re a chef. If you can make coffee you’re a barista. And while I don’t want to take away from the experience, education and talent people have in their fields, the self-titled and their groupies need to occasionally remember that, it’s just wine! It’s only food! And it’s a fucken coffee!
Maybe it’s my own fault. Maybe I want my wine, food and coffee served and created by someone wielding a title and tattoo. If it makes me feel more important to have a five-dollar coffee made by someone significant enough to charge five dollars for a coffee than who am I to dispute such a phenomenon within a free-market society? The only caveat I would humbly request to all the third wave, trendy coffee houses is this: can you add to your thrift-store, chic menu, at the very bottom and in smaller font if you wish, a regular, drip coffee at two dollars, this way, if I still buy the five-dollar coffee, I’ve only myself to blame.