A caffeinated discovery

Strictly speaking, I was done with my Texan retrospective well over a week ago, but there’s something I didn’t think to share on the blog that in real-life has proved to be quite a revelation to those I’ve mentioned it to – the wonders of Starbucks’ coffee for twelve people.

No, not twelve separate cups of coffee with complicated milk/shots/flavour combinations, a receptacle containing enough coffee for ten people. Voila:
As if buying morning coffee from a drive-thru Starbucks wasn’t enough excitement, I then got to travel with this (hot) beauty on my (bare) legs! It’s basically like a wine box, with a tap on the front and a handy holder for your cups, stirrers, napkins and milk on the side. Simply genius! 
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve told several people of this product’s existence and without fail, none have comprehended what I’ve been talking about until I’ve shown them the above photo, so read and believe! 
In the words of the Starbucks’ website: ‘This is our way of lending an extra hand to all those kind souls who purchase coffee on behalf of family, friends and workmates.’ In our case, it was literally a lifesaver – I don’t know if you’ve met any of the friends I choose to travel with, but without morning coffee (in large, fast-flowing quantities) they are not pleasant. 
Now Starbucks, if you could just get your head around selling tea in the US in the way you do in the UK, I would be much happier about spending longer in that country. [A coffee receptacle of any sort is no good to me – my morning injection of caffeine can only be done via tea. In Texas, I had to make do with the iced variety.] 

What’s in a name?

Something short and sweet (and previously featured) for today…

You may be aware that Starbucks recently introduced the concept of writing their customers names on their beverages to the UK (despite them doing it long ago in the US). In typical British style, we have been amused, bemused and cynical. People have created coffee pseudonyms; they’ve been encouraged by Radio 4 comedians to use ridiculous names; and generally, we’ve been confused as to why they should need our names in the first place. Sometimes it can be down right hilarious – have you heard the one about the guy who said his name was Voldemort and received a cup labelled ‘He who shall not be named’? Sometimes, it’s downright awkward – my friend Stew’s coffee arrived bearing the moniker ‘Jew’. Hmmm.

Cathryn has decided to give up & become ‘Kate’ at Starbucks.

Today, my Norwegian flatmate Øystein [major achievement in September: learning the Mac shortcut for that interesting little figure] ordered a coffee, gave his name, and discovered he was in fact a genius:

And you’ll notice that that’s not even how you spell Einstein… 

Fabulously, as he left the shop the barista shouted after him “see you Albert!”. Give credit to those comic Starbucks workers… 

It reminded me of a Friday Fun item from last year, which presumably has had a spike in submissions from Britain in recent months – Starbucks Spelling is a Tumblr of images customers have taken of spelling/listening/interpreting fails. Brilliant. Some are plain ridiculous, how can Tommy become ‘Duck’? Others simply illustrate the honesty of a barista who asked the customers name and promptly forgot it (which, quite frankly, is something I’d do in their position).

(It was Claire.) 

Just in case Starbucks feel I’m doing them a disservice, here’s a friendly public service reminder that they’re currently offering half-price Frappuccinos between 3 and 5pm until the 5th June. Make mine a Strawberries & Cream, thanks…

Dealing with disappointment

Generally, I’m a fairly positive person and deal with disappointment pragmatically (except if it involves men, then I become bitter, twisted and find myself unable to eat cake). Sure, I was peeved when my moving-to-California neighbour sold his piano to his builder, having previously promised it to me (for free), but I got over it and don’t even mention it when he complains (now that he’s back) that he’s got no piano to play. However, I do find, as with most people, that it’s the things that are most keenly looked forward to that can cause the most disappointment.

On Sunday, after a luxurious lie-in (verging on utterly slobby) I dragged myself out for a pre-church walk. The river was being battered by gale force winds and the walk from London Bridge to Charing Cross (via St Paul’s and Covent Garden) required a number of hat holding moments (in the very literal sense – I crossed Millennium Bridge with one hand firmly on my head). Such an invigorating exercise made me rather peckish, so as I approached Covent Garden I promised myself some Oreo Cakesters from CyberCandy. Disappointment number one was that the store had none (nor did it have – yet again – small packages of Peanut Butter M&Ms, but this is an ongoing disappointment that will only end if I give in and buy a large bag for £7). I stocked up on mini peanut butter cups, Twizzlers and cinnamon Pop Tarts, but was left without a squidgy sugary snack to boost my energy levels.

Starbucks was a logical next stop and en route I decided that I’d even push the boat out and allow myself a non low-fat muffin, specifically of an apple & cinnamon variety. Yum. [Have you noticed I’ve got a bit of a thing for cinammon? It’s without question my favourite spice – I never make porridge without it.] My mouth is actually beginning to water at the memory of it…

Negotiating the crowds in Trafalgar Square, I hurried into the tube and gratefully sat down for the first time in hours. Eagerly I opened my paper bag and took out the muffin. One glance and I nearly howled in disappointment. There, on my lap, was no apple & cinnamon goodness but instead, a lousy blueberry muffin. Wait, not even a normal one – a low-fat blueberry muffin. In their defence, Starbucks do excellent low-fat muffins, their peach & raspberry version being a personal favourite, but the blueberry one is massively disappointing.

In anger I threw the muffin back into its bag without even taking a bite and thrust it into my handbag. I was furious that I’d been denied my choice of treat by a barista who hadn’t listened to me properly and that I was now travelling at speed away from the shop, so could do nothing about it. Disappointment when combined with hunger and rage is never a good thing and somewhat irrationally I nearly burst into tears. Quite what I would have said if someone asked what was wrong – “the woman at Starbucks gave me the wrong muffin” would have sounded really quite pathetic. But honestly, I was on the edge and it would have been the kind of crying that lasts for a good long while.

A bit of muffin love…

Fortunately, on this occasion although the disappointment was bitter, it wasn’t long-lasting. By the time I arrived at church I was all smiles and on re-telling of my muffin woes, realised just how pathetic they sounded and tucked into a welcome brownie instead. (People give out baked goods at the church’s entrance – one of the many reasons why I love my church.) Thankfully, those I told were sympathetic so I even managed to feel less foolish – though on reflection I realise that in life there are much, much bigger disappointments one must deal with.

Writing this post has made me crave nice things, so do excuse me, I’m off to find a cup of tea and a chocolate HobNob…

Post Edit:
I got a rare anonymous comment on this post that I won’t publish, but will respond to in the body of the post – for the benefit of anyone else who feels the same. The comment read:

“Sounds like someone doesn’t realise just how fortunate they really are.”
If you’re a newcomer to my writing, most of it shouldn’t be taken too seriously – generally I just take the micky out of myself as a way of staying grounded and aware of what an idiot I can be. The point of my post was to show that I was in such a mood on Sunday that I nearly cried when given the wrong cake – like a 6 year old – which is neither mature or reasonable. As I said above, I realise that life holds bigger disappointments and I wasn’t trying to brush those aside. In fact, if anything, when I was shouting “it’s not fair!!” inside my head it wasn’t so much about the muffin, but probably residual disappointment at something much, much bigger, which can lead me into a tendency to make mountains out of molehills. 
Finally, if you’re reading this post for the first time now, it means you also missed out on my spectacular mis-spelling of HobNob. All I’ll say is that there was an erroneous ‘k’, but I’ll leave you to work out where it went…