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A latte judgment over such a little thing

Published: Monday, February 6, 2012

Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08

Evol Starbucks graphic

Samantha Schroeder

Starbucks is one of the most beloved and loathed companies in America. The simple act of holding a cup with that iconic green siren immediately triggers an array of judgments. Pretentious, stylish, tasteful, wasteful and even conformist are some of the assumptions made about those who drink it.

Why? It's just coffee.

Our culture is so based on appearance and brand association that a 12 ounce cup of coffee can determine how others view your social class or persona. Some may buy Starbucks because they want to look like they've got money to burn. However, others claim Starbucks is "everything that's wrong with society," appalled when they see people wasting their money or contributing to consumerism by sipping on a grande cinnamon dolce latte.

A Rasmussen Report from last year shows that 49 percent of Americans who drink coffee regard Starbucks at least somewhat favorably. Meanwhile 35 percent of coffee drinkers viewed Starbucks in an unfavorable light.

Some of the most vocal critics of coffee are college students. Christine Johnson, a student at Milwaukee Area Technical College views non-Starbucks drinkers as "cheap" and "without taste." However, she finds it disconcerting when people insist on carrying the green Dixie cup around for show. She finds Starbucks to have the most superior coffee and does not consider it fast- food.

Meanwhile Carthage College's Jakob Michaelis, a biology student, once found Starbucks coffee to be a big waste money but now enjoys it. "Now that I drink it, it is simply a place to get good coffee. I don't just drink Starbucks though."

Junior finance major Matthew O'Neill believes that many Starbucks drinkers consume it solely for the brand recognition. "I chuckle about it, but I feel more confident drinking out of a Starbucks cup instead of a Dunkin' Donut's cup."

As a society, why do we judge people based on what type of joe they're drinking? Perhaps our country is too politically and socially polarized. After all, Starbucks can connote both capitalism and elitism. Stupidity and freedom. Youth and wealth. Liberal and conservative.

Maybe humans beings, deep down, simply enjoy judging others.

Drinking Starbucks does not elevate your success. Choosing not to drink it does not make you holy enough to judge those who drink the brown Kool- Aid.

Yes it is indeed important to take a look at how corporations and businesses affect society and the world, but we cannot determine one's social location based on a drink. Take action by buying coffee elsewhere if you choose. Go ahead, march in front of the store to inform Starbucks customers of their unsavory business practices. In comparison to the oil industry, the healthcare industry and even the government, Starbucks is relatively tame.

Maybe instead of judging Starbucks drinkers, meet somebody for coffee somewhere and talk. I hear there's a Starbucks around the corner.

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