Thursday, December 29, 2011

One More Cup of Coffee 'for I Go

A Generational Analysis of Coffee

I have mentioned in my blog that I work in the hospitality industry and from my many food posts you can see I am a bit of a "foodie."  And if you are in the food business in the US it stands to reason that coffee will be a part of your life.  Coffee is a big part of my life.  I like to drink it and I see a lot of people buying it every day at work.  But in my line of work you just don't serve people you tend to scrutinize and analyze how people consume.  I am a BIG TIME people watcher - I love it, it often consumes me.

And NO, it's not just looking at hot girls asses - I do sometimes (rarely) actually do work and think about relevant things.

So one of the relevant things I have been thinking about is how coffee defines us and particularly our generations.  Again, if you have read my blog you will know another thing I love is generational theory.

So I have come up with a few observations about the various generations and their coffee habits, a bit tongue and cheek of course!   :)

The Elderly (GI and Silent Generation):
Their first reaction will be bewilderment that a small is now 16 ounces; twice the size of what they used to drink back in the day out of a china cup!  And don't even get me started when you ask them about a rewards or punch card; that will lead into a lengthy Q&A that can go on infinitely.  Next, they will now spend several minutes talking about drinking coffee at the drug store counter with their sweetheart yada, yada.  They will then say that if they drink all of this coffee they will be peeing all afternoon.  That will lead to a conversation about the liver pills they need to get this afternoon and their proctologist appointment next Thursday.  All while the rest of us wait to pay for our coffee!

After that they will proceed over to the condiment stand.  They won't have any clue what to do; all they want is cream and sugar.  But here they have hazelnut, white chocolate truffle and 15 other creams and 10 different types of sugar and sweeteners not to mention Cinnamon, ginger, soy milk, and protein powder.  After discussing that they never had all these choices they will get frustrated and then sigh and walk away and say they will just drink it black and muttering that they need to get to a phone so they can call to make an appointment!

Baby Boomers:
You have to understand that Baby Boomers assume whatever they are doing is exact what everyone else is waiting for them to do it and that we are fascinated with anything they have to say.

So as they pump their coffee they will be telling you why this currency manipulation is screwing with the stock market and that the government just needs to get off of my back and leave my government backed social security and medicare I'm about to get alone!

Then they start to fumble with the condiments (they are vaguely familiar with choice here it's just that they can't read the flavors on those small creamers as they are not wearing their reading glasses).  Then they will start discussing that their doctor has them on no sugar and dairy so you have to point out the right sweetener and soy milk for them.  Somewhere along here they may start talking about their stock portfolio or maybe complain about the cost of their daughter's college tuition to Sweetbriar Equestrian Institute for Spoiled Former Lap-babies.

Anyway, this will go on all day or until their Admin calls and tells them they are in a meeting in 15 minutes.

The Youngsters (Millineals and Generation Next):
Not relevant but cute!
The first challenge is getting their 'effing attention and finding the right punch card for this Bistro; they will have been on their IPod/phone and won't start looking until they realize that reality is a cashier waiting on them.  Once they have their cup they will begin pouring.  Half way through they will realized that they need to text all their friends that the Bistro has Pumpkin Spice today.  That will remind them to post the fact that the Bistro has Pumpkin Spice to their Facebook page.  Then they will remember that they have been meaning to download that Barista app for their IPhone - which they will now do even though there are 10 people waiting for coffee now.  Once the app is through they finish filling their coffee.  Now they step over to the condiments.  They sigh in disgust because there are only 15 flavors of creamer (note generational difference between this generation and the Silents above)!  Then they stammer "OMG, they are out of anise infused sugar - I can't drink this shit now!"  As they walk away in disgust they tweet to all their friends "OMG, the Bistro is out of anise infused sugar wtf!"  :(

Their IPhone buzzes with a text from their mom reminding them of their dentist appointment that afternoon.

Gen X'ers:
Us Gen X'ers are serious about our coffee; us and all those grunger dudes in Seattle started this whole revolution if you don't know.

Rather than just simply bragging about my generation, I'll just give you a rundown of what I do.  After all, like my Gen X brethren I am an independent kind of dude!  First, I have my punch card ready with exact change because I know the price and I want to get this done ASAP - I have to be at ballet for pick-up in 10 minutes.  Next, I'm a "march to the beat of a different drummer" kind of guy so I go to the condiments first and put in my 2.5 pumps of regular cream and 2 Splendas in first.  You see, this way the warmth of the coffee mixes the condiments as I pour thus saving me 5 seconds of my life by eliminating the stirring.  You ask, what happens if they are out of Splenda.  Hey, I said I am a watcher - trust me I know where they keep the Splenda.  I've been known to restock cups and make my own pot of coffee, I'm in a hurry and I ain't waitin' on the Barista to stop hitting on that young Gen Y chick!

Next, I reach around that Millennial with his thumb up his butt whilst tweeting.  I can get to the Jamaican Blue Mountain or the Costa Rican Peaberry and pour my cup before they even realize what I'm doing (note, sometimes when I am in a flavor mood I may splash in a little Mountain Blueberry).  And so I am off in less than a minute and four minutes before my Droid tells me I'm late for pick-up and the counter is restocked with Splenda.  Now who said Gen X was not out to make the world a better place!    :)


Luna Moon said...

I loved your observations. I fall into the Gen X category. I know my grande soy latte at Starbucks wil cost $4.40. I also enjoy seven--yes seven--Splendas as opposed to your two. I have an awful sweet tooth.

I am always amazed at how orderly we all stand--the generations--by the counter waiting for our coffee. Much more patient than the post office, where I was yesterday. A customer called one of the employees a "F-ing Idiot" and the employee was generous to respond in kind. A very awkward moment for all of us.

Coffee keeps us sane, somehow! At least it keeps ME sane.

Elle said...

Well, I have the bladder of a geriatric, the social networking addiction of the youngsters, the attention span of the boomers, and the serious coffee attitude of the of the Gen Xers. So does this make me absolutely perfect or horrendously unbearable?

Elle said...

P.S. It's fitting that I'm drinking coffee as I post this!

Ryan Beaumont said...

@ Luna - yeah, I've gotten a little irate at the Post Office recently as well but I tend to feel bad for the poor clerks. You know they have had a lot of cutbacks as the gov't wants USPS to be more profitable. Thats what you get with all that filthy profit motive! :)

@Elle - ah Elle, it just proves what I knew all along you are timeless!