Pumpkin Spice Latte…poster child for coffee posers?
Recently I partook in an act I would consider innocuous to my “rep.” I ordered, and enjoyed I should point out, a Starbucks PSL.
Since its inception in 2003, the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte has been fodder for both adoration and abhor-ation. Many, MANY blogs and articles have been written about it, some notable ones being:
- The origins of the drink by Allecia Vermillion in OMGF It’s the PSL
- A self-labeled “snarky” review of the beverage by the Huffington Post and Los Angeles-based barista Wes Johansen.
- Starbucks’ own reporting on PSL fan-love!
My intentions with this post are not to add much to the debate over whether enjoying a PSL (skinny, hold the whip) is good or bad, cool or uncool, “in” or “so passe’.” Truthfully, I’m more interested in the cult hysteria and discussion surrounding one, java-based drink and how it has come to represent a line-in-the-sand between acceptance or rejection of the mainstream. It’s an quirky occurrence to recall several scraps of information just from a beverage order…
It seems this flavored brew has come to represent all that is right and wrong with, not just Starbucks, but large coffee conglomerates, or, for that matter, conglomerate society. I’m sure the coffee realists had quite a field day with comparisons and explanations of the negatives in mainstream American society when one could (finally? sadly? obviously?) get their franchise coffee (Starbucks) inside and while shopping in a big box store (Target). Again, I’m not here to debate right or wrong, but I will admit I was jazzed to be able to pick up a chai along with my E.L.F. Cosmetics and Market Pantry items.
As a New Orleanian I was raised on coffee milk (a blend of chicory coffee and lots of milk) at my grandfather’s table and remember the distinguished feeling of finally being allowed to enjoy a cafe-au-lait with the adults after dinner at a fine restaurant.
I respect true coffee experts’ pallets and discernment between various brands, brews and beverage preparations…I’m just not that sophisticated in my coffee drinking. I tend to go more with the “drink what you like” mentality.
I support the ideas of “Shop Local” and financially contributing to mom-n-pop establishments over large corporations. There is certainly something to be said for the feeling one can only get from a steamy, neighborhood coffee joint, most likely filled with notable and interesting characters (especially the ones in the Uptown area of New Orleans). To me, there is also something to be said for the exhilaration of receiving stars, points and perks with my perk! The loyalty/reward system usually only being offered by franchised coffee locations, however.
Lest we forget the big, franchised brands started as just another neighborhood shop down the street. I’ve been to the original Starbucks in Seattle, and I enjoyed checking it off my “touristy to-do” bucket list. I didn’t feel that I was visiting coffee mecca nor did I feel I was visiting the hell where “real” coffee goes to die. I imagine lobbyists on each side of the java debate would feel one of those ways.
The price argument is an interesting one as well.
Coffee pricing can be compared to wine pricing. There is a societal equivocation with the price and quality of wine, understood that, as the price of a bottle of wine goes up, so too should the quality and taste of the wine. The counter to that is the movement that says wine should be accessible and a $10 bottle could taste as complex and palatable as a $1000 bottle. Similar school’s of thought can be correlated to coffee pricing. Upwards of $8 for a beverage is justifiable for the quality of the ingredients, time spent crafting it, taste output, etc.. But why spend that much on a beverage we make so readily at home for considerably cheaper? -or- If you’re going to spend that much, spend it at a neighborhood establishment.
So the argument goes, and goes, and goes…
For me, I will continue to get my PSL and other frothy beverages from Starbucks and continue to justify my purchases based on my points system. Points from credit card purchases get turned into a Starbucks gift card which earns me points with each now “free” beverage which, in turn, leads to more free beverages. (Nice huh?) I will also feel comfortable knowing that, when my purchases don’t come from a mom-n-pop owned coffee shop, I’m still supporting the job of the barista behind the bar at the Starbucks I frequent, or at the one in the airport I just found. I will enjoy their service because, frankly, they are always so nice! Seriously, 90(+)% of the time they are infectiously nice. Perhaps it’s because that’s part of the hiring process and a standard for the Starbucks brand. Another positive hashmark on the side of the big-box-brewer.
So it looks like, for now, I will remain a
Pumpkin Spice Perk Poser
…Proudly? well let’s just say Purposefully 😉
What side of the coffee line do YOU sit on, dear readers? Would you proudly, or indifferently for that matter, walk around with a PSL on your green and white cup? Do you prefer your local java spot because the barista knows your order, or how to make latte foam leaves? I would LOVE to know your thoughts.
& for the record, while I like a PSL, my prefered Fall hot bev is:
- no water
- skim milk
- add Pumpkin Spice
- hold the whip
It’s a bit sweet, but good & punchy. Try it if you like spice, you’ll thank me!