Caffeine Nation

When I ask for soy milk in my coffee at Starbucks, the request is usually met with a look of disdain, the order repeated back to me with a disgusted intonation on the phrase “with soy.” Those hippy weirdos and their soy milk, they seem to say. Sometimes, however, the cashier looks at me as if I had asked for, oh, I don’t know, raw chicken livers to be added to my drink. Shock. Confusion. Horror. Concern.

On Tuesday, the ordering process went fairly smoothly, but then I had to wait for the drink to be made. It would all be so much easier if they kept the soy milk out on the counter with all the other milks, sweeteners, and such. But no. They hoard that shit behind the counter like it were liquid gold. So I have to wait for the barista to make my drink. This involves filling the cup (too full, usually) and then drizzling in a paltry few drops of soy milk (for which they charge me fifty cents extra). This time, though, a poorly made drink was not my problem. Instead, the drink was forgotten. I watched while latte after latte was given to its owner, no grande coffee with soy in sight.

When I finally asked about it, the guy behind the counter (baristo? Can I say “baristo”?) was all, “So, you just want, like, cold soy milk in here?”

“Yes. Just a coffee with soy.”

“Cold soy?”

“Yes, just like a person would add cold milk into their coffee.”


“The only reason you have to make it is that you don’t put the soy milk out on the counter, so I have to ask you to add it for me.”


Oh, indeed. Isn’t this the most ridiculous thing, like, totally ever of all time? I argue that it is. Not only do I have to wait for them to prepare a drink that they shouldn’t have to make, but they do it poorly! If I am paying fifty cents for the soy milk, I want enough of it that it actually lightens the coffee perceptibly. I mean, really. I’m using what, one or two ounces? A latte of the same size would use at least ten ounces of soy milk. For which they would still only charge fifty cents extra. All the coffee shops in Oregon always had the soy milk out on the counter dammit! Why can’t you be more like Oregon?!

Oh right. I have to go to Starbucks here. Never had to resort to that out West. GRUMBLE.

But I digress. I didn’t mean to turn this into the Great Rant on the Cost of Soy Milk and the Dignity it Should Hold as a Beverage of Health and Sustainability. What I wanted to do was show you this:


The poor baristo (yes, let’s call him that) felt so bad about my wait that he gave me a venti coffee for the size of a grande! That is four additional ounces of precious, precious coffee. Let’s just say I was flying high after this! With exclamation points!

I zipped though my grading, foot jiggling up and down, knuckles cracking, heart racing. I felt amazing! So much coffee! Wheeeee! It reminded me of how much I loved coffee in general. Why don’t I drink more coffee, I asked myself. I should really have a few more cups per day, shouldn’t I? Think of the, um, health benefits! THINK OF THE JOY!

So it’s a good thing the water bottle cage on my bike happens to be the perfect size to hold my travel coffee mug.

[294/365] Caffeination > Hydration

After all, who needs water to hydrate with? Isn’t coffee brewed with water? I rest my case.


  1. I can no longer drink caffeine, and this makes me want coffee so bad I can’t stand it. And with soy milk. And it’s not all of the South — there’s soy aplenty in Kentucky!


  2. Oh my God, I just had a conversation with a friend about how much we both love coffee and how we are both trying NOT to drink it in the afternoons. It’s so sad too, because afternoon coffee is the best. I feel like flying when I have a coffee after lunch! Preferably with a cookie 😉


  3. I have seemingly become immune to the effects of caffeine…except when I accidently order a “large” coffee and they give me a venti….then I’m flying! That stuff is too much!

    On the soy milk tip, I just found out that if you get one of those Starbucks cards…after you hit the “second level” whatever that means, your soy milk is FREE. Yes, FREE! No more hipster tax! I’m about to get my card for that reason alone.

    Finally, at a local coffee shop where I used to work, I started getting an Herba Mate Latte, which is Mate Tea run through the espresso machine then poured into steamed soy milk, with agave nectar for an extra touch of sweetness. Holy crap…that stuff is intense! Don’t plan to sit down after trying one of those.


  4. Em – Aww, so sad not to have coffee anymore! You will have to replace it with an equally great vice. Hmm, let me think… But in other news, the promise of Kentucky streets flowing with soy milk makes me think I should come visit you again soon! The Louisville conference is coming up in Feb!

    Rose-Anne – Ach, yes. Afternoon coffee gets me every time! I think I am getting too old to have it after lunch.

    Scott – This excellent news about the Starbucks card could be life changing! I shall go investigate myself. Also, that yerba mate drink sounds like just the recipe for big grading days.

    Nicole – Good plan!


  5. I came late to the coffee party and didn’t start drinking the stuff until the twilight days of my 20s. It’s great stuff but I’m perpetually afraid of getting addicted to it like so many people I know. I don’t want to get to the point of needing 3 cups in the morning just to keep my eyes open. It’s so easy in this town, with excellent coffee shops every ten feet, all of them trying to one-up one another when it comes to being organic/free trade/wonderful/etc. Stumptown now arranges “coffee tastings.” I often use the “Annex” where they host these as a study hall. It’s hard not to be distracted by tourists sticking their faces in piles of fresh-roasted beans.

    I resorted to going to a Starbucks at one point over in Amsterdam last month. My host was disgusted. “Why would you want to go to Starbucks in Europe,” she said with a cheeky roll of her eyes. “You’re so flippin’ American!”

    You think service is bad at SBs down south? Try Europe. Higher prices, indifferent, even scornful service and don’t dare ask for soy or a pumpkin latte. “What’s a pumpkin latte,” the girl behind the counter asked me. One major drawback of the old continent: they don’t do Halloween and aren’t hip to the wonders of pumpkins (AKA the World’s Greatest Fruit).

    Anyway, yeah, we’ve got good coffee but our BBQ and weather sucks. Trade ya any time.


  6. Man oh man. Ach nein, vee don’t haff any, vat choo call, PUMP-KEEN coffee*.

    No pumpkin. Pumpkin is the best! That’s why I love America!

    *I kid, I kid! Of course, my best approximation of a Dutch accent is a German accent. And I am allowed to make fun of the German accent because I actually love German. But still, my love for America and pumpkin treats stands.


  7. You just need to transfer to UF. While we don’t have soy milk on the counters (yet), I never get a “look” or anything.

    Also, I too have had those feelings about coffee. And then, all of a sudden, I realize I haven’t actually SLEPT in, you know, a while. And then it’s time to cut back.


  8. I’m not addicted to coffee. I just need 1-2 cups to start my day or else I will GO CRAZY AND DIE.

    On the bright side, I’ve pretty much broken the afternoon coffee habit. Sometimes I want the comfort of a warm drink more than the caffeine, and also coffee & milk is delicious, so when I’m home on lunch break I fill my 12 oz travel mug with equal parts coffee and almond milk. It gives me a little bump of energy, but also a jolt of calcium. See? COFFEE IS GOOD FOR YOU. 😉


  9. Kristen – I know. I go through periods of crazed caffeinated AWESOMENESS and then I have to wean myself back down to a normal dose for a while. It’s a delicate balance.

    Chrissy – You are cracking me up this morning! Coffee *is* good for you!

    Generally, it really warms my spirit that all of you guys are as coffee-crazed as I am. Makes me feel like I belong. But do you know what would warm my spirit even more? That’s right, some coffee!!


  10. I spent 3 weeks over there. I have absolutely no ear for the Dutch language. It sounds like German to me sprinkled with a little Hewbrew. I remember sitting in a cafe in Leiden next to three rather good-luck Dutch ladies. It was weird to hear them say words that sounded like they were clearing their throats.

    Anyway, I’m over at Stumptown Annex on SE Belmont right now looking at a stack of work. Just received a spontaneous 20-minute crash course on everything from how Starbucks foolishly mixes beans from multiple farms in their blends to what Manhattanites think of Portland coffee. The guy working the bar was bored and feeling chatty.


  11. I literally LOL’d at your picture of the travel mug in your bike!

    I think the idea of graduate school without coffee is pretty much as close to “cruel and unusual punishment” as one could get without technically violating the Constitution.

    I always make extra coffee and keep it in the fridge, I drink the cold stuff with vanilla soy in the mornings because it’s too hard to drink hot coffee quickly. And I need to chug coffee weekday mornings for my LA commute.

    Addiction? What addiction?


  12. Come to Australia, and just for you, I will make coffee where both the milk AND and the water is made out of soy. It will be a world first!


  13. B – He is probably right that Starbucks is foolish.

    Aj – Ha ha ha. I like to save the end of my pot for cold coffee later, too.

    T – Whoa, Tim. WHOA. You are blowing my mind right now!


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