The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 20, 2013

Mike Pound: Ordering coffee getting too complicated

According to a story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Starbucks will post calorie counts on its menu boards and food tags beginning Tuesday.

Many big-name food chains have done the same thing, but in my mind Starbucks isn’t a food chain, it’s a coffee chain.

But maybe I’m the only one who thinks Starbucks is a coffee chain.

Whenever I walk into a Starbucks and the nice person behind the counter asks me what I want, I say: “Black coffee.”

When I do, everyone in the place looks at me as if I had asked for liver.

The nice person behind the counter always looks sort of disappointed. A person who makes coffee at Starbucks is not call a “coffee maker” but is called a “barista,” which is Italian for bartender. I know that doesn’t make any sense at all.

What I’m saying here is that the baristas at Starbucks take coffee making seriously, and when someone like me asks for just a black coffee, they get offended.

“That’s a job for one of the intern baristas,” they think to themselves.

I’ve been drinking black coffee for as long as I can remember, and in all those years I’ve never wondered how many calories are in a cup. I just assumed that since coffee is made by mixing coffee beans and water, the calorie hit is pretty low.

But, as I have already pointed out, most people don’t order black coffee when they go to Starbucks. Instead, they order Caramel Rocky Road Chock-full of Nuts Mocha Strawberry Double Lattes with a swirl of cinnamon.

It begs the question: Are the calorie counts going to be listed as Tall, Grande, Venti or Trenta?

I can never remember which Starbucks size is which. I do know that tall does not mean tall at Starbucks. Tall at Starbucks means small.

I’ve never understood how Starbucks was able to get away with screwing around with sizes. Years ago, this country soundly rejected the metric system, but when some coffee company completely changed drink size terminology, we all said, “Sure. Whatever.”

Except for me.

When I walk into a Starbucks and want a small cup of black coffee, that’s what I order. I’m sure the other Starbucks customers laugh at me behind my back, but they would probably do that anyway.

Besides, the last time I checked, this is America. If I want to order a small cup of coffee when I want a small cup, then that’s what I’m going to do. Our forefathers didn’t cross the Delaware just to let some barista force his or her coffee-naming ways on us. They crossed the Delaware to get to the other side.

To be honest, while I appreciate the fact that some food chains are now posting calorie counts, I’m not sure I understand the gesture. Do they really think I need a calorie count to understand that a half-pound bacon cheeseburger and an order of fries might cause a little weight gain?

I think the reason food chains post calorie counts is to say, “OK, we warned you. It’s out of our hands now.”

Really, has this conversation ever happened?

“Hey Bubba, this sign here says that these ribs, them tater tots, that coconut pie and that bucket of soda is fattening!”

“What? Why, that fries my taters! I’m never coming to Earl’s Country House of Pig ’N Bull again.”

I suppose the best thing to do is just watch what I eat myself. I wouldn’t want to get too Trenta.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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