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Starbucks: The Religion of Coffee

Lifestyle & Opinion, Out of the Sandbox

By Madeleine Latimer

In the August 2017, I went into one of my local Starbucks for the first time, and discovered that it wasn’t just a coffee shop. It was a kind of religion. It took me over a year to learn everything I could about this strange religion and I’m writing this now to document my findings to the world.

Starbucks was started in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1971. Howard Schultz saw promise in Starbucks and its ways, and decided to expand this strange religion to other places. He opened more ‘stores’ in different cities, states, and even countries. Now, Howard claims these places are ‘stores’, but I see them more as places of worship. There are 4 different types of places of worship that Starbucks has to offer. The smallest of these is called a ‘Café’. The Café’s are face to face interaction. You talk to someone called a Barista[1]. This Barista accepts your donation, and another Barista serves you your coffee[2] at the end of the bar. The bar is where the ceremony is preformed, and sometimes it can be quite lengthy. It all depends on how your Barista is feeling that day. The next biggest house of worship is called a ‘Drive Thru’. It’s like an express worship, for those in a hurry. You drive up in your car and talk through a box, somewhat like a confession box, to give praise and worship. Your Barista will take your donation at a tiny window, and serve you your coffee immediately. You do not have to wait for the ceremony to be done. The third place of worship is called a ‘Reserve’. Reserves can be big or small, but it’s what they have to offer that truly matters. Reserves carry very special and rare items. Your donation sometimes has to be more than normal to get a Reserve product. But, overall, the same process ensues. The Barista takes your donation and after the ceremony, you are served a special and rare coffee. The fourth and final place of worship is called a ‘Roastery’. Inside of these Roasteries, you have a chance to see how your coffee is made. They make everything from scratch there. It’s the ultimate place of worship.

I did not get a chance to explain coffee and what it is in Starbucks. Everyone knows what coffee is, but with Starbucks, it’s everything to them. In Christianity, during each ceremony you receive the blood and body of Christ. When the ceremony comes to a close when at Starbucks, you get coffee. The coffee is adapted to cleanse you of your sins, or bring something new into your life. If you receive Hazelnut in your coffee, you are trying to rid yourself of a sin or wrong-doing. If you receive Mocha in your coffee, you are looking to find love. So on and so forth. Every cup of coffee is specially prepared to be perfect for the person consuming it. That’s what makes Starbucks so appealing as a religion in the first place. It wants to learn all about their followers and have a personal connection with them. The followers feel cared about and unique.

I had the opportunity of getting to participate in one of the ceremonies behind the bar. I have been asked not to reveal my source to you. The ceremony started out with creating the specific drink for the follower. There is a large screen with over a hundred different modification buttons. Afterwards, the specialized order prints on a little sticker, that is then stuck onto the cup that the follower will receive. There are different ways to make each and every drink, but I got to make a hot drink. They use a big metal mug, called a ‘pitcher’. Inside this pitcher are 4 lines, which coordinate to the 4 sizes of cups. The bigger the size, the more sins to wash away. Once you measure out the choice milk into the pitcher, you put in under a beige stick called a ‘wand’. You pull on a big silver lever and for about 2 to 4 seconds, you let the milk make a sound that imitates paper tearing. Then you set down the pitcher so the wand can heat up the milk to a steamy 140 degrees. While the milk is finishing, you pick the number and type of espresso shots. Blonde shots are for the weak, signature shots are for the angry, and decaf are for the very young and very old. The more number of shots, the more secrets need to be purged. You hit the coordinating buttons for the shots, and then you pump the syrups, if any are required. Two shots take about 20 seconds. Once the shots finish, pour the milk on top, and then the drink is finished.

There is one ritual that is done by all the Baristas. On the first Monday of each month, in every city, a select group of Baristas will gather together and do a coffee tasting. The coffee tastings are where a Barista will prepare a coffee for everyone in the group to try, and they will match that coffee with a food that brings out the flavors of the coffee. Followers of Starbucks almost never get to experience this ritual. Only the true believers, the Baristas, will get to experience a coffee tasting’s true glory.

Starbucks faces scrutiny from the public every day. They are told that their Baristas are being treated unfairly and being paid unequally. They are being told that they are racist and are rude towards homeless people. They are being told that they don’t have something for everybody. But these are all lies created to bring Starbucks down. Starbucks has equality within their Baristas, they are accepting towards every race, they are 100% willing to help out a homeless person in need, and they have different types of milk for those with dietary issues. The list goes on and on. Starbucks is pro-LGBT and can be seen at every pride parade where they have a house of worship. Starbucks is also pro-woman, and the majority of followers are women. Starbucks has the ideal ethical principles and should never be doubted.

The symbol they worship at Starbucks is called the Siren. In Greek Mythology, a siren was a beautiful creature, portrayed as a woman on top, and a fish on the bottom. The sirens would perch themselves on rocks out in the oceans and lure boats full of seamen and fisherman to their deaths on the rocks. I think the Siren is a fitting symbol for this religion.

There are many myths about Starbucks and how it isn’t really a religion. Some think of it just as a major coffee chain throughout the world, but I have firsthand experience with it. It’s not just a religion; it’s so much more than that. Coffee is an addiction, and Starbucks is a cult. The Siren sings her song and calls in over a thousand new followers a day. They’ll never be free of the Siren. I’ll never be free of the Siren. I’m a true believer. I’m a Barista.

[1] Barista – Grunt man. There to serve you in any way. Does NOT deserve praise from followers.

[2] Coffee – See Paragraph 3

Header photo from Thrillist.

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