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06th Jun 2017

I don’t want my name on a coffee cup (or any other forced intimacy)

Alison Bough

Can I have a triple-venti-soy-no-foam-latte without the fake intimacy please?

So, we’re all aware that there is a certain branded coffee shop chain who practically hold your latte hostage until you’ve told them your name.

I’m not an unfriendly person, honestly I’m not. But you don’t need to know my name, barista person. We’re not making friends, we’re not going on a date, we’re not even on a stop n’ chat basis here. Just call out my order and I’ll come get it, I promise.

Even when I give my name to the over-familiar coffee guy, they can’t seem to grasp it – as demonstrated by the picture above. Alison. ALISON. A-L-I-S-O-N. It’s not an unusual name. It doesn’t rhyme with another name. It DOES NOT sound anything like bloody Nancy.

And I’m not alone; just look what my colleague Laura ended up with…

The marketing ‘think’ behind the coffee giant’s faux familiarity is that hearing your name called out, as opposed to say “grande vanilla latte with soy”, will keep you coming back. Has the lonely modern age of social media ‘friends’ and Tinder relationships left us feeling so lonely that we crave such pseudo-intimacy from complete strangers? Where is my right to queue and purchase my beverage anonymously?

I have, on occasion and in complete sullenness, given a fake name. I have also declined to give my name and, yes, it was an incredibly awkward exchange, but in my defence I was the only person in the shop. It went a little something like this:

Me: Hi, can I have a triple venti, soy latte please?
Barista: [Calls order to colleague] Can I get your name?
Me: No thanks.
Barista: [Starts to write N… then looks confused] Sorry, I didn’t catch your name?
Me: No thanks. I’ll just wait here.
Barista: [Looks around for their manager and appears very concerned] It will just be a moment.
Me: [With over-compensating ‘I’m not crazy’ smile] Thank you!

Ok, ok, I felt bad for him afterwards but I’d started so I finished. Don’t judge me, it was a personal protest against The Man, not that man.

Look, I don’t know the barista’s name so the exchange is automatically unequal. I’m not saying “John, will you throw in a banana nut bread as well while you’re at it, ta!” am I?

Mark (with a K) my words – engaging in this bullsh*t bonhomie won’t end well for consumers. Soon enough, the supermarket checkout woman will be scrawling your name across your super-maxi-plus tampons while asking if you’re going anywhere nice on holidays this year.

My name? Just call me Tina…