Today Starbucks have introduced some changes. One of the most publicised, is that they want to use your first name. Of course to demonstrate an intimacy and a closeness. They think about these things, you know…. The sofas are stained and the tables are often chipped rather than pristine in order to, wait for it, make the place feel more homely. This was the whole 90’s obsession with making the coffee shop a ‘third place’, somewhere in-between home and work.

Nice, you might say. Yet the cynic in me finds it so faux. They probably try to emulate what some of us older ones have experienced in an era long gone. I still remember making my first trips to the corner shops where the ladies working there knew my name, and probably a few funny stories about me – from mum and dad, of course. This all happened over time and through conversations, the way intimacy should happen.

I still love the idea of people getting to know me and vice versa. I guess if you’re a chronic loner you might wince at that… Yet, like everything else in our fast paced culture today, we create artificial, fake shortcuts that mimic the ‘real thing’.

Why not give the baristas extra pay, and extra training? Why not hire people for whom this can be a vocation (don’t scoff…) instead of a promotional slick video or glossy brochures?

What troubles me is that we make the same mistakes on the church scene. We love the slick and superficial and struggle with the raw and the long-term… Image over intimacy… Efficiency over authenticity.

BTW, they also offered anyone who tells their name to the barista a free late (lol, not really proper coffee in coffee-snob-land), to sweeten the deal. No, I passed on it. I like free things but ain’t that much of a cheapskate. Ooo, I just got a couple of vouchers for 50% off lattes, for ‘my friends’, too.



  1. That smacks of a forced, rather faux chumminess, a bit like those “American” diners, where nothing on display, like bowling trophies, memorabilia, etc is owned by anybody who works there. Intimacy can’t be forced like this. If I want a cup of coffee from a barista who knows my name, I’ll go to Costa Coffee in Lancaster when a young American girl is on duty..

  2. I wonder if they remember your name the next time you visit.
    They could try the American idea where you wear a badge saying “Hi may name is………..”

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