Ordering Coffee: Complicated and Nerve Wracking


Hartford Courant: I'm in line at Dunkin Donuts waiting to order a large coffee, cream one sugar, and an iced coffee with milk, a shot of hazelnut, and two Splenda.

Although I have wanted to try iced coffee for a while now, I have been reluctant to do so because I fear the ordering may be beyond my abilities.

Buying a coffee used to be easy: you got it black, light, dark, regular. There was no drama, no performance anxiety, no pressure. Now, there are so many options and combinations that I had seriously weighed writing my order down on the palm of my hand to avoid messing up.

Mind you, I have no idea if I will even like an iced coffee with milk, a shot of hazelnut and two Splenda. But then my aim this morning is not to sample iced coffee, it is to simply practice ordering an iced coffee.

The truth is, I want to be one of them, you know, the cool people who nonchalantly order complex coffee with a smoothness and verve that attests to their superior cultural hipness.

The line slowly edges forward.

I am nervous.

What if the person behind the counter questions me about my order? What if I don't know the answer? What if I am exposed as an iced-coffee wannabe-poser-loser?

I can trace the exact moment in which I became intimidated by the coffee ordering process. It was the day I walked into a Starbucks and was greeted by a perky barista speaking a language that included such words as venti, macchiato and frappuccino.

I have no idea what I ended up with, but it had the texture of hot mud and was foaming. I remain intimidated by Starbucks.

Back at Dunkin Donuts, I mentally work on my presentation. The key will be in the delivery. I don't want my order to come across as rehearsed, but at the same time I don't want to be so casual as to create the impression that I am not deeply invested in my choices.

The moment arrives and I breathlessly blurt out my order.

"So you want two large iced coffees with cream, milk, hazelnut, sugar and two Splenda," she repeats back.

"Yes," I say.

I leave with my first iced coffees, but I'm sure the admiration lingers.

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