Really Starbucks? No lemons? At all?

So the other day I was slogging through Midtown and made a quick stop at one of the roughly ten thousand Starbucks that occupy every available Manhattan street corner. I have noticed that some blocks even feature two, and as it now stands there appears to be at least one Starbucks outpost for every bag-laden, Euro-wielding tourist in the metropolis on any given day. Honestly, the next thing you know, you’ll slip into the restroom to drain off that tall skinny triple mocha-chino chai latte only to find they’ve set up a coin operated Automat style coffee bar next to the sink. Imagine it: a sign featuring an earnest looking barista in a rainforest setting with a headline that reads “Now that you’re down a quart, why not top off the tank with a super fast vente latte* to go?”  *Gigante size only in our pitstop refill stations. You’d be like a hamster on a wheel, endlessly draining and refilling, never able to leave the Starbucks without risking a toileting accident or caffeine letdown. On the positive side, maybe they’d start referring to their employees as the pit crew.

Anyways, where was I? Oh yes Starbucks, quick stop, etc. So as a rule I don’t patronize Starbucks because I hate their coffee and object to the acid trip that is their nomenclature system. I don’t know what a latte is or why small is now medium, and I don’t really care; just give me a goddamn small coffee to go, and if you’ve got something that doesn’t taste like it was brewed with a blow torch and a load of napalm, I’ll take that.

On this day, however, I was in the market for a small green tea. Actually I loathe green tea, but Doctor Feelgood suggested replacing coffee with green tea to mitigate some of the “aggression” that excessive caffeine seems to produce. Now, during the long on-line death march I was able to study the menu for nearly twenty five minutes, which was exactly the amount of time I needed to decipher it and confirm that yes, indeed, they do offer green tea. But these days, really, who doesn’t?

Having now blown the better part of the lunch hour, I approached the barista and ordered my small green tea (I refuse to call a small a medium — if I do, they will have won, and that cannot stand). I then specified a lemon (this is unusual, but as I mentioned I hate green tea and so I load it up with lemon and sugar to make it palatable) only to receive a blank stare in return. After a short pause — presumably to process this bizarre request — the social intercourse recommenced. It went something like this:

Barista: “We don’t have that here.”

Kitchen Slattern: “You don’t have lemon?”

B: “No”

KS: “You sell tea, but have no lemon?”

B: “Yes, I mean no.”

KS: “Not even the little packages of lemon juice like they give you at McDonald’s?”

B: “No”

KS: “And why might that be?”

B: “I’m not sure.”

KS: “So you’re asking for $2.50 for a small cup of tea, but you can’t provide a standard item like lemon for it?”

B: “Uh, yeah, I mean no, um I don’t know.”

KS: “Perhaps you should consider cutting back on the Cds and tote bags in order to make room for lemons.”

B: “Do you want the green tea or not?”

KS: “Do I want the (series of expletives deleted) tea? No I’d rather have a lit match stuck up my (second series of expletives deleted) than give you two-fifty for a cup of tea with no (expletive) lemon.”

007 Martini courtesy diyinspired.com

B: “Ma’m, have you been drinking?”

By this point the other patrons were getting restive as the line now snaked out the door and most of the way down East 45th Street. So in keeping with Dr Feelgood’s advice, I took a deep breath and “turned away from conflict,” by declining the god-forsaken tea.

Happily, next door at Jojo’s Big Train Bar and Grille  there was plenty of lemon which they were only too happy to provide, along with a river of soothing Grey Goose.  And they threw in the peanuts for free!

About WSW

Writer, wife, mother. Toiler in the bottomless, black, soul-sucking coal mine of domestic life. Thank God for the portable bar.

Posted on March 19, 2012, in Cocktails!, Good to know and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. they’d never have got away with that nonsense here in tea-obsessed England. Not that we go in for lemon in a massive way, preferring a nice drop of milk in our brew, but we do expect to get a nice cup of tea without having to argue about it, preferably made in a pot – none of that “here’s a teabag and here’s a mug of lukewarm water – finish the job yourself” idiocy you do get in some places.
    Your salmon recipe turned out well, by the way, thank you – and it was such a big piece of fish it made leftovers for three days!

  2. I’m not sure if they have Green Tea Lattes at the Starbucks in the States, but the iced version isn’t that bad. It’s not made with real green tea, though but some powdered version. It’s very popular in Asia. Get it without the syrup and let me know what you think!

    • Sadly, Dr Mengele Feelgood has also put sugar on the verboten list and I can’t begin to face green tea in any form without it. I save the sugar for a desperation green tea and the odd illicit cookie. If he thinks he’s putting vodka on the no go list, however, he’s got another think coming. Behold how the mighty fall.

  3. Great post…If ever in the West Village, let me know…

  4. God I hate Starbucks. I hate calling a coffee a tall or a grande. WTF. I just point now when I have to go in there. Green tea is a marketing ploy so they don’t have to wait for tea to ripen…or whatever it is tea does to get black. The only way I can drink it is with the addition of a Moroccan Mint tea bag….and lots of sugar, which is probably counterproductive to whatever the hell benefits/magic it’s supposed to impart.

    • I am so with you on the green tea. I hate it as truly and deeply as I do freakin’ Starbucks. Here are the variations I can stand: Republic of Tea’s cherry green tea and Mighty Leaf’s tropical blend. Still waiting on the big antioxidant health breakthrough.

  5. Thank you for standing up for the lemons. The are MIA in Rhode Island as well. I took it personally, like we were too small to matter. The hell with Starbucks, we have Dunkin Donuts. Currently 99 cents for any size ice tea with as much damn lemon as you want. Nothing green in sight.

    • You are most welcome. Shocking isn’t it, that in the city that never sleeps it’s probably easier to find a narcoleptic shoe-fetish tolerant hooker (if that’s what you’re interested in, not that there’s anything wrong with that) at any given time than a wedge of lemon at a coffee and tea emporium. Glad you dropped by!

  6. Finally! Someone besides me who doesn’t like green tea! Whenever I tell someone that they look at me like their upper lip suddenly began to stink.

  7. Burn the shop to the ground.

  8. Good thing liquor calms the nerves and, BONUS, has no caffeine.

    “if you’ve got something that doesn’t taste like it was brewed with a blow torch and a load of napalm, I’ll take that.” <—I almost spit out my frou frou strawberry lemonade (sadly unspiked) when I read this gem.

  9. I’m with you about Starbucks and refuse to call their drink sizes by other names. If for some reason I’m forced at gun point into one of their est. then I called coffee how it should be called…a Cup o Joe.

  10. BEST.COLUMN.EVER.

  11. Yog-Sothoth is the Gate

    Starbucks opens rest room in rest room of existing Starbuck’s: http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-starbucks-opens-in-rest-room-of-existing-starb,560/

  12. I love green tea. It’s the only thing the doctor left me after the caffine purge. I don’t go to Starbucks. Never could understand how someone would make a living as a barista. If I called Mikey at the Blue Plate a barista I’d be sipping my green tea up my butt.

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