Some years ago, I pulled into a coffee stop, and entered just as a young man was coming out. Across the back of his shirt was the word ‘Barista’. Some lawyer he is, I thought. He can’t even spell ‘barrister’ properly.
But, of course, ‘barista’ is a newly-coined word, a ‘neologism’ even, meaning somebody who does arcane things with a complicated machine to produce a cup of coffee. It’s no new thing, though; I remember the Bay Café, where they got your coffee from a machine that looked, and performed like a cross between a steam railway engine and a Wurlitzer organ. And, very nice coffee it was, too.
In those days, you simply asked for a black coffee or a white one. Nowadays, you have to learn the local argot. For me, it’s a ‘short black’ in Australia, and an ‘Americano’ anywhere else. Now, according to my ‘coffee book’, an Americano is an espresso with added hot water … but, occasionally, even someone who’s been versed in the black art of coffee making asks do I want milk in it?
One thing I really deplore is the emergence of the ‘drive in’ coffee shop. Are there really people who can’t spare twenty minutes or so to park the car up, go into the place and sit and enjoy their coffee? Or, has carrying a mug of coffee down the street become a sort of status symbol, like a bottle of water used to be?
Mind you, the ‘coffee to go’ does have its place. I was in town recently, and had ten minutes to go before my bus left. I wanted a coffee … but, I didn’t want to miss my bus, either! And, I’m sure that there are many other instances where it may be of use.