S*Bux Lingo

You gotta hand it to the Bux… they take that whole “creating a positive customer experience thing” to a whole other level… right on into “infiltrating and rewriting cafe culture and linguistics.”

The husband is an ex-Bux barista. For three years, through gradschool and beyond, he made lattes for the masses. Or, as his resumes wryly put it, he spent those years getting trained and certified in “creating tasty drinks and legendary customer service.”

Part of that legendary service is, in fact to “create a culture.” At one point, the husband told me about the Bux concept of drink emporiums as “The Third Place.” You have home, work, and _______? S*Bux! A  personal, neighborhood establishment, where the barista knows your name and drink order.

The official take on it: Starbucks has long been dedicated to creating a unique ‘third place’ between home and work. We also draw on the centuries-old tradition of the coffeehouse as a place to gather, share ideas, and enjoy delicious beverages. […]  a way to promote open, respectful conversation among a wide variety of individuals.”

Here’s where they get sneaky with that whole “creating a culture” thing…

  1. Change the name of a previously known, widely used thing, just a little
  2. Copyright that tiny change
  3. Proceed to passively, persistently wedge the new, corporately-owned name into a customer’s vernacular. They will be assimilated. 

Kind of brilliant, really, if annoying. Observe the following transaction… It happened to me this afternoon, at the corner of 11th and Pacific Ave.

Bux-ter Barista: Can I get you a drink started?
Me: Sure. I’d like a small cafe au lait, please.

One cafe misto, you got it. And what size?
Small please. [gesture,”small”]

One tall cafe misto, coming up!
Also, I’d like a rice crispy treat, please.

OK! Here’s your Crispy Marshmallow Square!

And, yes, I did get what I ordered… sort of. But really — misto? Anywhere in the world– and I’m pretty sure this includes Italy– I could order a small cafe au lait, and not get corrected or –worse!– a blank stare. But not at the Bux.

At the Bux, I drink a tall cafe misto (c). I eat a crispy marshmallow square (c). Why? Because it says so, right there on the board. And in the pastry case. And on the website. And because you can’t mess with the mechanations of culture, can you?


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