Starbucks more than just coffee, serves prestige

By Edward Coronado III

Look around Cal Poly Pomona today, and you are sure to find a sea of Starbucks cups held close to the hearts of many students. Are you tall? Hot? Grande? Skinny? Any way you like it, Starbucks promises to deliver a handcrafted beverage perfectly tailored to your tastes.

For a price, that is.

As students, we often gripe about the rising cost of parking, whine over random, two-dollar association fees and complain about being broke college students in general. Ironically enough, we sometimes do this while sitting inside of our campus Starbucks, sipping $5 lattes and checking Facebook on $1,500 MacBooks. And yet, we are hard-pressed to find fault with our actions because we have been convinced that drinking a gourmet coffee is not aluxury. It is a necessity.

But, why? A cup of Starbucks is a promise of status.

We are bombarded with images of business executives, district attorneys and magazine editors indulging in Starbucks, so why should not everyone who aspires a high profile lifestyle follow along? It is safe to assume that we attend college to better our future and someday become a working professional. Drinking Starbucks is a necessary skill that solidifies membership in a virtually nonexistent “Very Important People Club.” A name on the cup establishes importance.

Names on coffee cups add a touch of personalization that is often only found in accompanying high-ticket items purchased by professionals we aspire to become.

Many of us study hard to someday afford large houses, fast cars and the latest technology. However, we may never be able to keep up with the Joneses, let alone the Kardashians. Though some of us may never own 10 bedroom homes, drive 16-cylinder vehicles or earn a seven-figure paycheck, the world need not know our financial reality when we carry custom gourmet coffee.

When carrying an extra hot, triple, soy, grande caramel macchiato with extra caramel and no whip, the iconic green and white cup conveys three messages to the world about its drinker: his or her guilty pleasures, his or her luxury of excess, discretionary income and his or her first-name basis relationships with baristas.

Most importantly, the cup divulges how anyone can enjoy the same VIP treatment.

All of this boils down to the million-dollar question: Do we need Starbucks, and can we live without it? There was a time when a standard cup of coffee satisfied students’ needs. It was not until Starbucks capitalized on the college campus market do we as students willingly spend nearly an hour of hard-earned income on a caffeine fix.

The truth is that a trip to Starbucks is so much more than coffee. While drinking from our personalized cups, we cannot help but sit a little taller and feel a little more confident. The coffee we carry makes a clear statement to the world that though we may be starving students, we are starving students with good taste and direction.

Can we live without our beloved on-campus Starbucks? That is not an experiment that most are willing to conduct. Not because we cannot find other sources of caffeine or because we enjoy paying the high prices. Rather, Starbucks temporarily satisfies our need for more and serves as an indulgent reminder of the people we will someday become.


Sungah Choi / The Poly Post


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