There’s a rant on Salon today about the Starbucks booklet that came out recently that explains how to order coffee. The author of this rant positively has a fit over it, and uses the booklet as a jumping-off point for the usual Starbucks-is-the-root-of-all-evil discussion.
I drink Starbucks coffee (grande decaf nonfat latte). I also drink Peets coffee (medium decaf nonfat latte). Mostly I drink coffee from the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company, because it is close and because it is good (double decaf etc etc ) and because I like the people there (and also they have screamingly fast free wifi). But the coffee chains do not bother me. I do not get excited about the exact flavor of this coffee over that coffee, of french roast over expresso roast, or the politics of chainness over localness. I like coffee. I like coffee a lot. Wish I didn’t have to drink decaf, but thanks to the wonder of psychotropic medications I’ve ended up being hugely sensitive to caffiene, and a full-strenth latte is not a pretty thing, mostly for people who have to be near me as I babble incoherently at them for a couple hours. Even decaf, for me, has enough caffiene to buzz me hardily. But now I’m off-topic.
I got the Starbucks how-to-order-coffee booklet in with the Sunday paper this weekend. Contrary to Mr Salon Ranter I thought it was kind of cute. Its printed on nice card stock. It sits comfortably in the hand. The writing is kind of precious, and many of the definitions were obviously bogus (“unleaded” is how you order a decaf? Who the hell orders decaf as “unleaded”? Not anyone at any Starbucks I know) but overall I believe it was a success at marketing to me. I learned stuff (I’ve heard people order dry caps at coffeshops, not just Starbucks, and never knew what that meant), and although I have zero intention whatsoever of ordering a peppermint latte (yuck!) I do know now that I can get one if I should someday become insane. So I vote on the side of thumbs up for the Starbucks booklet.
Another reason I like the booklet concept: if it helps people get through the Starbucks line faster, rather than getting up to the top of the line and then standing there and staring at the menu and going “uhhhhhhhh…” then I am all for it.
Of course, one could make the argument that it’s just coffee, it is not the DMV, and of course as a good technical writer I should understand that if a product as simple as coffee needs a manual to explain it than perhaps its UI has been made overly complex in the first place.
But then I’d be ranting, and I promised not to do that.