Sunday, January 06, 2013

The cup of coffee that says 'do you know how busy I am?'

A friend recently went to a school carol service in a church. It was late afternoon. Some parents, who had obviously come directly from work, arrived clutching their Starbucks coffee. He was surprised to see this in a church, as I would be.

Certain personality types increasingly feel the need to turn up everywhere - for work, play and now apparently worship - absently clasping a waxed bucket of hot milk with corporate branding on its side. Motion picture actors are never seen out in public without one.

This may be partly a question of thirst but it is more often a question of show. The brandished beaker is a way of saying "do you know how busy I am?" without having to show people your diary. People's need for the milky sustenance in the cup is nothing compared to the signal their sporting of the cup sends out about just how busy they are and how fortunate the rest of us are that they've managed to insert this trifling appointment into a day otherwise devoted to deciding the fate of empires, furiously pedalling to keep the economy afloat or saving the lives of small children.

Busyness is the pose de nos jours. Bah.

P.S. Some of them left their empty cups behind in the pew.


  1. Strange. I always read the opposite way round: the coffee cup person arrived in the area _early_ and had 10 minutes to kill; in search of warmth and WiFi they dove into the nearest coffee shop; the person before them ordered a triple choc marshmallow cinnamon mocha twirl or something; the coffee purchase took longer than expected; the coffee was mouth-stripped hot; they had to make a move still clutching a half-full cardboard cup. The late-coming coffee-toter is the one who thought they had time to kill.

  2. I think it is a comfort blanket, a warm brown milky one, long ago stripped of any noticeable caffeine content, and thus also it's diuretic effect.

  3. The Starbucks cup with matching Bluetooth headset would really show how far we have progressed as a race....

  4. Anonymous9:26 am

    And I thought it is the latterday Branding Fix.

    It used to be the Adidas stripes down the nylon tracksuit (Liverpudlians killed that fad!)
    Then it was the Nike 'Tick' on a semi-shaved scalp

    Now it's a Starbucks coffee cup (let's face it - their coffee is dire - so it cannot be that people want to drink it!)

  5. It's an extension of the fact that people are eating and drinking all the time, unthinkingly. Go to a mega-gig somewhere, and as soon as the band starts, six blokes in the front row will get up to get beers, and an hour later will get up to get burgers. I watch families on days out who will be constantly grazing on ice creams, fizzy drinks, pizza, doughnuts and other crud. Guzzling rubbish coffee and food is Britain's strangest new hobby.

  6. Excellent post - I had not thought of it quite that way before but I think you are dead right on this David!

    The casual arrogance of the cups left in the pews...ghastly.

  7. Speaking as a caffeine addict, sometimes it's just a cup of coffee. It's a cold day, you're thirsty you want a hot drink. Sometimes that's all it is.

    And to add to Claire's comment, the extra cups of coffee being carried around at all times, the food at gigs, the constant grazing. I suspect that a decade ago a lot of those people would have been smokers. There are a certain amount of cups of coffee have probably replaced a quick smoke between station and office for instance. And you can take your caffeine fix inside these days.

  8. Try commuting to work in America. About 75% of the people you see on the bus and train are carrying coffee cups (or the horrid iced kind), they all drink it in their cars too.

    Just makes me think "would it kill you to get up 15 minutes earlier and make one at home?"

  9. It's a neurosis, first in the States then inevitably here. It goes hand in hand with clutching a mobile phone. If it's not clamped to an ear it's held in the hand.

    It's the new smoking. Something to do with one's hands while walking down the street.

  10. If the parents display such a lack of even the most basic of proprieties then I can only wonder at the level ignorance their children will inherit.

    It's just a hunch but these people are probably the very same who can be heard sniffing ''It's before my time.''

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  12. I call these 'trophy coffees'. They are more about status than refreshment.

  13. For some, coffee serves as their fuel for the day. Caffeine maintains their coherence and high morale. Although they may seem busy, I think they should still know where to put their empty cups. Being busy is not an excuse to litter.

    Robert Mahan

  14. Anyone carrying a cup with Starbucks on the side isn't in it for the coffee.