Sunday, October 02, 2005

You Lost Me At Clark Kent

Sunday morning...I'm in dire need of my wake-up call coffee and its always trustworthy guarantee of a morning boom-boom. I try to pop into my local Panera Bread for my coveted Hazelnut coffee, but the line is out the door and into the parking lot with the post-early service Church Crowd from across the street at St. Pius.

So I decided to give the new kid in town across the street a try. Caribou Coffee, the Starbucks wannabe. The new hang for Coffee Fags. You know the type - never content with ordering a simple coffee, they have a need to show-off, like Ghetto Trash zipheads with their "I'm upwardly mobile" cell phones that let you know they are Society's Players, that their every thought has to be enunciated and shared with the world at large. So too Coffee Fags would be shamed to order anything less complex than a double latte, a double red eye expresso, or a mocha java.
Coffee today has become much more than about mere coffee. Coffee is the new language of pretentiousness. Like microbrew beers before it, like wine snobbery before that (I won't even go into bottled water snobbery), coffee is the new means to take something relatively simple and make it pretentious to the point of making the veins in my head throb with a potential aneurysm.

So just who is Caribou? Caribou Coffee Company, Inc., is a large Minnesota-based chain of premium coffeehouses trying to compete with Starbucks (they're a distant No. 2 nationally). It describes itself as “a classic American growth company” with “the look and feel of an Alaskan lodge.” But, in fact, Caribou is neither “classic American” nor a Northern Exposure refuge for Mid-Atlantic L.L. Bean types. According to, an Islamic bank is the majority owner of Caribou Coffee. Yup, it's 87.8% owned by the Bahrain-based First Islamic Investment Bank which, among other things has the following philosophy: "Above all, ensuring that all activities conform to Islamic Shari'ah."
And what exactly is a Shari'ah-compliant company? According to their July 2005 SEC filing for its initial public stock offering, this credo was adopted: “A Shari’ah-compliant company is prohibited from engaging from dealing in the areas of alcohol, gambling, pornography, pork and pork-related products."

Maybe the caribou logo should be replaced with a camel?

I don't have a problem with that (well, OK, maybe I do, because though I can live without pork, I do love my alcohol, gambling and pornography!). But I do have a problem with a Starbucks clone whose chirpy perky staff have to add a forced and invasive friendliness, a T.G.I.F. "flair" to the customer service exchange with such lame-ass promotions as, "Would you like to play our Trivia Game today for a chance to get 10 cents off your order?"

"Um, sure," I think I grunted, as I tackled the brain twister on the board: "What was Superman's real identity?"

"Um, Clark Kent?"

"Yes, that's correct! You just got 10 cents off your coffee."


"Are there people who actually get stumped by that?" I asked.

"Well," the pony-tailed barrista replied, "Today was an easy one. But check us out Mondays. That's a tough one."

I can only imagine. Maybe they ask Batman's real identity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

LMAO@ coffee fags. Call me old-fashioned, but give me mine hot and black...Oh Mondays question asked if Underdog is real.....

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

give me mine hot and black..

that's what she said

7:31 AM  
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