Whenever I buy my over-priced whole-bean bag of coffee from the world’s largest coffee chain, I encounter polite smiles and a friendly greeting by name from the baristas. Why? Because I am a fun-loving foreigner who likes French roast. I do enjoy other coffee strengths, though I rarely dip into mild or medium; however, I am known as Rose Hanım (Mrs. Rose) French roast lover and so as not to disappoint anybody, I buy it week after week.
One night coming back from Istanbul after my art opening, I ran into the cafe with chocolate unknowingly all over my face (because of course it is dark in the car and I can’t see my face) and I try to ask for French Roast coffee beans to take home. I’m over-exaggerating my pronunciation, practically singing “Fr-eee-nch” to get my point across because the whole time the barista is backing away slightly. Back in the car I notice my face with fright while my husband chuckles and takes a sip of his mocha. It took me a long time to recover from that experience, exactly one week later when the coffee beans ran out.
Most recently, a different barista exclaimed to me, “You REALLY like coffee, don’t you?” She laughed. “You come here a lot.” I was taken aback, a little embarrassed. Was I flaunting my coffee obsession? This is Turkey, after all, where displays of excess seem frowned upon. Yes, yes, I do love coffee. Nescafe makes my soul cry out in pain. I wondered, though, is making your customers feel ashamed of their purchase a good marketing strategy? Mid-way through opening the vacuum-sealed pouch, she asked me if I wanted it ground and I said, “No, I have a grinder,” to which I got a blank stare.
Next time you wonder where I am, be sure to check the coffee bean display where I am crouched by the extra-strong roasts grabbing 3 bags at a time. Whole bean. Because I have a coffee grinder.