The Starbucks Journey

You start at Hamline by drinking mochas, frappes, or the other drinks topped with whipped cream and flavor drizzles. These frilly drinks treat you like a warm midwestern goodbye. They linger in your mouth and introduce you to the tastes of comfort and chocolate. These drinks give you the feeling of coffee, without the taste.

Sophomore year, you move to drinks with less frill to them. They hint at the coffee in them with the bitter aftertaste that underlies the sweetness of flavoring and sugar. You’ve realized that you need caffeine to function well. Maybe you try something without coffee even in it, while still getting the caffeine fill you need. This is tea time: you drink matcha lattes, green tea on ice, anything with caffeine and without coffee.

Then it hits: junior year. You’re tired. You want out of this academic machine. Caffeine is the gas your body needs to drive― and you know the savior is waiting. So, you start to drink the iced drinks. Lattes, mochas, macchiatos… you can more quickly indulge in this without burning your mouth, so you keep going. You drink iced drinks nonstop. You’re hot shit when it comes to college, but your drinks are ice cold.

And then it’s your senior year. You’ve fully come accustomed to the truth: caffeine is the only way to get through it. All the years before this prepared you for the end of your journey. You’ve begun to drink iced coffee. Cold brew? Hell yes, pour it into my bloodstream. Midterms, finals, and midterms pass again. It’s the end of senior year. You are Running On Empty, just like the Jackson Browne. You crack― it’s time for the be-all end-all: hot, plain brewed coffee. It’s awful. You hate it. All you want is the sweetness of a mocha but the caffeine of a cold brew. But, you can’t get that. Your wallet won’t let you. You learn to like the hot bean juice. You drink it because you have to, not because you want to. 

This is the Starbucks journey of a Hamline student: hot and sugary to cold and bitter.