Quit Mocking White Girls – Mexico Has Starbucks, Too

You think the ordering options in America are difficult? That’s cute.

Time To Read: 4 mins | November 9, 2016

When trying to understand a foreign culture, it’s instinctually wrong to spend time in a Starbucks. No store outside Bass Pro Shops is more stereotypically American.

But the thing is, the green and black mermaid is more common in Mexico City than she is stateside: as of 2014, there were 160 Starbucks in MC. The only US city with a higher number is NYC, meaning they’re more common here than in LA, San Francisco, and even the brand’s birthplace of Seattle.

Furthermore, when you think about, no explanation of American white girl life would be complete without Starbucks. If they’re so popular here, it’d be wrong not to check the scene out. And what if Mexican girls also love venti half-whole half-skim double shot lattes with whip and two splendas?

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What if, God forbid, we’re being unfair to white girls?

I decided to investigate. And when I say investigate, I mean the night before had been rough – luchadores and 64oz beers were fun at the time – and the only thing that’d bring me back from the land of the dead was a liter of caffeine.

So I found a Starbucks (about as difficult as finding a taco down here) and entered. On first glance, everything was the same. The same advertisements, same pseudo-inspirational signs, and same bright green aprons on the baristas.

Everything is in Spanish, of course, but this was less intimidating than normal for two reasons. First, the music was the exact same John Mayer and Sheryl Crowe mix they’ve been playing in the States since 2004. No playlist’s ever been so simultaneously comforting and annoying.

But more importantly, I didn’t need to understand all the signage and menus. My Starbucks skill level may not be “Latte-Addicted Working Mother of Three”, but I can walk out with a large black coffee easily enough.

Or so I thought.

My first obstacle was the regular coffee signs – there weren’t any. Usually behind the bar there’s ‘Pike Place’ and ‘Veranda’ and such, but not here. I’d been counting on pointing at one tank, saying ‘grande’, and being done with it. Twasn’t meant to be.

So I checked the menu. The sizes were the same – ‘venti’ was not translated to ‘veinte’ – and while some of the drink names had minor Spanish modifications, it was nothing I couldn’t handle. There were still no regular ‘café’ offerings, but whatever.

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‘Venti’ and ‘cappuccino’ are two words I know, so I said them to the man behind the counter.

Now, in America, I have trouble keeping up with the 8,231 options baristas offer. How in Odin’s name I thought I’d be able to pull this off in Spanish I don’t know, but I suspect the latent 64oz beers were to blame.

What’s more, the locals are usually very accommodating when you’re struggling yet trying with the language. They’ll slow down, point, and use hand gestures to help you along.

But this was a Starbucks, a paragon of efficiency. I had a 5-strong line behind me and ‘Rodrigo’ behind the counter was speaking a million miles an hour. To call me a deer in headlights would be unfair to deer.

…I’ve whined about my language skills enough. Suffice to say, I have no idea what I ordered, Rodrigo considered me an idiot, and everyone in line shot me a dirty look on my way out. Although, despite all that, they did spell my name right.

Before returning to my apartment to hide in shame, I scouted the store’s patrons. If you whitewashed the skin tones, you wouldn’t know you weren’t in Seattle. Everyone’s sitting at separate tables, wearing earbuds and glaring at their laptops. There was a disproportionate ratio of frappachinos to regular coffees, but I chalk that up to the holidays, plus the culture’s complete apathy toward maintaining their midsections.

But to the question at hand: is it fair to rip on #basicwhitegirls when, upon investigation into a single Starbucks in Mexico, it appears consumer coffee culture is the same everywhere? Probably not.

We’ll just stick to mocking your Uggs and selfies and Mean Girls quotes from now on. Sooooo not fetch.

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photo: badass little girl standing on a stump, looking over the crowd for dia de muertos

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Malcolm Freberg
Malcolm Freberg
American writer living permanently on the road. Believes rye whiskey is superior to bourbon, Belle is the best Disney princess, and that selfie sticks should be snapped in half on sight. Hosted a travel documentary for AOL & played Survivor a few times.

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