My first impulse was to call coffee profiling: They're thinking a Black woman with a southern accent in a fancy place doesn’t know how to order?!? Then it happened a few more times: at a popular, forever-crowded Nolita and SoHo Manhattan neighborhood establishment, at a Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn cafe, and at a Instagrammable Adams Morgan area hotel lobby in Washington, DC. Every time I sucked my teeth! My anger rushed to the bottom of feet and through the tips of my toes. One time, I asked the demure white barista, why the lecture? He looked puzzled, almost if I shouldn’t be asking a question. “It’s a thing we do,” he said. “Especially if you’re not a regular.” Not a regular? I was in there at least once a week.
So I asked, “You do this thing with everyone who orders a macchiato, or just the people who aren’t your regulars?” Sheepishly, he fumbled his reply, leaving me to wonder, are my feelings valid, or am I being sensitive? May I enjoy my afternoon retreat without the chilly condescension-laced discourse on the difference between Starbucks and “real” coffee?