Starbucks showdown over bagel language bust-up

17 August 2010

starbucks-logo Imagine if the incidents in the Michael Douglas film Falling Down had been sparked off by linguistic differences rather than pent-up middle-aged rage.

That was the scene in a in a Starbucks in Manhattan the other day when a professor of the English language decided she wasn’t going to play ball with the coffee chain and their own in-house terminology. Fortunately, the cops came along and threw her out.

Lynne Rosenthal only wanted a toasted multigrain bagel and refused to respond to the ‘barista’ when asked if she wanted butter or cheese with it – she wanted neither you see!

She told the New York Post: “I just wanted a multigrain bagel. I refused to say 'without butter or cheese’. When you go to Burger King, you don't have to list the six things you don't want. Linguistically, it's stupid, and I'm a stickler for correct English.”

It all got nasty when the barista insisted that she specify whether she wanted butter or cheese and when Lynne yelled “I want my multigrain bagel!”. The boys in blue were duly summoned and the 60-something prof was dispensed into the street.

It turns out that Starbucks and Lynne have history – in the past she has had run-ins with the baristas for using words like ‘small’ or ‘large’ instead of ‘venti’ and 'tall' - the agitator!

A barista who was present during the skirmish said: “She would not answer. It was a reasonable question” and also claimed that the professor called the staff member an “asshole.”

If you’re a Starbucks customer, what do you make of it all? Do YOU join in with their special language games or do you just mumble ‘big black coffee’ and point at the muffin you want?


  • The B.
    What a pedant, I like it.
  • Fby
    Small or large I say. None of their crap talk.
  • Fby
    Not that I ever buy coffee from starbucks. Not that sell anything that might be described ad coffee
  • Paul
    That must have irritated the people in the queue behind her. I hope they scalded into her forehead with coffee to ensure that she does not repeat her tantrum.
  • Jimbo
    Apparently all that 'Venti' stuff isn't even correct, they've done a mix and match or something. Either way, if you don't want to specify what you want exactly, go to greggs and get it pre-packaged. Only idiots would pay £4 for a fuckin 'coffee'.
  • James
    Yeah, I can't be arsed learning their made-up language (ok, fusion of words from wherever) - small medium and large seems to me to be good enough and everyone understands that.
  • Lance B.
    I wouldn't ever go to 'bucks by choice, but I regularly spurn the Costa 'Primo', 'Medio', 'Massimo' bollox by never deviating from my request for a "large black fairtrade coffee please". Never had any issues with that to be honest but I can imagine that sort of thing not computing in New Yoik.
  • PokeHerPete
    I don't see the problem. I just silently pay £6 for my coffee and walk out.
  • Bunk
    Danny: Can I get a large black coffee? Barista: A what? Danny: Large black coffee. Barista: Do you mean a venti? Danny: No, I mean a large. Barista: Venti is large. Danny: No, venti is twenty. Large is large. In fact, tall is large and grande is Spanish for large. Venti is the only one that doesn't mean large. It's also the only one that's Italian. Congratulations, you're stupid in three languages. Barista: A venti is a large coffee. Danny: Really? Says who? Fellini? Do you accept lira or is it all euros now?
  • NellieIrrelevant
    I'm a pedant myself - one of those people who get pissed off at apostrophe's in plural's - but this woman sounds like a twerp. She lost the argument when she screamed 'gimme my bagel!'. If she feels that strongly she should go to a coffee shop where they use English instead of BuckSpeak or whatever. And surely the answer to 'Do you want butter or cheese?' is 'Neither'. One word, perfectly grammatical, perfectly clear. In fact, on reflection, she's not a pedant. She's a loony claiming to be a pedant. Who likes publicity.
  • Pedant
    Hi I'm Pedant. I like this story very much.
  • Noodles
    jonny spandex u r not funny go away in to ur hole
  • Felacio N.
    I say we re-take the colonies.
  • Marky M.
    Tip: order in Polish. You get served quicker.
  • James D.
    @Noodles Stop badgering Mr Spandex
  • Mr G.
    As a professor of the English Language she should realise she is on a loser anyway: IT'S FUCKING AMERICA! Silly old cow.
  • The B.
    Got to Wetherspoons (the only time I venture in there is before 9am), 79p for a large Lavazza latte is about my limit, £4 for a coffee is a tax on people with too much money.
  • Nobby
    A venti is 20 fl oz. That's why it is called venti.
  • Nobby
    As to the dumbass professor, they need to get a restraining order on her.
  • Richard
    She sounds even more stuck up than the people who use the Starbucks words. What a stupidly annoying bitch, hope she gets barred :-P
  • AVD2014
    Who gives a flying fuck about what they say? why do people care so much? why is it so hard to say 'no cheese or butter' christ people need to lighten up and go with the flo.
  • Callum B.
    I work at a Costas, which makes the dueling proliferation of terminology all the more infuriating. I don't know what the fuck Starbucks or your local coffee shop or whoever calls a small coffee; our boards call it a Primo for some dumb reason but the staff all call them ''small''. Much worse, however, is ''regular''. What is a ''regular'' coffee? It's sure as hell not on our boards. Do you mean you want a plain coffee, or a coffee of a specific size? Is said size small, or a medium? I can tell you, based on experence, that 50% of people are absolutely sure it's one of them and the implication of it being the other one makes them give you a look like you're addled. ''I want a regular coffee'' ''You mean, our Americano, which is similar to a filtered coffee?'' ''No, I want a latte coffee. A regular one.'' ''Is that...small, or medium?'' ''You know, regular.'' ... ''I said regular, this is a medium. Also, I said I wanted a latte coffee, you know, a coffee with milk!''
  • James
    What cunts offering that poor professor butter or cheese. Way I see it, she had no choice but to look at them in total silence and refuse to answer such confrontational questions. As usual the police on the other side of the pond have come down on the wrong side.
  • RTB
    Them: Do youi want butter and cheese? Me: If I'd wanted them, please be assured that I am perfectly capable of asking for them without your prompting. Game over.
  • Starbucks T.
    [...] the original here: Starbucks showdown over bagel language bust-up | BitterWallet Share and [...]
  • blagga
    @ callum. You work at Costa, not Costas, you bell-end.
  • agatha
    The barista sounds like the pedantic arsehole. And, what is it with Americans always calling the police? It's a disagreement over a bagel with a middle-aged lady professor! Geez-Louise!
  • bob
    I work for the police. If some dunb shit had have rung saying that want an office for something so petty I sure as shit we wouldn't be sending one

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment