He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. —Psalm 113:9

December 9, 2008

Not Lovin’ It

McCafe CappuccinoI try to do the frugal thing and make my own coffee in the morning (or, depending on the budget, make my sleepy self wait till I get to work to partake of the bitterly nasty yet free coffee). But this morning, I overslept, and had neither time for breakfast nor coffee preparation, so I swung by McDonalds for a cheap breakfast burrito on the way to work. As long as I was there, I figured I might as well try their new fancy coffee.

But first, let’s talk about those McCafé commercials. You know the ones. Two pretentious GenXers hanging out in a coffee shop, where one of them mentions snidely that McDonald’s has started selling “upscale” coffee. Their companion starts to scoff, but then tentatively approves, leading to an “Oh thank God!” moment when they both admit that they hate having to do the whole pretentious coffee shop thing in order to get decent coffee and then prattle on about all the “normal” things they can go back to doing and all of the useless things they can stop pretending to care about in order to appear intellectual. Because as we all know, all coffee shops are havens for pretentious intellectuals with goatees and long skirts and glasses who read only read Tolstoy and Kafka and travelogues and such.

Where to begin? For one thing, this caricature is so fifteen years ago. Note to McDonalds: Starbucks beat you to “McDonaldizing” coffee before anyone even knew what “McDonaldization” was. Sure, intellectual types still flock to coffee shops, but so do... well, just about anyone who likes steamed milk and special flavor in their coffee. And then my favorite part, in the commercial with the two women: “I can wear high heels again!” and “I just wanna show my knees, y’know?” Because...why? High heels and short skirts aren’t allowed in coffee shops? And let us not even touch on the sexist overtones that suggest the only way a woman can be truly comfortable is if she’s showing off her legs. I mean, WTF, McDonalds? Seriously?

Anyway, back to my original point, which is the coffee. I ordered a caramel latté. I cannot say that I’m impressed. Like Sonic’s version of same, it tastes like it came out of one of those cappuccino machines they have in convenience stores, or like a powdered mix. It left a funky aftertaste in my mouth that I’m still trying to get rid of. It’s not horrible, mind, and if you want a fancy coffee but don’t want to pay for Starbucks’ overpriced fare and there aren’t any other coffee shops around, you could do worse. Then again, you could just run down to the Quicky Mart and serve yourself the same thing for a buck.

This all leads me to conclude what I already suspected: that McDonalds’ target market for their coffee is people who never go to coffee shops because they believe that they’re still filled with the kind of people in the commercials and probably only ever drink cappuccinos from convenience stores or International Foods mixes and wouldn’t know the difference anyway. Which is all well and good, except that if those people are also trying to avoid overpriced coffee, for what they’re getting at McD’s, they might as well stick to their International Foods and save some money.

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