My little bro recently posted about his Starbucks experiences and the culture of that chain. There is nothing like sitting in a Starbucks with your yummy drink, especially with a couple friends and no hurry. While my loyalty to the green mermaid was forever engrained through his employment and also the moment I tasted a Frappucino, I’ve discovered another coffee chain in the last year and a half that has also gained a faithful customer. I know many of you in my blog fam don’t live near a Dutch Brother’s, and I’m telling you, you are missing out. Dutch has one major component going for it that makes it a no-brainer for me. Two words: DRIVE THRU. (Side bar: why is that phrase always spelled incorrectly? I never see the word “through” spelled all the way out. Is that because they assume those who use it must be in a hurry, so much so that they don’t have time to read three extra letters?) If Starbucks had more drive thru windows, I wouldn’t have strayed to it’s blue lettered competitor.

However, there is another interested aspect of the Dutch culture. It’s described on their website as a commitment to “keep solid communication with the customer.” Most of the DB’s that I visit are staffed with overly friendly and good-looking college or high school students, listening to upbeat pop music, who really want you to feel like you are (whether “still” or for the first time) one of the popular kids. “HEY! Howzit going?!” is pretty common, just as though they’d been waiting all day to see me; even though I know they greeted the old guy in front of me in the same way. They usually ask me what I’m up to today, tell me how cute the kid in the back is, etc. A few times, though, the “solid communication” was really reaching. Once, on a sunny day, the kid said “Here you go! And I’ll give you a pink straw to match you cool pink pants!” OK. Seriously? Over the top. You stopped sounding like a cool kid and now sound like a cheesy preschool teacher. Yet another time, an employee who I’m sure was new started chatting me up about how she’s an auntie and all about her nephew, while the seasoned employee had finished my drink, given me an apologetic look, and the drink was sitting behind Chatty Cathy, who wasn’t paying attention. Other than that time, it has never really bothered me, just kind of peaked my curiosity.

Yet every once in a while a barista will have perfected the method, and will greet me with just the right dose of cheeriness and conversation, and I really will feel like someone who has made it into the “in” crowd by frequenting this joint. But what keeps me coming back is that no matter what the experience, the drinks are decent, and Carson stays in his carseat the whole time.