My name is Costa

Coffee Shop

I just read this interesting blog from Darren Rowse about the Power of Personalisation, and what struck me was not some top tips on blogging, but more on the use of names at coffee shops.

Darren seemed to find it amazing that the new coffee shop he frequented was requesting (and remembering) names, but for me – working in central London – it seems to be happening in every coffee shop I go into.

When first confronted with this at the head of a queue in Starbucks I was taken aback. Why do they need my name? I mumbled ‘Bob’ and got in line at the pick-up zone trying to remember the name I’d given. I then started thinking up a few comedy names like Costa, FreeTrade or Archimedes. Of course I never had the guts when put on the spot.

I now ‘have’ to give my name in every coffee shop I go into including this morning in a recently opened Harris + Hoole. But I do so without blinking. It has become the norm. And I must admit it has helped on a few occasions, just recently I decided to investigate Taylor St Baristas, and when someone was mistakenly handed a coffee, the barista quickly shouted, “No, that’s Jacob’s!”.

I’d agree that if I was regularly visiting a cafe in a small community, and the coffee shop owner remembered my name I would feel special. That would be an authentic experience and feel like a shared community experience.  But to be one of a thousand suits all looking for a caffeine hit, you may as well use a fake name for all the meaning it has to both you and the coffee shop staff member. Imagine if it happened in McDonalds, and they scrawled your name on the side of the brown paper takeaway bag… do you feel special now?

I’ve even seen an older lady getting very annoyed at being asked the question in Starbucks, and not wanting to answer. Is she being unreasonable? Is it bad etiquette to be forced to give your name?

Back to the matter of blogs – I would always respond to a comment using the person’s name, in the same way as I would with an email – I think this is just good manners. I’m just not sure if this new ‘naming’ trend necessarily is.


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