My coffee name is…


For those of us who absolutely hate hearing mangled versions of our names, the simple act of ordering coffee at a certain ubiquitous chain can be unnecessarily stressful.

It turns out that we are not alone. The Village Voice’s Shefali Kulkarni recently had this revelation:

…I realized that I wasn’t the only one who had tired of being asked how to spell a name that people find difficult to handle, at least in the super-busy moment of a Starbucks line.

So, like other people, I came up with a “coffee name.” Something simple that a coffee jockey can scribble on a cup without thinking. And, after taking a survey of the local scene, it’s clear that many others have come up with a similar solution.

At the Starbucks on Eighth Avenue, a grande iced caramel macchiato for “Sean” was really meant for “Chan,” short for Chandani.

“I never, ever give out my name,” Chan says. “And they still don’t get it right, but, hey, it’s what everyone calls me.”

Is anyone surprised that both the author of the article and the first person quoted both have desi names? And do any readers use a nom de cafe while in coffee shops or restaurants? I never do, primarily because I am afraid that I will forget my alias and never get my $4 drink.

73 thoughts on “My coffee name is…

  1. I had a friend named Bharath, whose Coffee would always end up being labeled Brad. So he started giving his name as Brad, and the barista started spelling it as Chad.

  2. I use Pam as my coffee name, my reservation name and lunch name. It’s just easier. I don’t get annoyed or upset that I have to do it. It’s easier for me to not have to spell out and repeatedly pronounce my name and it’s easier for the barista/hostess/counter person. Also, when there is a line of 10+ people waiting for coffee, who wants to be the jerk taking forever to order coffee because you have to respell and re-prounounce your name 10 times?

    It did backfire on me once when I started going to the same cafe a lot for coffee and lunch at my old job. They started recognizing me and saying “Hi Pam!” or “Good Morning Pam!” and so I felt bad and told them my real name. But they were so nice that they made sure they got it right and pronounced it correctly.

  3. The first time I decided I had enough of this and gave my name as “John”, the sales clerk was so primed for the interaction that he asked me “And how do you spell that ?”

  4. I used to spell out my real name, and then become frustrated when (after wasting my time by asking my name and then asking me to spell out), they would just call out “short nonfat latte” when my drink was ready. So finally, I wrote to Starbucks telling them (1) how unfortunate it was that I had to be made to go through hoops just to get my coffee in the morning, (2) how annoying the blank stare of the cashier is when I tell them my name, and (3) don’t pretend we’re friends. You don’t want to know my name, just give me my damn coffee. I asked them to stop asking for names altogether.

    I got two coupons for free coffee. And now I call myself “Anne”.

  5. What if your name is Dikshit? Do you say call me “dick” or “shit” for short?

  6. Vivek doesn’t seem to be particularly challenging if I start with, “V as in Victor.”

    If I had a coffee name, I’d definitely go with my favorite South Indian Christian name, Immaculate Conception.

  7. I would hate to be that kid in school. I can see the teasing on the variation of the Lipshitz joke : If your dick shits, what does your ass do?”

  8. particularly terrifying was a sales clerk at a grocery store I frequented – under instructions to thank customers by name – peering for a very long time at the sales receipt bearing my name at the end of the transaction and then handing it back to me with a semi-apologetic grin after either having completely butchered my last name or loudly admitting she wasn’t sure how to say it. This happened day after a day without change and had precisely the opposite effect to that the chain’s management probably was aiming for. I began avoiding the store after some time and if I couldn’t I’d avoid her cash register. The sad thing was she was not trying to be offensive.

  9. My coffee name is Sara, an amputated version of my actual name. However, if I don’t specify “Sara without an H”, I will get a cup labeled “Sarah”. You just can’t win.

    On the other hand, my mom uses “Viji” (spelled VG) for almost everything. It seems to work.

  10. Taz. Works every time.

    Almost every time. I always give a quizzical look when they ask how to spell it. “T-A-Z”, I’ll say. Then the barista will look sheepish and walk away.

  11. This is the funniest thread i have ever read 😀

    What is your name? I show my visiting/ID card.. Where are you from? Moron-ia…it is near Antarctica!

    My friend ‘Jeevan’ tells it as ‘G1’

  12. how about responding to the cafe-lady: [ironic or friendly] just call me [Jay]. But it’s weird if you are with others you don’t know well. But if they are cultivated, they are cringing more than you are at the potential confusion. It’s all good.

  13. And I thought maybe I was the only one having this problem. Now I really need to think of a coffee/food name. Reminds of years ago at a crowded food place in Wisconsin where my name was messed up so bad that it took me over 15 minutes to realize that the name being called out amidst other orders was mine. I wonder why the food was cold 🙂

  14. DJ Drrty Poonjabi

    What do you mean “if?” You know nothing of my struggles.

    Heh heh. What about the first name. Any morons started saying Suck deep.

  15. Sometimes when I’m not expecting them to ask, “Vineeta” slips out. But when the barista/cashier/checker asks, “Anita?”, I say yes.

    My name is actually Anita and they still can’t get it right. I’ve gotten cups that have “Annette” written on it.

    My husband’s name is Alejandro and he always says “Al” because no one can spell or pronounce his name.

  16. Hilarious post. Similar to Marathi Guy, a friend of mine would use the name Bill, but would frequently forget that he gave that instead of his real name and lapse into conversation with friends. It was only after hearing it repeated multiple times, at increasing volume, would he remember, “Oh yeah, that’s me!”

  17. I’ve always called it my restaurant name. I thought my name was fairly simple and phonetic, but after getting at least four completely unrecognizable, I now call myself “JANE.” And yes, there was a period of learning to recognize it.

  18. My name is short already, Tim. But sometimes just to make sure this is no other Tim’s around, I’ll go ahead and use T-Bone! It’s pretty funny when the person calls your name.

  19. It’s funny that I was just checking out Naveed aka NSK’s facebook link. And just after that I was viewing the Killers’ Bones video and in the comment section, someone was referring to Navid from 90210 (no idea who this charcter is) when talking about the guy in the video. So a non Desi actor with a desi charcter name.