I used to tell Lucky, a good friend of mine, that I would burn if I step inside Starbucks or any other classy coffee shop. I just don’t feel right sipping over-the-top expensive cups of coffee.
Lately though, I found a good reason to sit there among the Starbucks crowd: to see someone special sip an over-the-top expensive cup of coffee.
Really, the whole reason I can get over my issues is I’m so busy staring at Chemae. It’s like beauty or love or the simple (almost dumb) combination of those two trumps every feeling of insecurity and injustice in me. I’m just immersed, soaked to my socks in this unbelievably light, unworldly feeling. I can watch her sip that cup all night if I don’t have to run to the train station every 9:00 PM.
Just Not a Starbucks Person (Before)
This is what I used to drink in UP: a refreshing plastic cup of buko juice (or so it says on the cup. May just be murky white water with sugar.)
I used to live on fishballs, footlongs, and buko juice back in college, so the thought of paying up for a cup of Starbucks coffee back then was just ridiculous for me. In fact, it’s still ridiculous for me today, but I know I can afford a cup if I wanted to.
Coming from a very modest background, I’m overly suspicious of expensive and grand things. I feel like they are so unnecessary, like, “who’s the raving lunatic who allowed these things to exist?” I guess I’ve always felt that way ever since I studied Marx. Thoughts of injustice are hard to quarantine in your mind when you’ve been studying them for four years.
I might be changing as I spend more nights with the cutest hyperblogging coffee drinker though. I’m beginning to appreciate the meticulous concoction of this American coffee. I’m starting to like the feel of that chair and the cool of that simple shade; conversations overheard in the background; the guard peering in at our chess game; talks of family, love, sex, and society; the unmistakable peace in her gaze.
Warning: RANTS AHEAD
Read this Potentially Boring Part if You Want to Know Why I think Starbucks MAY BE Unjust
Injustice depends on your definition of justice. If your idea of justice is similar to Marx, then you’d find all sorts of evils and wrongs in the existence of Starbucks. However, if your idea of justice is that of Nietzsche, then things as they exist right now are the very definition of justice; meaning, what you have right now is just and necessary.
Enough of the philosophical gibberish though. I don’t have to read the history of Starbucks on Wikipedia to justify why cups of coffee there are so freakin’ costly. Off the top of my head, I’m quite sure it has to do with the quality of the coffee beans and the other ingredients that they use to concoct a fancy dark cherry mocha. Probably has to do with the careful shipping of those ingredients over here, too.
Let us say that a cup of Starbucks, in terms of all the labor and material things put into it, has a justified price: does that instantly eliminate the question of injustice?
I personally don’t think so. A cup of Starbucks coffee doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is located inside history, which is a nerdy way of saying that there are other things connected with that cup; for instance, the lives of the Starbucks staff who mixed the ingredients, the farmers who grew the ingredients, people who sip the cup, and the passersby who look on as others sip that cup. A cup of Starbucks coffee is inside an intricate mesh of lives.
I’d like to believe that all things, all lives, no matter how remote, are interconnected together. They are interconnected together because we can all identify ourselves as part of the same species: we are all human beings.
From this perspective, you’ve got to ask yourself: how can I sip this extravagant cup of coffee when other people in the world are dying of hunger?
Lots of people hate this kind of reasoning, and it’s very clear why. It’s like you’re jumping lightyears of connections and associations to arrive at this statement. In other words, how on earth can anyone connect sipping a cup of coffee with people dying of hunger?
But there is a relation. To deny that there is no relation between these two phenomena is to be a hypocrite. The truth is, some people sip high-priced (or possibly overpriced) cups of coffee while other people die of hunger. That fact, along with many other facts in the world, speaks of the everyday injustices we ignore to live comfortably.