Once upon a time, the stars in my Greater Miami map were cafecito counters where I would stop for a fix of the thick, aromatic elixir of my Cuban-American existence.
It was the only coffee in town worth drinking.
Then, in the late 1990s, came Starbucks — and the cappuccinos and dark French Roast were love at first taste, a revolution that made American coffee competitive with my Cuban colada.
I made room in my soul and palate for both.
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Just like the Cuban barista delivered a dose of cariño with my cortadito or café con leche, the Starbucks barista, too, embodied endearing qualities. She amused me by misspelling my name on the cup with increasing creativeness: Faviola. Saviola. Viola.
Better yet, she renamed me Lola — and that served to egg me on to play other people when I ordered my cup of joe. I tried on my daughters’ names, then moved on to literary characters. When I was writing a novel, I ordered my tall, double espresso cappuccino with my protagonist’s name. Made me feel so Flaubert. Madame Marisol, c’est moi!
In short, Starbucks appealed to the coffee-worshiping, storyteller in me. Product quality, responsible corporate citizenship, and the sight of a Starbucks abroad that soothed my pangs for home, kept me a patron.
Now, some of you want to ruin my treasured café experience by bringing in the nation’s divisive politics into the brew just because there’s a minimalist red theme to the holiday cups — an ombré from bright red to cranberry — and the Starbucks logo has been smoothed.
“Starbucks removed Christmas from the cups because they hate Jesus,” a former television and radio evangelist posted to 1.8 million followers on social media, launching the insanity.
First of all, the trademark hippie-looking gal on the cups was never Jesus.
She’s a 16th century Norse siren, an image meant to reference coffee’s seafaring history. She’s the muse to people who crowd Starbucks tables and counters with laptops and lattes.
Nobody is taking away our Christmas by way of a cup redesign — no matter how loudly the self-anointed arbiters of propriety cry foul.
“Maybe we should boycott Starbucks,” Donald Trump whined in a typical aimless rant Monday at a rally in Illinois in which he threatened to end the Starbucks lease at Trump Tower in Manhattan.
“If I become president, we’re all going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” the demagogue vowed.
As if any of us needed a politician to tell us how/when/if we celebrate Christmas.
I’d happily turn away from the loud-mouths — including the political-correctness patrol — and continue to enjoy my red Starbucks Christmas Blend while factions brew fake controversy. But there’s a bigger issue at play, a national hypercritical tug-of-war that sucks the pleasure out of everything, even a cup of coffee.
In the land of the free, religion has become an overbearing force in politics, driving the national conversation on a loop short on solutions and high on diatribe.
I draw the line when you mess with my coffee culture. Next thing you know, the trolling Donald and his followers will come after our cafecito counters, too.
Coffee lovers unite.
Sip and shout: Keep your political paws off my Starbucks!