- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 10, 2005

It’s impossible to get away from politics these days, even while sipping your morning brew.

A recent Zogby poll found the coffee you drink likely reflects where you sit within America’s political and cultural divide. It’s what the Zogby folks call “The Starbucks Divide.”

As it goes, the folks who drink Starbucks’ coffee differ mightily from those who drink Dunkin Donuts’. Starbucks’ drinkers are primarily under 50. Liberals and progressives — shocking I know — are twice as likely to drink Starbucks.

The divide breaks down among the sexes, too. While men prefer Dunkin’ Donuts over Starbucks (36 percent to 28 percent), women prefer Starbucks by a much wider margin (40 percent to 24 percent).

“Men,” for purposes of this poll, refers to fellows who still know how to change the sparkplug in their lawn mowers and would sooner be chained to the soap aisle in Bed, Bath and Beyond than be forced to utter bastardized Starbucks Latin when ordering a lousy cup of coffee.

The Starbucks Divide reflects other interesting fault lines. Folks in larger cities overwhelmingly prefer Starbucks while those in rural areas prefer for Dunkin Donuts. In other words, Starbucks drinkers went for John Kerry and the Dunkin’ Donuts crowd leaned for George W. Bush.

Since I spent the previous week sitting in a Starbucks in Fairfax, Va. — I don’t like the company, but need a place to access wireless when on the road — I decided to bounce my own observations against the findings of the Zogby poll.

There is something decidedly different about a Starbucks customer. While folks of every stripe pass through Starbucks’ doors, the attributes of the typical customer are telling.

Frequently a woman — or a man who gets his hair primped — moves with a shiftiness and uneasiness common to addicts of every kind. Make no mistake, caffeine is a drug and is addictive, and Starbucks products are loaded with it.

According to the anti-everything Center for Science in the Public Interest, a large Starbucks coffee — I’ll eat my head before I utter the word “venti” — has 550 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of 12 cans of Coke.

And when a Starbucks junky orders her caffeine fix, she doesn’t do it as regular people always have in cafes and diners across America (“I’ll have a cup of coffee, Delores, and a donut”) but with a description more complicated than a Kerry statement.

“I’ll have a venti mocha frappuccino with a double shot of espresso, extra cream (they spell it “crme,” the twits) and a touch of cinnamon.”

The tone in which typical Starbucks customers place their orders is eerily familiar. I heard it spill out of Michael Moore during the presidential campaign. You can hear it in the badgering shouts of protesters who daily agitate recovering soldiers at the Walter Reed Medical Center.

It’s the “I’m smarter than you are so shut up” tone that fills the coffers at moveon.org and is the basis for Al Franken’s inanity. It’s a shame, too, because Mr. Franken used to be funny, but that was before, probably, a heavy dose of Starbucks caffeine caused him to get lost in the narrowness of his own ideas.

There should be no shock here that liberals chug Starbucks while conservatives sip Dunkin Donuts. Starbucks hails from Seattle, Wash., the land of the disaffected hippie. Some of those hippies became technology millionaires, and their money now funds various left-leaning causes of every kind.

To be sure, Starbucks has long contributed to numerous liberal causes — Planned Parenthood, homosexual rights, etc, etc. — but has never dropped one cent, to my knowledge, to support any program or cause that could be considered “conservative.”

Even the quotes on Starbucks’ paper cups, part of the company’s “The Way I See It” campaign, are decidedly left-leaning. Of all the actors, athletes and performers quoted, only one, Jonah Goldberg, has been a conservative.

In any event, the Zogby folks are on to something. Their Starbucks Divide articulates something I sensed but was unable to put my finger on, and that is this:

You can’t avoid politics anywhere these days, even while sipping your morning brew.

TOM PURCELL

Columnist

Read Tom’s latest column by clicking www.TomPurcell.com


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