“Can I have a cappuccino with no milk?”
My head shoots up, fingers poised over the sticky till. The air is hot both with the steam from the coffee machine, and the fire in the gazes of the disgruntled people in the ever-growing queue. It’s matting my hair. “Huh?”
He looks at me like I’m a first class moron, and repeats his request like he’s talking to a toddler who’s had a bang on the head. “A. Cappuccino. With. No. Milk.”
Now, for all you non-experts out there, fluffy texturised milk is a key component of a cappuccino. Without it, it would just be a black coffee. So what on earth does this guy mean? Sadly, I’m a minimum wage worker and therefore not allowed to express my true feelings, so instead I plaster a fake smile onto my face and pray it doesn’t look too much like a grimace. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean?”
Needless to say, the level of sexual attraction I’m currently feeling is zero. In fact I’m pretty sure my lady garden has a sign out front that reads CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE, TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED. John Taylor himself could join this queue and ask me on a date and I think my answer would be: “Yeah. Whatever. Do you need any sugar?”
Which is why the concept of the coffee shop AU fascinates me. I think for some people a coffee shop is a place of warmth and comfort. Like a moist warm bed of earth, a prime spot to grow the best flowers, to sow the seeds for any relationship. Or maybe more people are into feederism than I realised, and it’s just a way of sneaking chocolate cake into the proceedings. Regardless, it’s a popular fanfiction scenario, and one I can’t relate to at all.
Working in a coffee shop is demanding, uncomfortable and underpaid work. Everyone burns themselves on the regular, and most customers see you as an extension of the shop, and treat you like a dodgy bit of machinery. Giving you a verbal bash to make you ‘work right’. We stand all day, and by the end your feet are in agony. More than once I’ve hobbled to the bus stop and considered riding the loop bus for an hour or until I can bear to stand.
To be honest, that’s the only realistic coffee shop AU there could be—a handsome, exhibitionist foot fetishist gives a tired barista a foot massage on public transport. Exhilarating. Erotic.
I’ve no issue with people enjoying those fics by the way. Just know that if you ever do say the words “Going my way?” to a barista, they’ll probably be contemplating whether or not their job is worth the joy it would be to tell you to take a walk into traffic.
The guy meant he only wanted froth on his cappuccino, by the way. Which, okay, fair enough, a cappuccino does have smooth milk and froth because of how it’s poured. But, guess what the froth is made of?!
So, you see. No romance here.
Chloe is a former barista and writer who was born in Leeds, England. An avid Yoko Ono fan, she co-hosts the Beatles podcast All About The Girl.