Coffee Snob Archetypes


Are you in denial about your coffee snobbery, or have snob envy, or like to hang around coffee snobs and their environs? Maybe you don’t have an alter-ego or a mask, but boldly admit you are a coffee snob right up front, deflecting any attempts by naive non-snobs to serve you inferior fare.  

     You are not alone. The world is full of millions of coffee snobs, drinking billions of cups of coffee…just how they like it. Herein lies the caffeinated epiphany: there is more than one kind of snob.  And this is where you ask yourself the same question fifteen-year-olds have been asking themselves for years: Where do I fit in?

        The key is in figuring out your coffee snob archetype. Archetypes are not just for comic books, superheroes and villains (And neither are black boots with gold lame` bikini shorts, for that matter. The red tights, however, are something else. Even if you can fly, have X-Ray vision, and harbor the power to leap over tall buildings or the neighbor’s Labradoodle, you might want to consider keeping the skin-sucking, primary color apparel under the bed in the “Just for Special Occasions” box).

“Avenger, get Birdman coffee!” 

    ~Hanna-Barbera, Birdman, Cartoon Network


And while each of us might not be able to pull off a wardrobe that reflects high concept personas, our types are reflected in our day-to-day choices, including leisure activities and what goes on the household bookshelves. Even favorite clichés and sayings that reflect ideals help to define us – “There’s no place like home,” “May the Force be with you,” “It’s sometimes difficult to think clearly when you’re strapped to a printing press.” 

     Our immersion in the coffee culture may be public or private or take place in the Bat Cave. Passions range from iced to steaming hot (talking coffee here, people; eyes on the text). Our proficiency, our experience with the phenom that is java may be likened to dog-paddling in the backyard above ground pool with plastic water wings, on up to swimming the English channel pulling a boat (for your barista to ride in, of course). The commonality is a love of coffee. The diversion is how much.  

I’m hooked so bad, I drink a couple of cups before I go to bed just to make it through all those boring dreams.”-   Stephen Colbert


You will in all likelihood fall into one of four archetypes: Groupie, Wannabe, Closet, GrandeIn no way are these personas meant to pigeonhole you into a loss of individuality or personal significance. Leave that to human cloning. Neither does aligning yourself with a particular epitome fully express your unique perspectives. Leave that to tattoos and bumper stickers. The following ascending kingdom archetypes are benchmarks. And, naturally, each has a subsequent snob division, class, order, family, and genus not currently available – mostly because of the coffee snob’s rapid rate of evolution.  Identifying with one or more archetypes is merely a starting point. Feel free to create your own subclass.     


Coffee Snob Groupies don’t necessarily stalk baristas or throw panties at the espresso machine. They’re one of many enthusiastic fans of the Coffee Culture Club who hold a torch – match, lighter, cell phone, if you will – for the lifestyle. They frequent quaint neighborhood shops seduced by the trendy interior design, the out-of-the-mainstream music, and the savory breakfast burritos. Mostly, they only inhale. But every once in a while the ubiquitous scent tempts them to partake in consumption: a chai tea latte here, an organic decaf cappuccino there. Coffee Snob Groupies don’t, however, have the stomach of a roadie. Neither are they one of the bands of regulars touring coffee shops around the world. They celebrate being part of the scene, with or without underwear. 

Coffee Snob Wannabes aspire to coffee-snob status.  Always striving to be a connoisseur, they gather at trendy cafes, glance quickly at the board before ordering a skinny latte, “no flavors please,” dust off their chair, and then wait in anticipation.  (Admit it wannabes, while standing in line, you study the tips on how to brew the perfect cup and ponder the various roasts.)  As one eager to learn, they know the difference between barista and barrister and can pronounce Macchiato (but without an accent).  Although they purchase the best ground coffee, use cold, lively-running tap water, and precisely measure the grounds for their morning Joe, the whirr of a coffee grinder is never heard in their kitchen.   A Coffee Snob Wannabe asks, “To grind or not to grind?”  A true Coffee Snob asks, “To blade or to burr?”  It is only when surrounded by authentic Coffee Snobs with their repertoire of all things coffee, do Wannabes recognize their naiveté. Undaunted, they know there’s always tomorrow, always another café.


Closet Coffee Snobs act like they don’t care if the beans are freshly ground but secretly, under layers of denial, they wonder.  When offered a cup of coffee they say, “Sure, thanks,” but want to ask what kind it is.  If they are pushed to answer why they remain in the closet they would have to admit that although they hate pretentiousness, they are pretentious about their coffee, and they are just a little embarrassed by it. Closet snobs don’t want to offend anyone so they will hide their discerning palate or the jargon to articulate what they like.  The truth is they know what they like and they want it. It isn’t easy being a Closet Snob, but every discriminate sip is worth it – just don’t mention it to anyone. 

Grande! Coffee Snobs offer no apologies. No compromises. No settling for less than your loftiest expectations. Your nose is held high with nostrils flared, stimulated by satisfaction. You’ve climbed up through the clouds and mist to the tallest mountain and seen the light. You shout from the summit of snobbery: I am coffee snob, hear me brew. Below you the monkeys swing from the trees in admiration of your elevated status. You look down, knowingly. You understand the evolution of the seed once nestled inside the fruit, the cherry, as you, too, have evolved your seed of wisdom. You are one with the bean.


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