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Joan Treistman

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Selling Coffee in Plain English

November 6, 2012

What the Los Angeles Times dubbed "coffee confusion" is being deconstructed by British department store chain Debenhams. Following a survey, the store has rewritten its menu in plain English. Would converting to plain-speak actually help coffee sales in the U.S. or would something important be lost in the process?      [more...]


I am constantly amazed at the wording of orders placed by customers at Starbucks. I still work out my request with the deliberation I used for solving equations. So there's me and then everyone else who has learned the language of coffee. Simple language could work for some of our foreign tourists, but wait...much of coffee talk is universal.

I think the fancy jargon adds to the cache of those who enjoy cache. It also provides a sense of customization that shoppers don't experience in other venues. So bottom line I don't see the upside for translating latte to frothy milk.

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