ZU Magazine is a publication of ZU Media. Below is an article from Issue 4, “Character.”
Staff Writer | Katrina Williams
We can all think of at least one person whose coffee order sounds something like this:
“I’ll have a venti, non-fat, decaf, soy, caramel macchiato, upside down, with an added shot and extra caramel drizzle.”
If this resembles your order, don’t be surprised if your baristas aren’t impressed. They hear this, and so much more, all the time. They spend every day of the week saying hello and goodbye to unique drinks. And as it turns out, they are judging you—in a very useful way, though.
Britni Killingsworth is the head manager at Hillside Grounds, Azusa Pacific’s coffee shop on West Campus. As a recent graduate of APU, and three-year coffee shop employee, Killingsworth openly admits to categorizing her customers in order to better serve them.
“You can more or less tell what a person wants or needs. When people ask for recommendations, part of our job is to actually read our customer,” Killingsworth said. “I’d say 90 percent of the time, we actually hit it right on the dot. You can pick out what people want fairly easily.”
In fact, studies show that different food preferences, clothing styles and even drink orders can reflect parts of an individual’s personality.
In a 2014 research study by clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, 1,000 coffee drinkers answered questions about their character based on fake scenarios. At the end of the questionnaire, they were asked their coffee drink order. The results reflected a correlation between certain personality types and coffee preferences.
Both Killingsworth and Durvasula’s study had similar conclusions about different coffee-drinker characteristics.
Let’s start with the most common: the latte drinkers. These people are generally warm and bubbly. They like to please people, so they tend to overcommit. They are generally pretty open about their lives and love to help others. The latte personality is common here at APU.
Next are the classic, plain, hot coffee drinkers. When these people come up to the counter, they seem to have a lot to do. They are simplistic, efficient and can sometimes be dismissive. In Durvasula’s study, classic coffee drinkers tested high in patience.
The classic coffee drinkers are close to, but not exactly the same as, americano, cold brew or black, iced coffee people. Unlike latte drinkers, these people are generally more health conscious. Killingsworth describes these people as “businessmen” or “bio students.” They appear set in their ways.
Those who seem to be close friends with the no-nonsense healthy people are the folks who order iced or hot teas. These people prefer natural, organic drinks. They like to relax, but also seem productive as they go throughout their day.
Perhaps the most entertaining of the coffee shop characters are the frappuccino drinkers and those with wildly specific orders (decaf, sugar-free, dairy-free, extra syrup and so on).
According to Killingsworth, frappuccino drinkers “are a whole different kind of people.” They are often kind and outgoing, but also individualistic. Even though they do not always make the healthiest choices, these people seem to be the most adventurous and imaginative.
Specific-order drinkers like to be in control. They are high-maintenance perfectionists who appear to be aware of their needs and wants. In Durvasula’s study, these people tested as focused and sensitive. In the midst of their plans, they worry instead of relaxing.
Even though assigning character traits based on what people drink may seem drastic, there are still reasons people have the preferences they do.
In Durvasula’s recent book, “You Are Why You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life,” she explains that her study was conducted to encourage people to break outside of their normal routines. She believes that if personal drink preferences are so clearly linked to a person’s character, then why not order something different? In doing this, you may discover a new part of yourself.