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What’s Your Starbucks Name?

Pat Kiernan, the morning anchor at the NY1 cable news channel in New York (and, incidentally, the host of VH1’s World Series of Pop Culture a few years back), is doing something with which anyone who’s a regular at a certain ubiquitous coffee chain will identify. Based on a friend-of-a-friend’s idea, he’s asking people to send him pictures of Starbucks cups with their names butchered by the barista. He’s calling it “Starbucks: Where No One Knows Your Name.”

Now, I can only imagine that not everyone falls victim to name-butchering at Starbucks. They can’t screw up “John” or “Bob” or “Chris,” can they? Maybe they can, but you need to have a name that’s easily misheard to get the real Starbucks Name treatment. A name like, oh, say, “Perry,” which they’ll turn into “Terry,” “Penny,” “Larry,” and practically anything BUT “Perry,” even though I habitually spell it out. Why I don’t just give them “Bob,” I don’t know. But if I go there — good thing I don’t drink coffee, so it’s only for the occasional tea or hot chocolate — I have to listen carefully for whatever name they’ve assigned to me. It’s never actually MY name.

Pat’s first day of viewer/reader submissions include Erica spelled “Ecria” and Phoebe as “Feebe” and “Phobia.” I didn’t know they had an auto-correct problem there. Send him your pictures at [email protected], but you can also reveal the various Starbucksian manglings of your name in the comments right here.

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  1. Sean says:

    I use the name, Joaquin at Starbucks. Various baristas have spelled my name as, Wakin, Walkeen, Jawkeen, just to mention a few. This is understandable with such a uncommon name. However, my daughter, Cassidy? They have spelled her name as, Casi, Cassi, Kassiaday, and Kassaday.

  2. Alexis Fritz says:

    Well I once went into Starbucks saying I was the doctor. They said doctor who? And I replied with just the doctor. She looked at me strangely while another women in the back laughed and understood. Another time I said I was Madame de pompadour. I am a big doctor who fan lol.

  3. Margaux says:

    I think I have, by far, one of the worst Starbucks name interpretation all over the world. My parents gave me a French name, Margaux (pronounce Margo) and everytime I order a Starbucks, it just feels like I totally pronounced it wrong (and I can tell you that I’m sure that, after 15 years of repeating and spelling it to everybody… I’m sure I know how to say it correctly).. The last time they wrote it Margarx. It strangely sounds like an alien name.

  4. Jililan says:

    I live in Mexico at the moment. NO one ever gets my name, even if I write it down for them. I think they’re under the impression that I’m misspelling my name, because after very plainly separating J i l l i a n, they still write Jullian, a man’s name, with two Ls. I gave up and made up a Mexican name. I told them to write “Juli” or “Juliana” (Yu-lee or Hu-liana). They write July. Apparently I’m a month.

  5. Lovers of Pat Kiernan in NYC can enjoy an ultimate pop culture trivia event hosted by pat on Wed. Jan 25th in Brooklyn!

  6. jessica says:

    Apparently today the girl taking orders felt like I was a pirate. I am now Jessi ar

  7. Aidan says:

    I have seen Andy, Aden, Eden, Adien, Adin and many more. I now just say “Harriet Jones-former prime minister”. Once this guy looked up and said “yeah, we know who you are.” That made my day, and even if they don’t get it, the confused look on the barista’s face is sooo worth it.

  8. Panda says:

    In the podcast You Look Nice Today episode “Truck Spank,” they discuss this problem. They start about 20 minutes in, and decide that words with hard consonants are the best, making Truck Spank the ideal name for Starbucks orders. On their Flickr page, people send in pictures of cups with their “latte names” on them, deliberately absurd nouns, to avoid having their own names accidentally destroyed maliciously. The set is here:

  9. Bri says:

    I can’t even remember the last time I was at a Starbucks and they asked for my name & wrote it on the cup, I didn’t think they did that anymore (but I usually don’t visit at peak times).

    Years ago at a Starbucks in Phoenix I told them my name was Brittany and I got back a cup that said “Brintenny,” though.

  10. Artie says:

    It’s funny because English majors can’t spell!

  11. Alex says:

    This is pretty interesting. The Starbucks I work at just recently told us to stopped putting names on cups and I wonder if complaints have had something to do with it. We still are told to put them on the sandwich bags, so I don’t understand the logic. If we have a particularly difficult name to pronounce we usually just call what the sandwich is.

    I find it ridiculous that people can get so offended about mispronounced names. That’s not even to mention how entitled get about their drinks. It’s coffee, people. Settle down. Sure, you paid close to 5 dollars for it, but the right to bitch about insignificant inconveniences isn’t included in the price.

  12. Andre says:

    Not at starbucks but at einstein bros on campus my name is always either written as Andrea or Andrew. I used to correct them but now I’ve just resigned myself to these bastardized versions of my name.

  13. Nic says:

    Ha! I totally thought this story was going a different direction, but whatever. When my friend Taylor and I go to Starbucks or anywhere that asks us for our names we usually just make one up or use our “coffee aliases” his is Rock-o (he tells them how to spell it and they still usually write rocco) and mine in Norberg… (which are you kidding me? there is no way they ever get that right)

    It’s kind of even funnier nowadays because Taylor works at a Starbucks…

  14. Lucy says:

    Pat Kiernan! Vh1 needs to bring back The World Series of Pop Culture stat.

  15. Kat says:

    my full name is Katherine … after getting Katlyn, Katerina, etc etc I started using my nickname of Kat. I havent had them screw Kat up yet.

  16. cecilia says:

    sislia, ceilia, cesilia, ceecileya. there’s too many list.

  17. Joey says:

    For the purists/super sticklers out there, Swarley was actually season two of HIMYM. Just saying.

  18. Christina says:

    Once they put Kristen. But then another time, I ordered a chai tea, which is CH on the cup, but the girl wrote it sloppily, so it looked like CM for caramel macchiato. But being the passive aggressive that I am, I just drank it and complained about it on Twitter.

  19. smartbunny says:

    I don’t drink coffee but can I say… Pat Kiernan = yummy.

  20. Jessica says:

    Ah, the internet and it’s facilitation of random coincidence…

    I manage a blog written by international students in the US, and they were just talking this week about coming up with their “Starbucks name” or “restaurant name” – the name they give so they don’t have to deal with the server or barista going, “What?” a million times.

    “I was at a coffee shop with an Armenian friend of mine, and the person who took our order asked for a name to go along with it. I immediately said to myself, “No way am I about to spend half an hour going through ‘Nareg’ with this white American,” and then I looked at my friend. His name is “Shant.” I sighed and said, “Joe.” It was a coffee place, after all, and so “Joe” came naturally. Ever since, Joe has been my “restaurant name” in the States.”

  21. Courtney says:

    swarles barkley! haha. i love that episode of HIMYM

  22. JE Smith says:

    “How I Met Your Mother” did this gag in their first season. Barney became “Swarley.” Good episode.

  23. HCLatte says:

    As a former Barista working at the bar, I made a drink and called it out, “I have a venti nonfat mocha for… uh… Ditzy?”

    Dixie thought it was pretty funny.

  24. Chelsea, not Chelsie says:

    My name is Chelsea but Starbucks frequently spells it Chelsie or the ever popular Chelsey. My name is not that uncommon. Course I threw them off once. Told them my name was Starbuck. I’d been watching way too much BSG, the barista looked at me like I was wonko. I laughed really hard.

  25. Chris, with no K says:

    I had Chris spelled with a K a couple of weeks ago. “Kris” does not equal “Chris”. I’ve also told them “Chris” and received “Christ” on the cup. Tried to fill those shoes that day and it just went down hill…