The boy featured in this article’s title image is twelve years old. By now, he is old enough to do plenty of things. But should drinking coffee be one of them? If you ask me, the answer is no.
What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Keep reading.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to pay my neighborhood Starbucks a visit. Just as I was getting out of my car, a boy — who could not have been older than twelve — on a bicycle appeared right before my eyes.
Ordinarily, the fact that he was all by himself and not wearing a helmet would have bothered me; however, something else immediately rubbed me the wrong way. Only one of the boy’s hands was clutching the handlebars. The other was holding onto a Frappuccino — from which he took sporadic sips, as he leisurely pedaled his way down a residential street.
Sure, his drink may have been crème-based. But what was this preteen doing in Starbucks to begin with? The international coffeehouse chain has never struck me as being the least bit kid-friendly; nevertheless, despite its sophisticated carte du jour and steep prices, it continues to attract a younger clientele.
Since it is kitty-corner to a middle school, the location of this particular Starbucks may be to blame. In fact, you can bet your bottom dollar that, during before and after school hours, its cashiers and baristas interact with tons of children between the ages of twelve and fifteen.
Did I start drinking coffee that early? No way, José! I do not think I even acquired a taste for it until I was nineteen or twenty.
When it comes to youngsters, I cannot help but wonder if this is all just another fad. Do they buy Starbucks products to emulate their best friends, older siblings, and favorite celebrities? Have they, therefore, come to associate the brand with that which is cool? One thing is for sure: these days, children are constantly searching for ways to act older and appear wiser.
In my opinion, twelve-year-olds ride bikes for two obvious reasons: they are too old to be pushed in strollers and too young to drive cars. And there is no need for them to drink coffee before getting their driver’s licenses.
Image credit: Trina Alexander
Jared Scott Tesler is a Rochester-area freelance writer.