Starbucks Ristretto Bianco

A story of me learning English

Created on
Writing Time
Reading Time
2 mins
Word Count
620 approx.

When I was a student, we often went to a Starbucks to do our school projects. I used to love the smell of coffee. Years later, as a grown adult, I seldom got myself a drink as a little treat for my hard work. Today, I want to share a story with you about an incident I had when I visited a shop a couple of years ago.

After few months of surfing the Fediverse, I noticed that quite a lot of bloggers are bilingual. Some of them are multilingual; they can speak more than two languages. I'll be honest with you: I thought I was one of the smart ones who could understand languages other than English. And of course, I was very wrong. How naive was I? 😎

Last week, I was scrolling through the timeline on Mastodon to look for any interesting people to follow and I came across a thread. Don’t worry, I’m not going to insert myself into other people’s businesses. Long story short, two individuals were having a conversation but somehow got into an argument. One of those claiming the other person made some spelling and grammatical mistakes.

I didn’t really care about what their conversation actually was, but I’m curious to know why a person assumes one must be good at English. Ironically, people who are being mean can somewhat speak only one language.

Back to the subject. I was never a coffee person, but I drink it because I need it. My story was nothing special. I ordered a cup of coffee at one of the shops. At the time, I didn’t know much about coffee. As a matter of fact, I don’t know any coffee names other than flat white, mocha, or cappuccino. I felt like I wanted to try something new, but I was not able to pronounce “Ristretto Bianco”. So, I pointed my finger at the menu, and the barista pronounced it loud and clear to make sure I know how to pronounce it correctly with a somewhat provocative attitude. I was distracted by something else and I didn’t pay attention to the person.

I got a very long receipt with a QR code on it for which if I finish an online survey I can redeem a free drink for my next visit. I was like “Sure, why not?” Then I filled in the form with a comment: “I will say coffee names in Teochew next time I place an order.” Later, I heard one of the baristas announce the coffee name in Cantonese. And I got my drink.

It actually happened a few years ago. I admit, this was kind of an underwhelming story. But you know, some people are being mean. I got my revenge in written words instead of verbal. Am I the Asshole?

Most foreigners that I have talked to were all very nice and polite. They will try to understood my English even when I was saying gibberish. However, the people who are mean are those who are Asian. We call them ABCs, or refer to people who have studied overseas and can speak fluent English. They can speak and understand Cantonese but refuse to. The reason is simple; they think they’re superior to people who don’t. That makes them feel good.

I think I have seen enough. Since then, I’ve been trying with my English. No hard feelings if it happens today. Meanwhile, I still don’t know how to pronounce “Ristretto Bianco”. I figured it wasn’t English but Italian. Should I be forgiven? You tell me. Anyway, see you next time!

This is #Day76 of #100DaysToOffload.


  1. American-born Chinese via Wikipedia. ↩︎