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Coffee Names

Ordering fancy-pants coffee in Mexico presents a very minor challenge at places that ask for your name to write on the cup of your impending tasty beverage. Although I go by “Julie”, I usually tell the coffee gods that my name is “Julia” [Hoo-lee-uh], both to avoid the confusion that results when you pronounce J’s in English while talking in Spanish, and because my real name is Julia so I feel it is a valid option.

Others take a different tactic. My husband’s name is John. Again, we enounter the J problem. When he introduces himself to people in Mexico, he usually presents himself as “Juan” [Hwahn].

However, John recently disclosed to me that he has an entirely different Coffee Name. When he visits his nearby Starbucks, he often introduces himself as “Cuauhtémoc”. [roughly pronounced Kwou-tay-mahk]

For those of you who’ve not heard this name, let’s just say it is all over the place in Mexico. It is a neighborhood in DF (where the US Embassy is located, in fact). There is a Cuauhtemoc metro stop, at least one Avenida Cuauhtemoc, and probably a few dozen other Cuauhtemoc-related streets. Some Mexican men also carry this name. All of this Cuauhtemoc adoration stems from the Aztec leader of the same name, who ruled Tenochtitlan in the 1500’s and was tortured at the hands of Cortés.

Anyway, whenever I need a good belly laugh, all I have to do is picture John in his suit & tie in line at Starbucks, having the following conversation:

Barista, pen & coffee cup in hand: “¿Como se llama?”

John, totally serious: “Cuauhtémoc.”

Barista, staring blankly at the tall gringo standing at their counter: “Cuauhtémoc. Claro.”  [insert mumbling under breath here]

This chair most certainly does not depict Cuauhtémoc, but I like to think the photo does depict the seriousness with which John claims to be named that.

This chair most certainly does not depict Cuauhtémoc, but I like to think the photo does depict the seriousness with which John claims to be named that.

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10 Comments on “Coffee Names”

  1. #1 Joy
    on Nov 18th, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Brilliant! I think I’ll start using Itzaccihuatl…or Dolores Hidalgo.

    (Seriously, though, dinner reservation tonight is for Sra. Victoria because I long ago gave up on Joy.)

  2. #2 Julie
    on Nov 18th, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Ha! Yeah, you totally win for “unpronounceable name in Spanish”. “Hoy” just doesn’t have the same elegant ring to it that Joy does in English.

  3. #3 Refried Dreamer
    on Nov 18th, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    I want a coffee name!!!! Hubby can just use his real name… nobody believes him anyways… Arnulfo. haha… (awful-waffle if I’m pissy.)

    I love it.

  4. #4 nashely
    on Nov 18th, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Hahaahaha wow I love it ! This is the laugh I needed all day! Love your blog, I’ve been reading for a while but never commented. Or so I think. Anywho, this post reminded me of when I go to starbucks … My name is Nashely but pronounced Nayeli. There is always a barista that asks how to spell my name so I start with my sh and they look at me confused or later when they call me they say “uhh Nnn … Ashley?” So at times I’ll be in line and just say whatever name comes to mind. One day I was “Margarita” :)

  5. #5 Michael Wolf
    on Nov 18th, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    My wife calls me Miguel most of the time, but these days I typically introduce myself as Michael. This is a newish policy, though, and sometimes I forget. So sometimes it turns into “Migue… esteee Michael”. Not very suave.

    In restaurants where they take names before seating people, we usually go by Familia López or Familia Ochoa, which are legitimate translations, in Spanish and Basque respectively, of my real surname. Even though that’s only four letters long, most people here mispronounce two of them, sometimes three. I try to avoid that when I can.

  6. #6 T.R. Krier
    on Nov 19th, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Too Funny! Julie I adore the blog! I have had a similar experience here in China where R’s are not pronounced as they would be in English so Iam now known as Tia.I may go John’s route on this and take a new name. Mao or Red Lobster Yellow Lobster can’t decide……

  7. #7 Auntie C in DC
    on Nov 19th, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Jules–I nearly choked on my non-Starbucks coffee just now reading your post; clearly your belly laugh is contagious. Your story reminds me of when I was a 3rd grader taking Spanish in NYC. My teacher “renamed” us with Spanish names, and my Sanskrit name was transformed into “Carlotta.” Much easier for ordering a tall eggnog latte. Miss you both and sending you mucho love.

  8. #8 Coffee Names – Midwesterner in Mexico | Arabic names
    on Nov 19th, 2009 at 7:51 am

    [...] here:  Coffee Names – Midwesterner in Mexico Share and [...]

  9. #9 Julie
    on Nov 19th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    haha thanks to all for sharing your similarly awkward foreign country name stories. :) TR– I particularly like your manly Chinese name of Tia.
    Nashley/Chhaya- I remember well my 9th grade Spanish name of Margarita!! I also remember giggling whenever the teacher called on the twins in our class– two big tall dudes who were going by “Pancho” and “Guido”. :)

  10. #10 Laura
    on Oct 19th, 2010 at 1:52 am

    Cuauhtémoc!!!! OMG! I LOVED that! I can imagine the scene now. Oh by the way, the guy depicted in that chair is none other than Pancho Villa. Famous revolutionary.

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