Skip to content

Dear Maha Coffee,

**Content Warning: Contains juvenile humour. Also, masturbation but that’s not my fault.**

Dear Maha Coffee,

I was driving down South Lamar a few days and your window sign caught my eye. It made me think about the late 90s and French Connection’s fcuk campaign. French Connection United Kingdom. Get it? Someone in the branding department spotted the potential from a piece of corporate letterhead and a huge ad campaign, fcuk fashion, was born.. That double-take acronym got stamped onto every piece of clothing from 1997 onwards. Laddish Zoe Ball types wore the t-shirt with angry combat pants and boots.  Oasis wannabes wore them with parkas and a Liam Gallagher scowl. Erik and I fell into neither category but I had the ‘cool as fcuk’ t-shirt and Erik had ‘possibly the best fcuk ever’. The novelty value wore off fairly quickly in the UK, but when we moved to Texas in 2000 our shirts still drew a lot of attention. Especially in our WhoVille cul-de-sac in Bee Caves.

We weren’t in England when French Connection moved into the fragrance market, with fcuk him and fcuk her, nor the brief foray into bug spray with FCUK OFF (which I may or not have just made up). So when I saw your window sign I wondered if French Connection had ever tried Go FCUK Yourself. Probably not.

Having lived in Austin for over 20 years we don’t double-take at a lot of things these days. But driving by, we both saw your sign and were quiet for a moment, wondering why our brains had read it that way and wondering if the other had done the same. Thank god Erik said it first. Your new sign did indeed read:
Meditate
CAFFEINATE
MASTURBATE

Honestly, I was always a fan of your original sign:
WE
ARE
OPEN

As someone with a few years marketing experience, I can tell you that WE ARE OPEN is a pretty good window sign. It has that clever dual aspect that you are open in both a physical business and metaphysical universe sense. Great for Austin. Great for a coffee shop with a yoga studio attached. But I suppose not such a good option for out of hours, when you’re actually closed.

Before we get into this, I freely admit that I am a weird mixture of English prude and puerile schoolboy. I still have a very juvenile response to Fingerling Potatoes and to Lady Fingers, and if you offer me a knob of butter I’ll probably have to leave the table. But I’m puzzled by your new window on many levels.

As a writer, I’m disappointed that you didn’t go for a clever pun or some sort of witty wordplay. Yes, all three words end in —ate but really, that’s it? And why are they in this order? You’re a coffee shop, so the Caffeinate part definitely makes sense. But why list it second? Why is Meditation first? Public meditators are about as popular as public masturbators. Do it in the privacy of the yoga studio, not where people are trying to eat and drink. I could make a joke here about meditation being a load of old wank but I’ll save it. See also: journeys of self exploration.

But to get to the real point, why Masturbate? And why force people  to see it before they even order? Are you promoting it, offering it, or just trying to weed out us fuddy’s? Is your window art more of a jolt than your single shot? And don’t people come in and ask to see the menu? Is a hand shandy even on there? What if they don’t ask and just get straight on with it? So many questions. I don’t think you thought this through properly but fortunately for you, I’ve spend a lot of time on this and have a brilliant alternative.  

Meditate
CAFFEINATE
MASTICATE

Wow! Right? Masticate as in chew food or bite and grind stuff with your teeth. It’s perfect for a gluten free bakery. And a brilliant bit of wordplay. Think about people driving by and seeing MEDITATE, CAFFEINATE, MASTICATE, and doing a double take because they thought they’d read Masturbate. How they would have laughed when they realized their error. FCUKing brilliant. And come on, what about the branding possibilities? T-shirts, hats, masks, tissues. Here’s a few freebies to get you started:

Have You Masticated Today?
I Masticated at Maha
My Daily Mastication
I Masticated on a Cinammon Roll

People are going to go crazy for this stuff.

Okay, okay, so maybe you don’t like masticate. Maybe it makes you think of cows, and cows make you think of slaughter. I get it but are you really that hot on Masturbate? It’s such a formal, clinical word. I don’t think it works in a casual coffee shop setting. Try being a bit more informal and see where that takes you. What about focusing on an attitude of gratitude? You could try Wank and Thank. Or maybe promote the giving back elements of your business with Suck and Succour. I’m just spitballing (no, don’t use that) and I don’t even work for you.

And here’s my other problem. I’m married to a graphic designer and font guru/nerd so I’ve been trained on all this typography stuff, and your choice of the Keep on Truckin’ font is all wrong. It’s not putting me in the mood to meditate or masturbate. You might as well have chosen the cartoony Comic Sans and pretended it was ironic. But more than that, I’m confused by Meditate being in sentence case but Caffeinate and Masturbate in all caps. What’s the message here? Are you indicating relative importance? Or recommending pairings. Which of these two goes better with Caffeinating? That’s a lot to ask of a Barista, on top of dealing with all the spilling of gluten-free seeds, etc. 

It probably comes as no surprise that I won’t be visiting your coffee shop.. But having read your reviews, it seems that at least one reviewer left feeling one hundred percent satisfied. And as the onanists say, one is all you need. So I’m guessing that your sign will stay and I’ll keep pointing it out to people. 

Support local businesses. And don’t forget to Masticate.