Coffee Names: Fake aliases for when baristas butcher ethnic names

A classic example of a misspelt Indian name. Source: Shami Sivasubramanian

Do you have a 'coffee name'? Australians with ethnic names often opt for a fake name when ordering coffee or takeaways, rather than have theirs mispronounced or misspelt.

Ordering a morning coffee in a busy café can be difficult for anyone, but it becomes especially difficult when you have a name baristas seem unable to understand.

Many people opt for a 'coffee name', usually a short Anglo-Saxon name like Jack or Jess, or an Anglo-Saxon name that sounds similar to their real non-Anglo-Saxon name.

The idea of a 'coffee name' is not unique to Australia, with social media posts of mangled names being shared by coffee lovers in the United States and United Kingdom.

It appears the number one culprit for misspelt names, especially non-Anglo-Saxon names, is Starbucks, though plenty of hipster establishments are guilty too.

Brisbane iced soy latte drinker Louvel Yapali goes by Belle, as she says when she gives out her real name she is often faced with questions about where she is “from”.

"If I say my name I've had Adele, Laurel, or they just don't even attempt to call out my name, they just say the order," she said.

Sydney SBS reporter Shaambavi Sivasubramanian orders her skinny cappuccino under Charmaine or Swami.

“Sometimes I tell them my actually name, and just see how crazy they can get,” she said.

Brisbane take-away fan Enosh Lowi Neville uses his real name, but has to spell it out every time.

SBS Online Science Editor Signe Dean says goes by Kate when ordering coffee or take away.

Unfortunately, bias against ethnic names extends beyond well-intentioned baristas.

A study by the Australian National University found people with ethnic names are less likely to be called in for job interviews, even if they have the exact same resumes as job seekers with Anglo-Saxon names.

The research by Alison Booth, Andrew Leigh, and Elena Varganova, showed job seekers with Chinese, Middle Eastern, Italian, and Indigenous Australian names were significantly less likely to get job interviewers than those with Anglo-Saxon names.

“It certainly suggests Anglicising your name increases the chance of getting a job interview,” Professor Leigh said.

In the study, applicants with Chinese names had to put in 68 per cent more job applications than those with Anglo-Saxon names.

Source SBS

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