In case this column hasn’t made it abundantly clear: I really like coffee. I’ve gone to coffee shops all over the country, and even some in other countries. I’ve been to chains, had it at gas stations, and even gotten it from McDonald’s a few times. And of course, I’ve been to local coffee shops.
Now, the thing about smaller, local coffee shops is that there is a certain level of pretentiousness that comes with them. It’s just a part of the vibe that you get when you shop local. It’s usually subtle, the barista is a little smug, the decor is obnoxious, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly, but there’s almost always something there.
That’s not to say that pretentiousness is bad. The band LCD Soundsystem is pretentious; they’ve even joked about this before. Just because they’re pretentious doesn’t mean that they haven’t released several phenomenal albums. Just because James Murphy is confident in his musical ability doesn’t mean that the song “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down” isn’t one of the greatest songs ever written.
But at the same time, just because something is pretentious doesn’t mean that it’s good. In fact, overcompensating on pretentiousness can hinder the quality of something. Take the movie “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” for example. Zack Snyder is a very talented cinematographer, and he has made good movies before. But “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” was absolutely terrible.
Snyder was convinced that he was telling an epic, almost biblical story, where Batman was mankind, and Superman was Jesus. Comparing Superman to Jesus is probably the laziest thing that you can do in a Superman movie.
Furthermore, the film loads itself with unnecessary edginess, features a Batman that uses guns and kills people, and has some of the worst dialogue that I have ever heard in my entire life. (Batman yells at Superman, “tell me, do you bleed,” and then after Superman flies away, he mumbles under his breath, “you will.” This had the same energy as someone yelling, “yeah, you walk away,” after a bigger guy refuses to fight them.
The movie isn’t that bad, but the egotistical nature of how it’s written hinders my enjoyment of it. Stop pretending like you’re something more than you are. You’re a movie where Batman and Superman punch each other, and then it ends with Wonder Woman showing up to fight a grey CGI monster. You don’t have to pretend like you’re Inferno.
And that, ultimately, is how I feel about Creative Coffee. The postmodern decor, the fancy menu, even the website screams pretentious. And that’s not a problem. The issue, however, is when your coffee is just slightly above average, but your demeanor suggests that you’ve reinvented the wheel.
Ultimately I cannot tell if this is authentic. Did the owners of Creative choose to be the way they are because they genuinely like the style of decoration, or did they choose it to be that way because they thought it would sell to the average neoliberal worker who comes into town to work a 9-5 desk job at UPMC. Or maybe I’m just cynical and overthinking what was ultimately a decent but pricey cup of coffee.