In the early days of consumerism, products sold were mostly physical objects like fridges, washing machines, cars, etc. As more and more people acquired these objects and as more competitors began offering them, there had to be a way for producers to differentiate themselves from the competition and also to encourage people to keep consuming. Hence the experience economy was born in which products purchased were not only physical objects but also intangibles or experiences. These types of products could be consumed over and over again, enabling constant market expansion. Movies, music, fashion and tourism are obvious examples of experience economy products, but they still don't provide consumers with an experience to consume every single day of their lives. So what's the market to do?
The libidinal caffeine economy fills this void. But it didn't emerge fully fledged until the 21st century. In the nineties, even waiters at Pizza Hut received sexual attention but I'm afraid those lusty early days are now over. Consumers are demanding quality, and a large Hawaiian with extra pineapple (hold the ham) won't cut it anymore! But the libidinal caffeine economy is not only consumer-driven, it is also producer-driven. Since dressing fashionably will only get you an extra point on the Hotness Scale, people of average looks who want to punch above their weight need only to get a job as a barista in Melbourne and can expect to go up 3-4 points with ease. For example, if you're a 6 out of 10, expect to be treated like at least a 9 while making coffee. This is critical because unlike the Richter Scale, the Hotness Scale is not logarithmic, so you really need to go up at least 3 points for it to make a noticeable difference.
The barista crush is now a central aspect of everyday life in Melbourne. It is the great equaliser - spanning genders, sexualities, ages and incomes. Barista crushes form at an early age. High school white kids (Trainee White Melburnians) are currently shifting nervously and giggling their way around Coffee Clubs and Gloria Jean'ses all over Chadstone, Southland and Knox, while the Trainees lucky enough to be living near Northland(s) are simply waiting for White Melbourne to come to them.
If you're gay, you get to debate with your friends if your barista is also gay, assessing all the arguments for and against. If you're straight, you get to debate with your friends if your barista is also straight (assessing all the arguments for and against). Then the debate can move on to 'is he/she single' or if you see your barista outside of work - what to do? Assess. Did you say hi? Did you ask him/her out for a drink? Why not? White Melburnians get to tell themselves they didn't chicken out. They'll say they didn't want to make it awkward the next time they get coffee. That way, white Melburnians get to sustain their crushes throughout their careers. The trick is to remember that any detail, no matter how minor or insignificant, is a valuable piece of evidence and worthy of lengthy discussion. This is a way to prolong the crush way after its normal expiry date. A hint: if your barista comes around the counter to greet you, you're in. If he comes on the counter he's a creep and you should go elsewhere for your coffee.
The barista crush even crosses over into broader Melbourne culture so it cannot be said to exist solely within White Melbourne. But White Melburnians take the barista crush to another level. Rather than being a moment of difference in their average day, white Melburnians base their entire 9 to 5 career around their ten minute coffee break in which they get to ogle and/or make small talk with their barista. We have to thank Starbucks for making the word 'barista' mainstream because lusting after a 'kitchenhand' or 'coffee maker' sounds a little pathetic. And that whole joke about your new born baby being 'the postman's' is pathetically out of date! What you really should be asking yourself is if the baby resembles your wife's barista.