Pop psychology loves to talk about projection. Any explosion of finger-pointing and shaming, the thinking goes, is really just anxiety about one's own shortcomings. The next time you hear someone nagging the youths about fancy coffee and avocado toast, keep that in mind.
The Atlantic's Amanda Mull wanted to dive into why so many personal finance experts keep harping on millennials' coffee habits. Outwardly, it's out of concern for our budgets — and sure, it's worth recognizing the difference between a treat, a necessity, and an extra cost. But Mull debunks the notion that the younger generations are just weak-willed and misguided. "With every passing year," she writes, "it becomes harder to sell the idea that the problems are simply with each American as a person, instead of with the system they live in."
It's true that we do love coffee. It's magical, after all, and the prospect of the coffee plant's extinction is an existential threat for some of us. Not only will we pay just about anything for it, we use it to motivate and guide us toward savings plans (take that, cynics!). Coffee is a millennial problem in the same way student debt, housing costs, and low wages are: Individually, we can try to do our best, but we're all up against some massive societal forces.
The truth about our favorite bean is a lot simpler. "Personal-finance gurus obsess over buying coffee not because it is unsustainable," Mull writes, "but because being a personal-finance guru is." Read her whole piece for more facts and zingers.