Short and very dry, please.

I like my coffee every day and prefer cappuccinos that are short and dry. Now, for the uninitiated, let me explain. That means a cappuccino with less milk and proportionally more foam. There is no exact measure for what the proportion should be and that is where the skills of a good barista come into play.

But I digress.

I was in a corporate cafeteria this morning and ordered my usual at a Starbucks stand – except that knowing how things are done there, I asked them to make it ‘extra dry’ just to be sure there was no ambiguity.

Sure enough, when I got my coffee, it was far from dry. Actually it was wet enough to be classified as a small latte in some parts. Now this is not completely surprising since as mentioned earlier, this is an art and not a science. Normally it’s a matter of requesting the barista to just make it drier, a request that is usually complied with a smile.

Not here, not today. The barista got into an argument with me debating what dry and extra dry is and should be. At one point, it degenerated into her mocking me sarcastically and wondering if I was in the habit of making my own special cappuccinos every afternoon. And this was not in jest, and there was neither contrition nor acknowledgment that a customer could 1) have a preference and 2) sometimes be right especially when there is no ‘right’ answer.

Fortunately, the café manager happened to be nearby and helped to smooth things over by offering me free coffee which I didn’t accept to make a point (though I’m quite fond of free in general). The barista had quickly and seriously harmed the reputation of that particular coffee stand and turned someone that could have been a loyal customer into someone that well, wrote this blog.

We are reminded of the importance of great customer service everyday – but what a shame that companies seem to invest less time and money in training employees enough in that regard. This is truly an investment, and not an expense.

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