Your Drink Is Not the Only One We're Making
My first day back to work after vacation was a Tuesday. I'd forgotten how Tuesdays can get crazy sometimes... mostly because Tuesday is an odd day for that sort of thing. I mean really, why Tuesday? I wonder this a lot.
Anyway, there I am, getting back into barista mode, doing closing stuff, being on bar. I've got a couple drinks lined up to make. I look at the next one in line: a caramel macchiato. I get the milk steaming, pull a pair of espresso shots. I pick up the cup and pump the syrup into it.
"Oh," says the woman waiting at the end of the bar, "that's too much vanilla."
I turn to her. "Too much vanilla?" (I tend to repeat back most things people say to me in the workplace, partly because I have trouble hearing, and partly to get them to elaborate.)
"Yes, I only want two pumps of vanilla. That's way too much."
I look at the cup again. No specification on the amount of vanilla. "I'm sorry," I say by rote, going to the sink and dumping the syrup out of the cup. I figure she'll probably want to avoid this kind of confusion in the future, so I tell her, "A venti caramel macchiato usually comes with four, but you can always tell us how much you want at the register."
"But I asked for two pumps."
"You did? I'm sorry about that. I'll just make you one with two pumps."
"And I didn't ask for a venti. I wanted a grande."
"Oh, you did?" I pull a grande cup from the stack and put two pumps of vanilla in it, nodding occasionally as the customer tells me how four pumps of vanilla is just too sweet for her. By now the shots I pulled are dead. I pull new ones, pour the milk, add the shots, and grab the caramel sauce to finish with a drizzle.
"What's that?" the customer asks, sounding slightly alarmed and maybe even a little scandalized.
I pause. "Caramel sauce," I say, wondering how anyone could order a caramel macchiato and then be surprised at the addition of caramel.
"I didn't ask for a macchiato," she says quite firmly.
"No. I asked for an Americano."
I look over at the counter. Sitting there, next in line after the caramel macchiato, is a grande cup marked for an Americano with two pumps of vanilla.
"Ah," I say, dying a tiny bit inside because of the time I just wasted on a hectic night, "your drink is actually the next one in line. This one is for someone else."
"Oh!" She is clearly a little embarrassed. "I didn't realize there was anyone else waiting for a drink!"
No response entered my head that would not have gotten me into trouble. Silently, I remade the caramel macchiato in its proper size and proportion, and then made an Americano. With just two pumps of vanilla.
To coffeeshop customers everywhere: if you feel the need to micromanage the making of your drink, please do ask us which one we're making before we begin. It will save everyone a lot of time. :)