I don’t know if Starbucks invented the “coffee prep station” but I’d say they certainly made it popular. Caribou has one that’s pretty much the same as Starbucks. Argo tea has their version. Peet’s. Stumptown in Portland has one, except with eco-friendly real silverware-type spoons to stir your brew that they wash and re-use. They all have pretty much the usual: sugar, sweeteners, whole milk, half & half, 2%. Straws, stirring sticks, and flavored powders.
They’re typically a three-person station, if you all work together, in sync like a bartender/barback routine or the choreography cooks perform in a galley kitchen. Reach, duck, pause. Go for the milk while the other guy reaches for the nutmeg. Anyone who’s worked in the service industry falls into the rhythm, easily. But not everyone, apparently, did time in a pizza joint or tavern. There’s always that one guy, standing back, waiting for an extra large space to clear, acting patient, but cursing you in his head to hurry the hell up, dammit!
From the ever-so-slight-why-bother-sprinkle-of-vanilla woman to the five-sugars-and-sweet-&-low guy, everyone’s got their own, personal way to prepare their coffee. One custom is fairly common, I’ve noticed, almost universal: The Pour Off…
Starbucks charges around $2.15 for 16 ounces of its regular coffee. That’s pricey as “fast food” coffee goes. Caribou, Dunkin’ Donuts, and McDonald’s come in a close second, third, and fourth. You’d think at those prices, you’d protect and cherish every drop. But I swear, three out of four Starbucks customers pour the first couple ounces into the garbage.
These people just paid more than the average Joe can rationally justify for a drink they could easily brew for pennies at home and they toss an eighth of it in the trash. I’m assuming it’s to make room for milk, a do-it-yourself latte kind of thing so they could’ve simply asked the barista to “leave some room” for cream and they wouldn’t have filled it all the way.
I mean, it’s Starbucks. They’ll make your coffee, pretty much, anyway you want--- venti, triple shot, no-whip, skinny, mocha macchi-whatever with two pumps of caramel, on ice if that’s what your caffeine-craving heart desires. I’m sure they’d be happy to sell you less coffee for the same price. No, no… I’d rather waste 20, 25 cents worth of coffee. (I’m sure there’s at least a gallon of liquid at the bottom of every prep station garbage bag.)
What’s next, coffee dumpers? When you sit down to a thick, juicy Porterhouse, you going to slice off a couple mouthfuls, and throw them on the floor to make room on your plate for the A-1 sauce? Start skipping the first ten minutes of movies or start reading novels at page 35? When does it end?
Why, I’ve got a good mind to stop the next coffee dumper I see at the prep station, and scold them like a 1950s mom: “You finish all your caffeine now, mister. There are children, groggy in Biafra!”
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