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Barista! Sans Clown

Well, well, well. A recent internal memo - almost immediately leaked to the media - suggests that the Head Bean of the Corporation is feeling wistful for the days of coffee yore. Ahhh, the days before the automatic espresso bars so concisely poured perfectly-timed sterile shots; before customers knew how to ask you to put one-and-a-half Splendas in their lattes for them, despite the fully-loaded condiment bar in their certain, unavoidable paths. Think further back yet, to a time when your baristas could don tattoos, facial piercings and even personalities. Scary, I know.

Head Bean is certainly correct in his desire to make our stores less sterile; less . . . like McDonald's. Of course he doesn't specifically say that in his memo. But why don't we just call it what it is? Liquid McDonald's. Exchange the focus on smiles and happiness with a focus on enrichment; commodified internationally, sans clown.

Part of the sterility of which Head Bean speaks comes with the great comfort of knowing that you can go into any single store, from the West Coast to the Forbidden City, and still get your large easy-water, easy-ice, six pumps of classic syrup, one-half pump of peppermint syrup shaken black iced tea, and it will taste exactly the same as anywhere else. (No, I did not make up that drink. She exists.)

That is just another element of the store that has tragically evolved over the years: The madness of the modifiers. We abide by a mentality to cater to nitpicky drink requests, but let's be honest, people have taken this small, innocent privilege and shit all over it. I often ponder whether these monsters created the coffee chain, or if the coffee chain created them. Consider our latest in-limbo promotion, where we are hyping drink personalization. Add a shot! Take away the foam! Two pumps this, two pumps that! I have a pretty good idea where people learned how to identify through their complex beverage requests.

I mean, I cannot convince a single Dunkin' Donuts employee to stir the three tablespoons of granulated sugar in the bottom of my cup, yet I had a fucker ask for a 177-degree hot chocolate the other day. When I asked him if he would be mad should the hot cocoa be at 178 degrees, he humorlessly warned against the whipped cream melting too fast. I'd say we enter the whipped cream danger zone at around 167 degrees, since we're being specific. But I didn't want to spoil his modifier fun, so I got it pretty damn close to 177.

Whereas Dunkin' Donuts lady denies the stir and instead head-nods me over to the tiny plastic straws, of which I'll need a handful just to rouse the sugar mound in the bottom of my cup. But dammit, I am a fully capable human and I don't mind stirring my own sugar! Nor French-pressing at home for that matter! And Dunkin' Donuts will not lose my business for making me exercise my wrist a little bit.

Anyway, I think Head Bean needs some help re-rooting the company. I have my share of ideas on what needs to be done and why he should hire me personally for consultation. Next week I will go into more detail, and also provide an update on the assistant managing saga. And I will also attempt to answer the age-old question: How do homeless people afford pot?

*

Maude Perkins is The Beachwood Reporter's pseudononymous service industry affairs editor currently serving time as a store supervisor for a large, publicly-held corporate coffee chain. Catch up with the rest of her heartwarming tales from the front here.



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Posted on March 5, 2007


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SPORTS - All Is Not Forgiven, Bears.

BOOKS - Turning Points Of The Civil War.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Baxter's IV Bag Shortages.


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