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Monday, September 24, 2007

Smaller Portions, anyone?

So, I see this huge board with most drinks starting at close to 3$ for 12oz size at the coffee shops, but I just want a simple small coffee, right? I see this little item at the bottom saying Kids' Drinks 8 oz for $1.10 but doesn't list what drinks will be served as Kids' Drinks.

So, I ask the barista for an 8 oz chai or coffee, whichever they can serve in small portion and hand her my 12oz travel mug... I expect to pay $1.50 or thereabouts and get 8oz or less...

The barista fills it to the brim with chai and charges me $2.55, which is the price for a 12 oz chai. Now, I clearly did not want a 12 oz chai - and I told her I wanted their Kid Size portion 8 oz or less, as I don't need the TALL size...

I was not trying to be difficult... and am sure the barista has her side of the story which she is blogging about right now... but, I was seriously getting sick of large portions and refusal to serve smaller portions appropriately priced! I mean, she said she can dump some out and hand me approximately 8 oz., but it'll still cost me the 12 oz price as they don't serve 8 oz chai...

When I said I was disappointed and was hoping they can serve smaller portions appropriately priced, the barista said, in a condescendingly charitable tone, accompanied by a dismissive wave of her hand, that I could have that drink for free and not pay for it!

Now, I am not a cheapskate and I told her if my drink is made and it rings up as $2.55, I'll pay for it. But, I wanted to express my discontent over refusal to serve smaller portions in the hope that many more are like me and will voice their request for smaller portions as well, and hopefully, it will fall on the giant's ears and eventually things will change towards reasonable portion sizes.

D having worked pizza delivery jobs and such, I know how much we relied on tips those days, and as a result, I have always considered myself a moderately generous tipper. I don't scrimp on 15%-20% for service - I know my hair stylist appreciates it.

But, I do begrudge that extra $1+ for that chai - I feel overcharged. This was at Starbucks® by the way... and Seattle's Best nearby is not any better.

Now, I don't have to go to Starbucks® or any such shop that doesn't cater to my smaller-portion needs. I agree...

But the resentment towards Starbucks® in particular started with a very specific incident which to this day I cannot reminisce without getting upset:

About 4 years ago, on a lazy weekend, I found this Starbucks® coupon in the newspaper which said Free 12 oz Drink with this coupon. Limit One Per Person Per Visit.

Perfect, I thought. And walked over to the Starbucks® near my house and got myself one. Then, later that day D found another coupon in an abandoned newspaper in the bus. So, I went with him to the same store. I stood in line to order as D was going to share the drink with me and suggested I choose what I wanted.

Now, get this: The barista for some reason, remembered me from earlier that day and refused to serve me the free drink!!!

Yep! Even though the coupon never said anything like Don't Serve The Same Person Twice Ever... but, simply Limit One Per Person Per Visit.

The only reason I think she remembered me was because I looked different from the generic customers she meets daily. I am not sure if she remembered me because of my ethnicity or my charming stunning good looks...

But, she refused. I asked to speak to her Manager. D saw this commotion and as he was nearby, came to my side and let me walk away to calm down and said the coupon was his and he was letting his wife choose a drink, and asked what the problem was. The barista tried to explain that I already got a free drink earlier in the day. D showed her the coupon and calmly explained to her what One Coupon Per Person Per Visit meant, got his drink, and walked away.

I was fuming. I was appalled. I was livid.

True, it was a free drink which I can easily forgo. That wasn't the issue. But it was the fact that the barista addressed me with such contempt and acted as if I was a deadbeat destitute moocher that completely unnerved me.

Anyway, after that incident, I swore off Starbucks® for a long time, until D convinced me that it was probably that one store where the barista was not very polite and so, I occasionally started feeding Starbucks®'s profits.

And, after trying out a few Starbucks® around town, I knew I was not happy with their service. But, this latest incident where the barista snootily said she would dump some out if I wanted an 8oz drink was the last straw.

I've been wondering... Since when did 12 oz become the minimum size for a coffee/chai? And who made it so?

Now, not all coffee shops say TALL is the new SHORT.

I like The Fresh Pot, Stumptown, even Peet's and a few others in my neighborhood... they serve 8 oz doses usually, and are willing to serve even smaller amounts in "normal-sized" porcelain cups, if enjoying the beverage in-house, for reasonable price of $1 or $1.25 at the most.

Many days I carry my own travel mug, and I prefer about 6 oz at the most, so, I settle for 8 oz portions at nominal price. I don't want to waste paper/styrofoam cups, and just because my travel mug is about 12 oz big, doesn't mean I want it filled up every time I buy a coffee or chai.

Many of my colleagues spend up to 8$ on an average in coffee drinks per day. Plus, they buy take-away lunches, which, in downtown where I work, on an average costs 5$-7$. So, on an average, many of my colleagues spend $15 a day which to me seems frivolous. Now, if one has that kind of money to throw around, wouldn't one feel like donating to their favorite charitable cause?

Am I the only one mad about this? I don't think I am over-reacting... I know some of these arrogant coffee shops survive because select customers have elevated it to an elite and cult status.

I have found a few local coffee shops near my office which seem reasonable, and coffee is pretty good, and service is quite courteous. Considering that I am not a coffee addict and I buy at the most TWO 8oz coffees per week, I guess I am a minority asking for smaller serving portions. Now, if my office would let me use my own coffee machine, I'd be more than happy to brew a pot of exquisite coffee and share with colleagues at my expense...

I don't eat out much, so, am not sure about portion sizes for food. But, I did watch Supersize Me, the movie, a few years back, and it seemed to suggest that fast foods do supersize, and we need better portion control...

Anyway, I do have a choice: I can make my own drinks and food. Nobody is twisting my arm to buy large portions at exorbitant prices. But, as a nation, as a culture, as responsible adults, I think this issue of portion-sizing warrants some rethinking...



Blogger Dee said...

I understand your rant. I am a HUGE coffee fan...but have stopped frequenting SB (Latte costs $2.95 now I think). I have switched to plain old filter kaapi :)

1:27 PM  
Blogger Sangeeta said...

Totally agree with you..i never really liked starbucks..obviously felt fleeced for a very ordinary drink...but more so because i always felt tense when it was my turn to order!!!somehow the drink never turned out to be what i expected (from the name!)
though K and I always shared one because of the size- one thing i could never understand- K would always request them to add the sugar while making the coffee and he has got all types of responses- right from them acting deaf or not able to understand his accent or doing it superfast and skipping that stage- to a plain NO WE DONT DO THAT. The end result would always be a very dissatisfied coffee experience because by the time we arrive at the 'right amt of sugar' the coffee is cold..hmmm..

12:02 AM  
Blogger Susan Ripley said...


My name is Susan Ripley and I apologize if you have already received this message from myself or an associate. I am gathering knitting and crochet patterns for the 2009 Pattern-A-Day Calendars from Accord Publishing. I am contacting you today in the hopes that you will submit a pattern or hang the attached flyer somewhere in your store or post it to your website / BLOG /pod cast to let your customers know about the design contest and the chance to get their designs published. You could also email the flyer if you have a mailing list. Patterns are accepted from individuals, shops, charities and yarn companies. There are no restrictions and the patterns can also be something that is currently being distributed for free.

Some of the yarn shops that have worked with us in the past have also offered fun pattern design/writing classes. This is a great way to get customers into your store while taking advantage of this great contest. $500 will be awarded as First place for both calendars; there are also 2nd and 3rd place prizes; and all contributors whose patterns are used will receive a 2009 calendar.

Please go to our website at and learn more about the submission requirements and our contest. The contest deadline is December 15th, 2007. If you have any questions, please contact me and I will gladly answer your questions. If your email program stripped the PDF, you can download the flyer at

Susan Ripley

Susan Ripley, Creative Director

Ripley Designs, Inc
1860 Sandy Plains Rd
Suite 204-186
Marietta GA 30066

phone: 678-540-9205
fax: 678-302-9965
cell: 404-964-5882

“Providing graphic and web design services to the Atlanta area.”

1:58 PM  
Blogger Kay said...

This post looks like deja vu... Seriously... I did read another post on a diff blog, not too long ago, wondering where the smaller size coffee went.

Sheela, A friend of mine got so mad at these SBs that she went and got her a single serving coffee maker that she could keep at her desk. That would be a choice.

2:12 PM  

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