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Room for cream?

When and why did all cafes become obsessed with this question?

It seems cheap for a Peets to ask and obsessively keep track of customers who want "room" and those who don't.

The other day an absent-minded barista at a small independent cafe in Rockridge asked me if I wanted room for cream in my mint tea. Yuck. ;)

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  1. They're obsessed because customers complain if they don't get it right. Leave room for a customer who doesn't want it and the customer feels cheated. Don't leave room for a customer who does and now the customer is forced to pour some off or otherwise deal with the issue. Customers hate dealing with issues :-)

    By the way, I think that on occasion some milk and sugar in mint tea can be really tasty...

    1 Reply
    1. re: davis_sq_pro

      It is amazing how unreasonable people can be; a couple of days ago I heard a woman making a huge scene at a restaurant about ONE unopened clam and how she felt "gypped" and wanted a discount on her dinner! Having witnessed near-apoplexy while waiting in line for my cappuccino I can totally imagine an enraged pre-caffeinated Peets customer going postal about not having his/her coffee topped up to overflowing.

    2. I think it's a perfectly reasonable question, especially since it doesn't hurt to ask! All you have to do is say "no"! I personally drink my black tea with a lot of cream. I usually ask for "small" tea in a medium cup so there's plenty of room to add cream and still not have it slosh over.

      1. I'd much rather they check, even if it seems unlikely that someone would want room for cream. And I guarantee there are people in the world who want cream in their mint tea. Doesn't sound bad to me, actually.

        1. Sorry but I think this is a totally standard and very reasonable question to ask, though I usually proactively specify whether or not I want room when I order.

          1. I think this is a totally reasonable question, and most of the people I grab coffee/tea with are happy they inquire. I don't put anything in my coffee or tea but really wouldn't mind if they left room for additions. On the other hand, a lot of people I know add milk, cream and/or sugar, and it seems to me to be an unneeded hassle for them to sip a scalding hot beverage or be forced to pour it out somewhere so that they can make their additions.

            The establishment is just trying to give the customer precisely what they want. There's nothing wrong with that in my book.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MonMauler

              Yup. I've had to pour out hot tea to make room for cream -- it's a nuisance!

            2. I'm not sure cream in mint tea merits a yuck; I like cream in my chai

              1 Reply
              1. re: demitasse04

                Peppermint tea with milk is disgusting. Try it if you don't believe me.

                Chai is not an herbal tea and it should have milk: bitter, balanced out by milky, yum!! :p

              2. This seems like a tempest, shall we say, in a teapot.

                It's a VERY reasonable question. If you drink your coffee black, you don't need extra room at the top for cream or milk.

                If you drink yours with cream or milk, you DO need room, otherwise the coffee could spill on you and possibly scald.

                I appreciate the thoughtfulness of being asked, myself.....

                1. If there is no room for milk, then I have to pour some coffee out. I'm sure they are just trying to avoid a garbage can full of liquid.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: iluvcookies

                    That's what I always think about - and when I ask for room and don't get enough, I feel badly pouring out my hot liquid into the garbage and imagine the bag melting, etc...

                    i do worry a lot.....

                  2. Wow, I have never encountered this. I mean I struggle with "Paper or plastic?"

                    Too many choices, but now, at least I have been warned.


                    1. Because otherwise they end up with trash bags filled with thrown away coffee which make a big mess when they try to change them.

                      1. I'm totally confused - why is it "cheap"? What are they supposed to do, fill up the cup then pour some out if you DO want room for milk or cream?? That seems bizarre.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MikeG

                          No. How about fill up the cup and say, "Have a nice day."

                        2. I've seen a woman go batshit crazy in Starbucks before because they didn't automatically put whipped cream on top of her soy hot chocolate. I've seen another woman rant in the face of a barista about how stupid she must be because she filled her takeout coffee to the top. A man once yelled at the guy taking orders in my work canteen because his coffee was wrong - he was shouting "I bet you don't get her order wrong, maybe I need to have tits for you to care about what I ordered." Yep, that was in my WORK canteen, so presumably that horrible man who was abusive to someone who may or may not have made an honest mistake (he may have written it down right, he doesn't make the coffee) actually is, in some capacity, a colleague, remarking about my body at the top of his voice.

                          People who make coffee take a whole lot of crap. If they work in a chain they may also routinely have 'secret shoppers' and get their balls busted if they fail to ask those types of questions. So the answer to "Would you like room for cream?" even in a mint tea is "no thank you" and a smile.

                          1. BeanBoy, since this question has got you thinking, consider stating how you'd like your beverage prepared clearly upfront when you order it rather than wait out how it might be prepared. Time saver for everyone. No drama.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: HillJ

                              Who's talking about drama?? I just take what I'm given and roll my eyes.

                              I just don't like getting an inch of room if I say "no room" and then 2" of space at the top of my cup if I say "yes" to room. It's silly.

                              1. re: BeanBoy

                                Oh and did you miss the point where I suggested you just ask at the time you begin to place your order? Something like...could you leave some room for cream? Seems easy enough.

                                1. re: BeanBoy

                                  I have occasionally received a lot of room at the top, and have politely asked "could you top thi please?". I have never had either a problem getting it done or any attitude from staff.

                                  I think part of the problem when they leave room is that there is no universal "correct" amount. I drink my coffee black, and so want no room. But, I like a LOT of milk in my tea. If I forget to specify how much room I want, I usually have an amount of tea that is fine for most, but too much for me. So then I have to dump some, wipe the cup, feel guilty about the waste.....

                                  1. re: BeanBoy

                                    So this is how coffee is ordered now? What happened to black, regular or sweet? Showing my age, I guess......I bring a Thermos of my own home brew and it's always perfect, that's one solution!

                                    1. re: coll

                                      Only if one is picky! And I will admit that I am picky, but polite about it!

                                      Must say, I don't know what is meant my "regular" or "sweet" coffees wonder if it is regional or generational?

                                      1. re: CanadaGirl

                                        I believe it's a New York thing, now that you mention it. "Regular" is cream and sugar, but people look at you weird if you don't say regular. "Sweet" is just sugar, "Light" is just cream, everything has to be one word, so "with sugar only" or "with cream only" is frowned upon. Just joking, sort of.

                                        1. re: coll

                                          And yet one thing that shocked me when we lived in NY was when you asked for cream for your coffee in a restaurant, you always got milk instead. I always had to specifically ask for "cream, not milk." Once a waitress said "we don't have cream."
                                          "Really? You have desserts?"
                                          "You put whipped cream on them?"
                                          "You make your own whipped cream?"
                                          "You make it with Whipping Cream?"
                                          "Bring me some of that, please. Thanks."

                                          Really, I would have been fine with Half & Half, but this was like 2%, watery chalky stuff. Blech.

                                          1. re: acgold7

                                            That IS true. I just said cream because that was the topic, but yeah it's usually milk. But whole milk, not 2%.

                                        2. re: CanadaGirl

                                          Yea. I originally posted this in a regional board for SF Bay Area. My rant doesn't apply to 99% of the American continent, thank God!! It is funny to read responses from people who see me as anti-worker, ├╝ber-picky, or almost anti-free market. . . .

                                          Here in some corners of the Bay Area there seems to be kind of an obsession in some cafes . Sadly, just getting a simple, decent cup of coffee is a major production, involving 1000 minor adjustments, explanations, redefinitions and pedantic detail.

                                          No matter how good it is, it's still just coffee. And I still want a full cup!!

                                  2. if I'm ordering regular coffee as opposed to latte I always ask for two thirds full so that there's room for cream. That's not a guarantee as it often comes full to bursting then I have to ask for a bowl to tip some out or ask them to pour some off.

                                    1. You're asking if it's appropriate for a service employee to courteously request if you have a specific preference for the item being served? Is this really putting you out somehow?

                                      1. Frugal person that I am these days, I sidestep that issue at *$ by ordering the next cup-size up, i.e. if I want a tall coffee, I order "tall in a grande cup". Every once in a while, I still get asked, "room for cream?". My reply is (with a smile) "there will be".

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Steve Green

                                          The lady at Starbucks has kindly suggested I do that, although I'm a little embarrassed that they think I'm using that much cream. For me, it's more a matter of crappy German cup-holders and pale beige carpet....if they fill it the brim, I get the floorboard and console splashed on the way to work.

                                        2. No problem here. I go to a DD drivethrough, ask for an Xlg with extra extra cream, no sugar. I think only ONCE did I have an issue where they put surgar in. I chalked it up to statistics and haven't had an issue since. I have a sneaking suspicion we are beginning to take our coffee a bit too seriously.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: njmarshall55

                                            we are beginning to take our coffee a bit too seriously
                                            ya think, ROFL.

                                          2. I too like the question, as I never want room. I think the staff probably gets into the routine of asking, even if there is slim to no chance someon would want cream/milk in a particular drink.