Ask The Salty Waitress: What’s so wrong with a 20-pump latte?

The Salty Waitress
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Photo: jacoblund (iStock), Graphic: Nicole Antonuccio
The Salty WaitressThe Salty WaitressSalty Waitress is The Takeout’s advice column from a real-life waitress that will teach you how not to behave like a garbage person while dining out—and maybe in real life.

Dear Salty, I was puzzled when I read the news about how Starbucks is putting limits on how many special modifications you can order through its app. I’m especially fascinated by the idea that people would order things through the app that they would be too ashamed to order in person. Honestly, it has never occurred to me to order a 20/20 (apparently that’s a grande in a venti cup with 20 pumps of hazelnut syrup and 20 pumps of vanilla syrup), but what if that’s what some people really like? Isn’t that discriminatory on some level?

Sincerely,
Black Coffee Drinker

Dear Black Coffee,

I’m right there with you on the black coffee. Coffee is the fuel that gets you through the day (or the night shift). If you want syrup and caramel and whipped cream, order the damn milkshake. You’ll even get a cherry on top.

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But you had a question, not a need for validation. So I hit up my neighbor, who we’ll call the Salty Barista. She was decompressing after a shift when she’d had to make a grande-in-a-venti-cup, nine-shot, half-caf, half-soy, three-pump white mocha with whip, a salted caramel drizzle, three shakes of cinnamon, and one shake of caramel crunch, so she was a bit saltier than usual. Her she is, verbatim:

“Is there any [redacted] reason why you need 40 pumps of syrup in your coffee? Each shot of syrup is a quarter of an ounce. That makes 10 ounces of syrup. A grande is 16 ounces. Just two ounces of that is coffee. That means you want five times the amount of syrup as espresso in your drink. At that point, why the [redacted] are you even bothering? I can’t believe there is anyone in the world that actually likes this junk, and if you do, heaven help you, because that much sugar isn’t good for anybody.

Let me break it down for you: It takes 24 seconds to pull a perfect shot of espresso. We can pull two at a time. Regular and decaf have to be pulled separately. It takes about a minute to warm up one kind of milk, so multiply it by two if you’re the [redacted] who wants two kinds of milk. Then we have to put on your silly drizzles and crunchies and whatever. Plus, there’s a procedure for making the regular drinks. One or two variations—no decaf, low-fat milk—we can handle, but a whole slew of them really throws us off. And then you’ve got a line, and the orders are piling up and nobody has any caffeine, oh my god, that’s the sort of thing that makes baristas go on their break and never come back.

You may think you’re being all cute and quirky and special like that Manic Pixie Dream Girl or the Super Dude Who Eats Everything, but really what you’re doing is monopolizing the barista’s time and holding up the line and making us all hate you.”

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Then she had to go lie down.

Here’s another thing, sugarplum: I talk a lot here about being kind to your server and to your fellow customers. There’s having very particular tastes, and then there’s forcing your barista—or bartender or server—to jump through insane hoops to satisfy what, your curiosity? That’s not a special order. That’s a stunt. Make it yourself, on your own time.

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Got a question about dining out etiquette? Or just a general question about life we can help you with? Email us: salty@thetakeout.com

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