Tales from the Café: Flat Whites and Macchiatos

Time: 2:35 pm, Monday

Mid-afternoons are slow under the best of circumstances, and this one was even worse. I wasn’t sure what was keeping people away from the café, but that was the way things went. Honestly, I didn’t mind the slow afternoons. It meant that I had some time to get caught up on my side work, and if someone came in with a particularly complicated order, we had the time to put all of our focus into it.

Speak of the devil…

The bell jingled and I looked over my shoulder, setting the silverware I was polishing and the rag we used for it down as I went over to the register.

“Good afternoon, welcome to Mocha Time.” I greeted the woman at the door with a smile. “This going to be for here or to go?”

She was looking down at her phone, setting her purse on the counter. “Can I get a–oh, this is for here. A paper cup is fine though.” She glanced up at me, tucking the phone into her purse and I bit back a sigh. Maybe I was of the generation who were attached to their phones, but I’d never understood how often people used them while also trying to interact with others.

I gave her a smile, starting her order on the screen. “Sounds good. What can I get for you?”

“Can I get a grande skim sugar-free vanilla wet latte?” I got about two buttons in when she spoke again. “Oh, how many pumps of the…um, the whatever. The syrup does that have?”

I blinked, staring at my screen for a moment. She said grande. Translated from Starbucks speak, that’s…what, a medium? I should really know this by now. “A medium has four pumps of syrup.” Medium…latte. Sugar-free vanilla. Wet.

“Can I just get…like, one and a half pumps instead?” She started rifling through her purse again, no doubt looking for her wallet. “Most of these coffee drinks are just way too sweet for me.” Gaze came back up to me. “That’s got two shots of espresso, right?”

“Yes on both counts.” Special prep: 1.5 pumps. Skim. Dear god. Honestly, the ultra-complicated coffee drinks didn’t bother me. Again, it was slow and that meant I could both take the order and make the drink, which was easier in the long run. It still, however, struck me as incredibly bizarre. If you were that specific about what you wanted in your coffee, couldn’t you just buy the stuff and make it yourself? It’d be cheaper that way. “Okay, so that’s a medium vanilla latte, wet, sugar-free vanilla, one-and-a-half pumps, skim milk. Did I get it all?”

“I think so!” She smiled, and this time my smile back didn’t feel forced. Being grateful made up for a multitude of minor annoyances.

“Anything else for you today? I will say, we’ve got some chocolate chip gingerbread here, and it’s definitely limited edition. This stuff is amazing, and it sells super fast.” I looked over the top of my glasses, still smiling. She paused, wallet half out of her purse.

“Hmm. That…that does sound tempting.”

“I promise, it is amazingly good. One of my all time favorite sweets we get.”

She took a breath, and I knew I’d won her over. “All right, you sold me. I’ll take one of them too.”

I grinned, punching the treat into the computer. “Total comes to $8.15.” Now that means I can’t eat that last piece, thank god. I’ll take it, in exchange for the drink. Not bad for a Monday.


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