I have this tiny problem: I can’t drink more than one cup of caffeine coffee in a day, and that cup has to be early in the morning.  Otherwise, I’ll be calling you to chat on the phone at 3 a.m.

At today’s chic coffee shops, however, ordering decaf is somewhat frowned upon.  At least, that’s the way I feel when I attempt to order decaf there.  I often feel like I’ve just ordered fried cheese curds or something equally weird, instead of decaf coffee at a coffee shop.  

Coffee shops often have a solution to this problem for afternoon decaf drinkers: they make the decaf at the time of the order, so that it isn’t sitting around waiting for that lone, pitiable decaf drinker to come in the door, and they often do this with the “pour over” filter thing. That was the case when I recently tried to place an order for decaf at a chic coffee shop.

“Oh, we don’t have any ready at the moment,” the clerk said, without further ado.

“I realize that.  I’ll wait,” I assured her. I had gone through this routine before.

 “It will take a few minutes,” she said, clearly wanting me to give up or order something else.

 “Yes, that’s fine,” I said again.

 “I have to get out this whole holder thing and the water has to get hot and then drip…,” she went on.

 “Yes, I understand.  I’ll wait over at that table,” I said.

 I’m not sure if she actually rolled her eyes at my order, but I do know she sighed heavily.  I paid for my order and took my seat.

Before my coffee was ready, her colleague arrived from what I assume was his break and ribbed the clerk, “Oh, my, you’re actually making a decaf? Look at you!” as if she had accomplished a baked Alaska.

It occurred to me then that the clerk was relatively new and her hesitation at making my customized decaf was rooted in the fact that she hadn’t felt confident enough to do it on her own yet. She clearly welcomed the arrival of her colleague to help her.

Perhaps her training needed to include how to appear confident in the job and not try to talk a customer out of her order?

This kind of problem can easily be identified and rooted out by periodic mystery shops. Another good investment.