The Official Coffee Shop Drive-Through Survival Guide (Or, How to order coffee in Canada) 3

3rd installment

You should be an expert at placing single coffee orders at the drive through by now.

But you don’t always drive through to get just one coffee for yourself, do you? Quite often, you need to get a coffee for someone else, or several other people. Especially if you’re doing the coffee run for the office break. Then things start getting trickier and sometimes more frustrating for both you and people working in the drive through.

Let’s take it one more coffee at a time.

Let’s say you need two coffees. Simple enough. You drive up to the speaker box and you order two coffees. Right? Wrong.

“I’d like two coffees please.”

Silence. This means the order taker is waiting for you to elaborate. She has entered “2” in the number of items on the order screen and is still waiting. If you don’t say anything right away, you’ll get a question.

“What size would you like?”

“Umm, make them medium…”

Silence. This means the order taker is waiting for you to elaborate further. Meanwhile, she has selected “medium” and the order now reads “2 medium”.

“What would you like in your coffees?”

“…no, make one black and the other one cream and sugar.” She quickly selects “black” then re-enters “medium black” and “medium cream and sugar” and deletes the “2 medium black”.

“Okay. Would you like an apple cinnamon donut with that today?”

Silence. The order taker is waiting for you to answer. Her finger hovers over the donut menu, waiting for an answer. ANSWER!

“Mumble mumble”

“I’m sorry? Did you want the donut?”

“That’s fine.”

That’s fine? That’s fine? What kind of an answer is that? Is that supposed to mean “That’s fine, I’ll take the donut?” or “That’s fine, I don’t want anything else on my order? All that’s needed is a simple YES or NO. And please, PLEASE don’t just drive away, because someone out there inside that speaker box beyond what you see is waiting for an answer so he or she can tell you the price of your purchase.

Order takers are not mind readers. You need to let them know what you want. Coffee makers are not mind readers either. Let’s look at this same scenario from the coffee maker’s point of view.

“I’d like two coffees please.”

Coffee maker’s hand hovers over the medium and large cups.

“What size would you like?”

“Umm, make them medium…”

Coffee maker grabs two medium cups, setting them directly on the counter in front of her.

“What would you like in your coffees?”

“…no, make one black and the other one cream and sugar.”

As soon as you say “black” the coffee maker has one cup filled and is in the process of filling the next one, stops halfway when you change your mind and quickly scoops in a teaspoonful of sugar and squirts in a single medium serving of cream from the dispenser.. While the order taker is asking if you want a donut, the coffee maker has put lids on your coffees and is passing them to the window counter so that by the time your car gets to the window, you will have your two coffees. Meanwhile, at least two people (the coffee maker and the runner or supporting front counter crew or the shift manager) are poised waiting to hear if you want the donut or not. If not, they all go back to what they were doing, or wait for the next car to register its presence at the speaker box.

All these happen just so you can have your coffee the way you want it at the window of the drive through by the time you get there.

And that’s just for two medium coffees.

In sum, what you’ve learned today is how to order two different kinds of coffees. Remember the following tips and you’ll be okay at the drive through:

1. If ordering two or more coffees that are exactly the same, you may place a single order for all of them.

For example, “two medium black”, “four small cream and sugar”, “three large double double”, or “two extra large triple triple”.

2. If ordering two or more coffees that are different, order each one separately.

It’s somewhat confusing when you order “two large, one double double, one single single”, which will be easier to enter as an order if you simply say “one large double double and one large single single.” Also confusing is “large and medium double double and large and medium triple triple.” In all likelihood the order taker might only hear “medium double double and medium triple triple”.  Another order that messes up touch screen order entry is “two medium black, one with three sugar” which can be interpreted as two medium black coffees and one black with three sugar; it’s better to say “one medium black and one medium black with sugar”. The clearer your order, the more chances that you won’t get a botched order, and the more likely that you’ll be in and out of the drive through in a minute or less.

more to follow

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