The Official Coffee Shop Drive-Through Survival Guide (Or, How to order coffee in Canada) 4


Welcome back, expert coffee orderers! You should have lots of experience now to your credit, giving easy-to-follow, clear coffee orders. Remember, order right if you want to get your coffee (or tea) right.

But you don’t always just order coffee or tea, do you? If you want to add cold drinks or other orders to your coffee or tea order, that shouldn’t be a problem. Say what you want very clearly, and be specific.

One of the most popular cold drinks you can get is the iced cappucino or “ice capp” for short. Here in Canada, people start ordering ice capps the moment the sun comes out regardless of the season. Yes, people do order ice capps in winter, but that’s not really what we’re discussing.

There are specific ways you can make sure your ice capp order is right. For instance, don’t just say “I’d like an ice capp.” Ice capps come several variations, starting with size. There are small, medium, and large ice capps. So you should say “I’d like a SMALL ice capp,” if that is what you want.

The second variation is the ice capp base: regular ice capps are made with cream. If you find cream too heavy or rich or fatty, you can have your ice capp made with milk. Most coffee shop milk will be 2% or 1% milk. Either way, it’s much lighter than cream. Your third option will be ice capps made with chocolate milk, if you prefer a chocolate milkshake-y type of drink. Let’s say you just want a regular ice capp with cream, then you don’t have to specify the base. It’s that easy. On the other hand, if you want a different base, you can say “I’d like a SMALL ice capp made with MILK” or “I’d like a SMALL ice capp made with CHOCOLATE MILK.”

But wait, it isn’t over yet. You still have more choices, if you want them.

You can have just a regular ice capp, or you can have an ice capp supreme. An ice capp supreme has a flavour shot, whipped cream topping and chocolate or caramel syrup drizzle. So you can order “a butter small caramel ice capp supreme” or “a small mint ice capp supreme.” Other basic flavours are french vanilla, hazelnut, and mocha. The seasonal flavours, so far,  include vanilla spice, almond, gingerbread spice, and pumpkin spice.

If all you want in your ice capp is an added flavour shot, just say “I’d like a small mint ice capp made with milk” or “I’d like a small butter caramel ice capp made with chocolate milk.” Add the word “supreme” if you want the whipped cream topping and syrup drizzle. All supreme ice capps get chocolate syrup drizzle EXCEPT the butter caramel ice capp, which gets caramel syrup drizzle. If you’d rather have one than the other, say so.

You can also get a regular ice capp topped with just whipped cream, without the flavour. Just order “a small ice capp with whipped cream, please.”

As with your hot drinks, ordering “three ice capps, one with milk, one with whipped cream, one with a mint shot” is a very confusing order. It sounds like you’re ordering 6 ice capps in all. Remember, the order taker doesn’t care how many ice capps you order in all, unless they’re all the same: “I’d like three medium ice capps made with milk.” If each order is different, place each order separately to avoid any confusion: “I’d like a medium ice capp made with milk, a small ice capp topped with whipped cream, and a small mint ice capp.”

Oh, and please don’t forget to say “please” and “thank you.” It’s just basic good manners, but it also makes the work more pleasant for those taking and making your orders.

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

How to Survive Coffee Shop Drive Throughs (2nd of a series)


2nd installment

By now, you should be pretty proficient at ordering any size of black coffee or coffee with cream and sugar. What if you want more than a black coffee or just cream and sugar?

In Canada, we have special terms for getting more than one cream and sugar in your coffee. Let’s start with “double double”.

Any Canadian who’s worth his or her coffee knows what a “double double” is. To those of you who are new to Canada or not from Canada or haven’t been through the Canadian coffee experience, a double double is a coffee with two shots of creams and two spoons of sugar in it. For clarity, some drive through denizens say “double cream, double sugar”. Also acceptable are: “two-by-two”, and of course, the obvious “two cream and two sugar”.

A slight variation on the double double is the “double single” (two creams, one sugar) and the “single double” (one cream, two sugar).

In the spirit of following trends, a “triple triple” will get you a coffee with three creams and three sugars; saying “three-by-three” will get you the same effect, as will simply saying the obvious “three cream, three sugar” or “triple cream, triple sugar”.

Now, there are more permutations: “triple-single”, “triple-double”, “single-triple”, and “double-triple”. You just need to make sure you say these very clearly and be sure of what you’re saying, because you could easily confuse the order taker, the coffee assembler, and yourself.

As a warning, Canadians don’t like using very long words, so nobody orders a “quadruple-quadruple”. Don’t even try it if you don’t want to get laughed at or have the order taker say “what? could you repeat your order please” or some such embarrassing question. Simply ask for a “four-by-four” or a “four cream, four sugar”.

For other combinations, stick with what is clear and simple: five-by-five, five cream, two sugar; two cream, six sugar; triple cream, four sugar; and so on. I’m sure you get the idea.

more to come….

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


1st of several installments

So, you want a coffee and you want to get it in a drive-through because you’re in hurry. Here are some facts and tips that will help you get through that drive-through within 60 seconds or less, from the time you place your order to the time you drive away with your coffee.

If you want to make sure you get what you want in the coffee you order when in Canada, say exactly what you want to be on the safe side. But if you want to sound like you know your way around Canada and its coffee shops, then you will have to learn the right lingo.

Coffee in the average Canadian coffee shop (think Tim Hortons) is always brewed, so it’s pointless to ask for brewed coffee.

Coffee is black. If you want it black, say “black”. If you don’t want anything else in it, just say “black”. If you don’t want cream or sugar, just say “black”. Don’t say “regular”, because that means “cream and sugar”. Don’t say “no sugar” if you don’t want sugar. Just say what you want, never what you don’t want. Anything you say might sound like you’re ordering it, especially since the antiquated speakers and headsets are not always the clearest and best way to communicate. Many drive-through orders become confusing because of people saying what they don’t want, rather than what they want:

“black no sugar” can actually sound like “black one sugar” on a staticky headset; “cream, no sugar” might sound just like “cream n’sugar” or “cream one sugar”

I can’t stress it enough: help yourself and help the order taker and the coffee assembler by saying ONLY WHAT YOU WANT. IF YOU DON’T WANT SUGAR, DON’T EVEN MENTION IT!!!

Coffee comes in four sizes: small, medium, large, and extra large. For best results, mention the size you want before anything else. That’s because whoever makes your coffee grabs the cup before making the coffee. It saves a couple of seconds so that by the time you’re done ordering, your coffee will be ready at the window.

“I’d like a small black, please.”

“May I have a medium black?”

“One large black, please.”

“Extra large black, please.”

The moment your coffee assembler (the person who makes your coffee) hears the size, he or she grabs the cup of the right size then quickly pours black coffee, if your order is black. If you don’t say the size first, for instance, you say “black coffee please”, you lose precious seconds while the order taker asks you what size and the assembler waits, hand hovering above the cups, trying to predict what size you want.

It’s okay not to say you’re ordering coffee, because it’s a coffee shop anyway and the main product is brewed coffee. If you’re ordering something else, like tea or hot cappuccinos or cold drinks, then you need to mention what the drink is.

If you want more than one coffee, you should also say so at the start of your order. That way, the coffee maker can set up the correct number and sizes of cups and prepare your coffee as you are ordering it and fill several cups in a matter of seconds. It is quite annoying for the assembler to start making an order that he or she thinks is a single coffee and finish that, only to find out that there are two or three more drinks following.

Some of the most frustrating orders taken:

“Black coffee, please” (assembler’s hand hovers over cups)

“What size would you like your coffee?”

“Oh, medium…(assembler grabs medium cup and immediately starts pouring)…no, make that a large…” (assembler grabs a large cup,  fills that and covers the cup with a lid)…

“Would you like a Boston Creme with that?”

“No. By the way, can you make that two large?”

“Of course. How would you like your second coffee?”

“Just black….(assembler is pouring)….no, make that a single-single…(assembler stops pouring, adds one cream and one sugar, then finishes pouring, stirring coffee as it is poured)…and make it with milk, please. (assembler shakes head, throws hands up in air, then starts all over again with a new cup)…

If you want something in your coffee, you normally ask for cream or sugar, or both. The “regular” order, naturally, is cream and sugar in your coffee. To order, say “I’d like a medium regular, please” or “May I have a small cream and sugar?” You will also be understood if you say “One large single-single, please.” To say “One extra large coffee with one cream and one sugar, please” is also acceptable, but wastes time. Less words said, less time wasted. Also, less chances for your order to be made wrong. Remember, everything else you say might confuse the order taker.

(more to follow)