Coffee chains like Starbucks have refined the process of running consumers through their stores as quickly as possible. And yet, one step in the consumer experience gums up the whole process: The coffee fixins bar.
At the coffee fixins bar, I’m always jockeying for space with other bleary-eyed caffeine addicts that are spilling milk and mauling sweetener packets in an odd combination of fervor and lack of coordination usually seen in junkies preparing to shove a needle in their arm.
I’ve been watching the people standing at this café-tastrophe to figure out why grown adults are continually flummoxed by the simple task of adding milk and sugar. My friends, I have figured out the problem.
We, as a coffee culture, do not know what to do with our lids.
The lazy solution is to set the lid on the counter. But we all know this is not sanitary, given the number of homeless and soon-to-be homeless who camp out at the fixins bar. There is a panicked urgency when people tempt fate and put their lids down on this communal petri dish anyway. The five-second rule should not be applied to public counter tops.
Placing the lid on top of a napkin would be hygienic, but in the caffeine culture this would incur a socially unacceptable penalty: unnecessary-daintiness. The remaining option, the one I noticed most frequently, is to hold the lid while trying to perform two-handed procedures (opening milk lids and tearing sugar packets) with one hand. And here’s where coffee consumers lose their mojo. It’s not natural, not instinctive, not smooth, so this slows everything down, and has us apologetic for even trying.
So what’s the Rich Fix?
Believe it or not, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to crack this one. I’ve envisioned plastic lids with pop-open backs (like jars of parmesan cheese), or hooks hanging from the top shelf of the fixins bar. But I’ve come up with a simple, elegant, and immediately practical solution. It uses the fixins bar’s unsung hero, the stirrer.
Here’s the Rich Fix:
- Sit beverage down and remove lid.
- Place a stirrer in the beverage.
- Place lid over stirrer, so the stirrer pokes through the hole meant for sipping. Slide lid down stirrer.
- Let lid hang off side of cup.
- Add powders and liquids with two-handed precision and confidence.
- Slide off lid, stir, toss stirrer, pop on lid, and go.
(For iced beverages, a straw works just as well.)
When I showed this trick to my wife, she named it the “Tip O’ The Hat.”
Is this Rich Fix as important as curing world hunger? Of course not. But the Tip O’ The Hat will bring peace and harmony to the fixins bar. People will move through coffee shops quicker, with less hassle and more confidence. I bet that you will try it the next time you’re at Starbucks. You will like it. Comment on the blog if you do – I’d love to hear your experience. You won’t have to thank me, because you will already have given me a tip o’ the hat.