This morning I stopped at Caribou and experienced what is becoming an unfortunate pattern of less than perfect coffee experiences with them in the past week.
It hurts me to feel this way, not just about coffee but about Caribou in general because it’s one of my happy places – along with Trader Joe’s, REI, and Borders – all places where I can easily drop $176.16 without thinking twice just like I did at REI a few weeks ago when I bought a scarf, a fleece jacket, a hat, two new balaclavas, and gloves (I will write a blog on balaclavas as the winter progresses). Target used to be on my happy place list but it behaved pretty poorly for a few months and it got the boot (lesson learned: always check your receipt there because they have a nasty habit of overcharging). And I don’t want to have to exile Caribou in the same way.
Everything with Caribou was going very well. We were really hitting it off. They scored major points with me when they installed Wi-Fi a few weeks ago. Then they sent a free coffee coupon via e-mail. I would love anything that sent me free coffee. Then I got happily hooked on their new dark roast, Obisidian Blend, so flavorful and sexy in it’s black bag that I want to buy 10 bags and drink 10 cups every time I’m in there. Boosting their ratings with me even higher, they reintroduced the Reindeer Blend on November 9th.
But on November 9th, when I went to the store knowing they would have Reindeer Blend and ready to enjoy a cup, so started a slippery slope of bad experiences that have led me to put Caribou on happy place probationary status. And if they don’t watch their step, I just might banish them to my Island Of Misfit Stores (along with Target, Jewel and Wal-Mart).
It started with the kid behind the register (note: anyone that cannot accurately perform their job in my books is a kid). It was a day where you could reload your Caribou card (and I am a card-carrying member) with $20 and get a free drink. Again, I will never turn down free coffee. To do so would throw the entire universe off it’s axis; birds would stop singing, the sun would stop shining, you get the point.
I gave the kid my credit card to pay the $20 but it came to $21.62. Huh? Enter the incompetent kid behind counter. He accidentally charged me for Chris’ coffee. Not a big deal, but Chris was planning on his reloading his card too (yes, he’s a big boy now and not only wears big boy pants but also carries his own coffee card). So, no free coffee for Chris and an extra $1.62 charge for me. Ok, I can get over that. But then he swipes my card and said it didn’t go through. Now I’ll admit with the decrease in training time I have conversely increased my shopping time. But still. I’m not that far in the hole. He runs my card again and it goes through. And I stopped sweating buckets and holding my breath. I declined a receipt because after all who the heck takes a receipt for something that will be downed in less than 30 minutes? Not me.
I went off to work and decided to check the status of my credit account. Just to be safe. Just to make sure that the trips to REI, Borders, Old Navy (not a happy place because of a little issue I have with their size 0, 1, or 2 pants being about 2 feet too long for any one that could physically fit into a size 0, 1, or 2) didn’t add up too much. And that’s when I noticed that I was charged $21.62 not once, but twice that morning. So the first time my card “didn’t go through” it actually did. Twice.
The next morning, I went to Caribou armed with my bank statement. I explained the situation and the logical thing was to assume the kid put $40 on my Caribou card and that’s why he charegd me twice. But he didn’t. There was only $20. They asked to keep my bank statement which I was a little leary about because I didn’t want too many people to know how I spent my money (holy crap, this girl spent $60 on balaclavas). So I left some other info and they said they would check on it. A few hours later, they followed through, called, and said it was voided.
But then I checked my credit account the next day and it still wasn’t resolved. Not so great. We’re still working on a resolution. Because again, I have no receipt to prove my point just a bank statement that shows I spend about 1/2 of my income on fuel for me (coffee) and the other 1/2 on fuel for my car.
I was willing to give Caribou another try, though, because I’m not ready to jump on the Starbuck’s wagon. Though I like their espresso, their brewed coffee – other than Pike’s Place Blend – is nothing to blog about. So I went to Caribou this morning for some Reindeer Blend. And the girl behind the register- the girl with the great hair (really, she has great hair, the type of straight hair that holds a style, the type of straight hair you can wake up and walk out of the house with) – said ‘do you want room for cream?’ And that’s where I get a little sneaky and say ‘no’ because if you say yes they leave about 1 inch for cream. And no one needs 1 inch worth of cream. I ordered coffee. Not coffee with my cream.
I got my cup and went to put in the cream. And upon removing the lid, I realized they left about 1/2 inch of the cup empty. 1/2 inch. EMPTY OF COFFEE. Empty of life. But this is not the first time this has happened here. It’s becoming a regular pattern and it’s regularly starting to bother me.
And so I decided to reach into the annals of my brain and pull out my gifted skills in mathematical computation (note: these skills do not transfer to other forms of mathematics, including geometry which I almost failed, calculus which never made a cosine worth of sense to me, and trigonometry which was like the worst of geometry combined with the best of calculus but still meant nothing but a near failure for me):
Total cost of coffee/Ounces in cup = Cost/ounce
$1.88/16 ounces = 12 cents per ounce
There are 28.88 cubic inches in 16 ounces.
28.88 cubic inches/16 ounces = 1.81 cubic inches per ounce
If 1/2 of 1.81 cubic inches was missing from my cup this morning, that means I paid 6 cents for nothing at all. Now I realize this is just speculation about the 1/2 inch empty thing. So, to provide some proof, I pulled out my ruler and measured the cup standing at 5 inches and confirmed that 1/2 inch was left empty. I think. (Disclaimer: I realize the inches outside the cup are not the same as the inches inside the cup and realize I probably need to understand geometry to understand why or how but as I said my brain does not speak the language of geometry so please do no write to me explaining it in geometrical terms. PLEASE.).
What do all of these calculations mean? (if they can mean anything; I realize my logic may not be correct but I am just trying to make a non-mathematical point using some semblance of math) Every time they leave that 1/2 inch empty, it costs me 6 cents. 6 cents may not sound like much but after approximately 10 cups of coffee per month it becomes 60 cents that I am giving them in exchange for nothing at all. And after 3 months, that adds up to me giving them a free cup of coffee.
So, I went back up to the counter, assumed the role of overly difficult and needy customer and demanded they fill my cup with .9 cubic inches more coffee. I didn’t actually say cubic inches and it was more a polite question than a demand because while I am difficult I am not going to get all I-know-more-math-than-you-do about it (because I don’t know math that well). And they happily filled the rest of my cup and I happily went on my way.
Of course I realize the risks of filling my 16 ounce cup up with 16 ounces of coffee. Those risks are the same if you think of it in terms of cubic inches too. Clearly there are safety hazards involved and you never know who will sue because they left their common sense at home one day and forget that coffee is a hot beverage and hot things are hot. But I’m willing to take that risk. Furthermore, if coffee spews all over my car on the way to work because I demanded you fill it to the brim, then it’s my mess to clean up. Not yours. And I promise I won’t sue you for cleaning fees.
At the same time, if you’re going to leave that much space empty for safety reasons then perhaps cups should be designed for 17 ounces to leave a little wiggle room for the dare I say less intelligent people of the world that haven’t made the connection between hot coffee and hot liquid which equals hot feeling if you spill it on your leg (and I dare to say less intelligent because my equations above might just qualify me as one of those can’t-do-math-to-save-her-life kind of less intelligent people).
Anyways, that is why I am a little miffed with Caribou. But I’ll go back again. Until they do something else. And then maybe I’ll take my business to Dunkin’ Donuts. But they (the clerks) put the cream into your coffee (behind the counter) which opens up another whole world of problems. So I say fill ‘er up and give me the 16 ounces of liquid joy and life that I paid for or it’s off the the misfit island with other places that have scorned me and my money!
(PS – I realize that the amount of cream I use probably costs as much as .9 cubic inches of coffee but let’s just keep quiet about that one)