There is a difference between iced coffee and frappé

With coffee enjoying a new cult status among the young these days, and with coffee shops like Starbucks being considered a hip place to hang out in to be seen, it is amusing to listen to young people order coffee without knowing exactly what they’re ordering. At Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at TriNoma one time, for instance, there was this girl, speaking in English with a decidedly fake twang, who was complaining why there was no foam in her iced coffee. I was next in line and I had a hard time trying to stop myself from giggling. The barista tried to explain that she ordered iced coffee and there’s no foam in iced coffee. But she wouldn’t listen. The barista asked if she meant to order a frappé instead (see a related article), she said no, she wanted iced coffee and she wanted foam on top of it. The repetitive exchange went on for a few minutes and I got bored listening after a while. I just wanted to kick the stupid and maarte girl off the line so I could order my coffee.

That’s the problem with the hip crowd in hip coffee shops — there’s a huge difference between ordering coffee because you like and know your coffee, on the one hand, and ordering coffee because you just think it’s cool to order one in a hip place, on the other. Makes the saying that “the customer is always right” so, so wrong.

But cluelessness can be found on the other side of the counter too. At the Mall of Asia Krispy Kreme last month, I saw new products that didn’t look like donuts, I asked the guy behind the counter what they were, he said they were kruffins and pointed to the poster just behind him. I asked what kruffins were and he told me they were muffins with holes. Is that all, I asked, just muffins with holes? Yes, he replied. And they’re all the same except for the flavors? Yes, he said again.

Speedy, Alex and I ordered three different flavors of the kruffin and coffee.

Alex had bacon and cheese…

I had something with cinnamon…

And Speedy had apple streusel.

And the texture of the bread of all three were different from one another. Alex’s bacon and cheese kruffin was more like a pull apart bread, Speedy’s apple streusel had a very cupcake-like consistency and my cinnamon thingy was really more like a muffin. Pull apart bread, cupcake and muffin are made differently. The first is a layered bread, the second is a small cake made with cake batter and a muffin is a muffin made from a batter that is lumpier than a cake or cupcake batter.

After finishing our coffee and kruffins, I was so tempted to go back to the guy behind the counter and ask him (sarcastically, I’m sure) if he knew at all the products that he was selling. His generic answers might be good enough for ninety percent of the customers but there are people who do want to know exactly what they’re paying for and they have a right to the correct information from people who are supposedly well-versed in the product line.

It’s a sad story that one finds in so many restaurants, eateries and coffee shops these days — waiters and waitresses (or food attendants as they are sometimes called) who can’t explain, even in simple terms, what the dishes in the menu are. But those food attendants at Krispy Kreme? Gee, if they can learn to speak English so fluently, surely they can learn about the products they’re selling.

Okay, maybe it’s not their fault. Maybe it’s not the fault of all the badly trained food attendants everywhere. Perhaps, it the fault of management that is more concerned about training their staff to get customers to order more rather than get them to order well. You know, teach them lines like “Would you like fries to go with your burger?”

Or, maybe, it has to do with the fact that the staff in many food chains don’t last long enough to learn their jobs. The Labor Code says if you’re employed for more than six months, you’re a permanent (regular) employee entitled to full benefits including vacation and sick leaves, thirteenth month pay, security of tenure, etc. But that is circumvented in different ways. One is when a restaurant contracts with an entity to provide labor. The workers are, technically, not employees of the restaurant but of the contractor. The contractor re-assigns its people to different restaurants or branches every six months and no one becomes a regular employee. With a set-up like that, well, you can imagine why food attendants don’t know what they’re selling and serving.

  • http://sprytesplace.blogspot.com/ marguerite

    I can remember my dad ordering iced coffee in the summer 35 years ago in MA before it was trendy! =)

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      He’s got good taste for at least 35 years. :)

  • candice

    haay…one of my apprentices went to such trendy coffee shop recently and wanted a mozzarella and turkey bagel along with her coffee…”but without pork”. the barista tried to explain to her repeatedly that turkey is not pork. i was told that this conversation – “but i don’t want pork!” – “no, it’s turkey anyway” went on for ten minutes. i feel very much ashamed for my colleague who hired that apprentice. sad, brainless state of being.

  • natzsm

    I think food tasting for the restaurant staff should be part of the training process so they really know what they are selling and just not a vague description. The most difficult thing to do is to describe food you have never actually tasted. Unfortunately, the food crew in most of these restos do not earn enough to afford the food they are selling so they are actually simply clueless.

    Just yesterday, I was at BANANA LEAF at Greenbelt and inquired about the difference between their PAD THAI – Thai Style (hahaha- how redundant indeed) and PAD THAI- Banana Leaf Style. Our assigned food server just told us that the Banana Leaf Style was spicier. I already knew at this point that any further queries would just be useless and just resolved to order the Thai Style in this visit and the Banana Leaf Style in my next visit!

  • http://sugarwithdrawal.wordpress.com marie

    I remember a (supposedly) chi-chi Japanese restaurant in Greenbelt a few years ago; when we asked the waitress what dishes she would recommend, she replied: “I don’t like Japanese food, eh….” If I had been her manager I would have fired her then and there. It was irritating at the time, but now it’s just funny. And no, we never went back :D

  • Denney

    So; you’re not going to tell us what a frappe is?

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      I already provided the link — you want me to spoon feed you?

      • fred

        yes it’s about the contractual thing in our country. very sad. other employer abuse that. ewan ko how they will solve that. its been going on for decades i think.

  • mark gamboa

    HI Connie. Thank you for the comment you gave about the experience at Krispy Kreme Mall of Asia. We are very sorry on how our staff answered your inquiry. We will inform our store team about this incident and do corrective actions to avoid similar incidents happening in the future. I hope i can personally apologize for what happened. We will work on our shortcomings and improve to serve our customers better – Mark Gamboa of Krispy Kreme

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      He was a tall plump Chinese-looking guy. Just so the other members of your staff are not affected.

  • http://www.thoughtsontransitions.com geri

    It’s the first time I’ve heard of kruffin – but then again I’ve never been to a Krispy Kreme store because they are far away.

  • zizi

    After reading your post I’m intrigue what Kruffins really are, it is correct that it is a muffin-with-a-hole filled with fruits and cream fillings. Though the server does not told you that the other products are Krispy Kreme Pull Aparts and not just Kruffins.

  • Charo

    Late last year I preferred Iced coffee over coffee frappe. For more healthy reason. In Starbucks if your clueless what you want they have a menu over the counter so you would know the difference of there coffee. Nevertheless there are some food attendant that really don’t know their product. Couple of years ago when me and a friend dine at Chef de Angelo SM San Lazaro. I ordered pesto fettuccine. As it was served to us, heck the pesto was so bitter. It’s like there was ampalaya bits in it. I know what pesto pasta, it’s not suppose to be that bitter. I called one of the waiter and said “Ganito ba talaga lasa ng pesto nyo dito?” He asked “ano po lasa ma’am.?” I said “Mapait! Sige ikaw try mo?” He left without mentioning what he will do next. When he return and I think he told this to his Manager. He got my plate and said “Ma’am palitan na lang namin” They did make over the bitter pesto fettuccine with out explaining why and not even an excuse why it taste that way. Talking about good customer service. :(

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      Ate at Chef d’ Angelo only ONCE. Robinson’s Metro East. The pasta with tomato sauce was soooo effing sour. Pasta with white sauce was… ah, how should I describe it — tasteless white sauce thickened with too much flour. Never went back. NEVER. LOL

      • Charo

        Same here. Hindi na ko bumalik for their pasta. If ever someone wants to eat at Chef d’ Angelo I would go for their pizza or burger or cheesecakes. But no pasta again. Magluluto na lang ako eheheh :)

  • http://digitalskies.wordpress.com Digi

    XD I sadly have been dragged into the whole “ice coffee” fad, but I don’t like the Ice coffee perse I like the famous “Frappuchino” sold specificly in starbucks and thats how I started to drink coffee, because my coffee has to be sweet. NOT the only reason though when I used to live in Puerto Rico which is super tropical weather year around MAKES SENSE to be drinking cold coffee and what not, but now I live in NY I found people pretty dumb ordering Ice coffee when its so cold out lol. Now I find myself drinking REAL coffee and ya know if you order it right its just as good as a frappuchino.