Topping off my coffee

The following is a stale idea for a post I jotted down in a few moments of silent rage a few years ago. It sounds like nitpicking, but I’m curious to see if anyone feels the same way. I attempt to shoehorn a customer service takeaway at the end.

When I have coffee that isn’t from an AeroPress1, I might add cream and sugar (usually two each). The ratio of coffee/cream/sugar is balanced to my liking. That means I’d only request more coffee at a restaurant if my mug is empty.

If the server tops it off when my mug is three quarters full, the ratio is skewed!

Instead of offering more coffee (my preference), some places begin pouring proactively.2 I find those interactions “rough”, mentally. I don’t interrupt when they’re already in the motion (they’re almost done anyway), so I bite my tongue and smile politely.

As they walk away, I’m thinking, “The ratio got skewed!”

Anyway. Here are my options if I’m not sitting in the middle of a room (the first is direct, the rest are passive):

  • Interrupt the server before the ratio-skewing liquid exits the larger vessel.
  • Keep the mug far from reach of the server, then relocate near the edge of the table when I’d like a refill.
  • Leave a napkin (or something) over my coffee mug to indicate I don’t want a refill.
  • Flip a coin to decide if I should add more cream and sugar, then hope for the best.

What would you do?

It’s “strange” (read: embarrassing) to read this post because this entire circumstance involves my personal preference. But, it might be a good takeaway for customer service: when in doubt, ask before taking action. I’ll appreciate that you’re attentive!

P.S. I promise I appreciate servers, even if they don’t ask before pouring. That’s still preferred over avoidance.🙂


  1. e.g. Drip coffee at a restaurant or catered event. 
  2. If I’m mid-conversation with someone else, it’s likely that the server doesn’t want to be rude. I totally understand. 

Published by

Bryan Villarin

Bryan is a Community Guardian at Automattic. He's also a photographer, card magician, and cat whisperer. (Thanks to my friend and colleague Steve Blythe for the sweet photo!)

3 thoughts on “Topping off my coffee”

  1. You could bring your own coffee mug / measuring cup and have them put the refill into that. Based on the amount, you could calculated the amount of cream and sugar to add. If you wanted to be all scientific.

    Like

    1. Interrupt the server before the ratio-skewing liquid exits the larger vessel.
      Keep the mug far from reach of the server, then relocate near the edge of the table when I’d like a refill.
      Leave a napkin (or something) over my coffee mug to indicate I don’t want a refill.
      Flip a coin to decide if I should add more cream and sugar, then hope for the best.

      Stare the server in the eye as you pour your coffee on the floor

      Like

  2. I immediately move my mug/cup/glass in any restaurant to avoid this issue. Sometimes I just don’t want a refill. When I was a server I would always ask. Though, I drink my coffee black so keeping a ratio isn’t an issue for me.

    Like

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