I feel like there's been a lot of introspection within the "Third Wave" coffee community lately, and I'd like to add to it with consideration to the creamer station. We all know the feeling of pulling a good shot of espresso, only for it to be downed with 2 splendas and grimace. For kicks, I tried an espresso with a splenda in it-- it tasted horrible (to me). Now, I don't blame a customer who comes into my shop and orders a double espresso-- almost every espresso you find around this area is high in volume and low in flavor. I suppose a splenda would be fine in that situation.
There's been a huge push in the "barista knows best" direction recently, whether it's no iced espresso or no 20 oz. cups. We're constantly filled with the desire to impart our knowledge of our product onto our consumer, and we all know the adverse reactions that have been sparked from this. You can usually bypass being thought of as a 'pretentious coffee snob' by the way you phrase things-- but it's very hard to tell a customer what to do with their cup of coffee after you give it to them. I've tried casually saying to a customer, "Wow this espresso looks like it's going to have a lot of flavor, you might want to try it before you put any sugar in it." She remarked, "What did you do to it?" Well, I pulled it to a shorter volume to maximize its natural sweetness. She said "I think I'm ok" and put the sugar in.
I've seen people that are so unaccustomed to drinking coffee that they'll order something like a mocha (already sweet and mostly hot milk) and then go put cream and sugar into it. That's probably pretty gross too. Most people know at a fine restaurant not to ask for salt, because you trust that the chef has good enough taste to season your dish adequately. This is not the case with a fine coffee shop. It's ingrained in a lot of people that coffee needs cream and sugar, always. So, as this "Third Wave" progresses, I wonder if the "barista knows best" attitude will find its way into the dissolution of the creamer station altogether? As in, if you don't put the salt on the table, they can't throw a bunch on before they even taste the dish. I'm not even close to curious about doing this in my cafe, but I am curious if there are any shops that have done this already, or if anyone sees this as a future progression within the current coffee movement.