32% Surveyed Got an Eye Roll From a Barista

in Buying Coffee

     Nescafe has launched a new line of three instant coffees that are meant to compete with specialty coffees, Nescafe Memento.  In their attempts to discourage you from buying specialty coffee and instead make this “equivalent” at home, they surveyed 1,013 coffee drinkers by email invitation and online survey earlier this year.  I found the results, and thought I’d share some of them.

It’s tough to say how scientific the survey is, because the results as they are presented are meant to attack specialty coffee shops.  This instant coffee is no doubt an economical alternative, but I use the word “alternative” loosely.  While I can’t condone making instant coffee when it is relatively simple to make good real coffee at home, here were some fun facts from the survey:

     – Americans who buy specialty coffee drinks are spending, on average, 36 dollars each month.  That adds up to 400 dollars per year, or “the cost of a 6-night Caribbean cruise”.  Nescafe calls this the equivalent of throwing money down the drain.  I spend about this much on professionally-roasted bulk coffee that I brew at home.  There is no substitute.  I think instant coffee is what should be thrown down the drain.

– Two out of 5 specialty coffee drinkers incorrectly think that a cupcake has more calories than their specialty coffee drink.  No argument here.  You should always question the caloric content of what you consume, or know that you’re treating yourself when it’s high.  I suggest a professionally-roasted black coffee.  It has no calories, and in my humble opinion, tastes better than any Buttery Caramel Latte.

– 42% of specialty coffee drinkers have been corrected by a barista for not using the correct coffee terminology.  I can’t argue this.  I think we’ve all interacted with a career barista at some point that could use a reminder that they’re in the customer service business.

– 32% of specialty coffee drinkers have gotten an eye roll from a barista for making a special request to their order.

     – 42% of specialty coffee drinkers have received the wrong size order because they confused the shop’s unique terminology.  I’m with Nescafe on this – I always thought new names for sizes was silly.

In short, some of these statistics made me laugh out loud because they ring true. 

But, consider the source.  The same survey goes on to criticize the time that people are spending in line waiting for a professionally served coffee when you can make Nescafe’s instant coffee at home.  It’s all meant to take business from specialty coffee shops by making you question why you would spend that time and money, over an instant coffee instead.  I have a better idea.  Invest in a quality coffee maker.  Find a good local roaster near you, or find one online, and buy your fresh roasted coffee from them.  Make good coffee at home!



  1. This seems more like a rather droll way of introducing products that are actually intended to provide an upscale alternative with products such as General Foods International Coffee Flavored Drinks.

    I doubt they want to damage specialty coffee shops, because if there were no specialty coffee shops, there would be no market for instant specialty coffee.

    Comment by Ex-Presso Drinker — September 28, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

  2. I was corrected on my coffee terminology recently, concerning the difference between a cafe breve and a breve latte (even though wikipedia sides with me) but what are they supposed to do if they think you might want one thing yet ordered something else?

    If I go to a fast food joint and order potato cuts, it’s much better for them to make sure I meant french fries instead of just guessing at what I meant.

    Side note… the breve was delicious, whatever you want to call it.

    Comment by Carl — September 29, 2012 @ 1:02 am

  3. True enough! I thought some of the questions were great, and others seemed to put down coffee shops. I buy great coffee from coffee shops.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — October 2, 2012 @ 1:43 am

  4. Good point, Carl. Better to get it right. I fought Starbucks for the longest time by referring to cup sizes by their regular name instead of the new Starbucks names, but eventually caved in like everybody else. As long as the person serving you and yourself are on the same page.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — October 2, 2012 @ 1:44 am

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