22 July 2008

More Coffee-Ordering Complications

At the less-than-super-market this evening, I was surprised to see that there are now four different "colours" of milk available: blue full-fat, green semi-skimmed, red skimmed and orange semi-semi-skimmed (AKA 1% fat, skimmed-skimmed being 0.1%). Is this new orange milk for people who just can't decide whether to be "good" and buy skimmed or to be semi-naughty and go for full fat? For people who love the taste of "proper" milk but have been told by the doc to cut back to skimmed and this new semi-semi-skimmed option means they're still in the good half of the milk spectrum? To confuse and/or trick shoppers? It's bad enough going to the States with all their half-and-half what-not or to France, where a milk bottle with a red lid doesn't mean the milk is skimmed (although buying milk in France is always a pretty risky strategy anyway, unless you love UHT).

Will coffeeholics now be able to go into the nearest branch of Starbucks and ask for a semi-semi-skimmed latte (with hazelnut syrup and chocolate on top, no doubt)? Of course, given too much choice, people tend to buy less. Yes, it's very nice catering to every under-caffeinated whim of one's coffee shop customers but so many people who came into the SSoD would stand, bewildered, reading and rereading our menu and trying to work out how they could just get a white coffee. Adding another dimension from which to produce regression analyses will only lead to confusion.

Then again, coffee drinkers are snobs about their coffee (it takes one to know one) and also tend to be paranoid when it comes to their health (or, at least, the effect their coffee may be having on their health). I often used to get customers who wanted a large cappuccino (which came with two shots of espresso) with one shot of regular coffee and one of decaf (or to pack the portafilter with half and half) and others who would ask for a large-sized cup but with only one shot of espresso. I don't think coffeeshops will tap into any new markets by offering semi-semi skimmed milk (except perhaps the Americans who are more used to their milk terminology being presented as a percentage) and that the best milk to offer is semi-skimmed. Only very anorexic or anal people will refuse a cappuccino made with semi-skimmed instead of skimmed milk (even I wouldn't refuse semi-skimmed, although I would never actively choose semi-skimmed). Full-fat-afficionados might say that semi-skimmed just doesn't have the same creamy, rich taste but...it's a coffee, not a milkshake (if it's done right, anyway).

Most irritating about the 1% milk is that the colour is pretty similar to that of skimmed milk and I am usually tired and/or distracted when I go to the supermarket and I just know that I would be likely to buy the wrong milk by mistake (not colourblind, just ADHD when food shopping). Then again, the last time I remembered to buy milk of any kind was in November and luckily ViV is a red-milk fan too so I can pinch a swig of hers on the rare occasions I am making some mash.

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