Complaint to AMT Coffee Shops

It is my habit to purchase a take away coffee each morning on my way to work. This can be at varying times of the day, and in different coffee shops as my fancy takes me. I usually favour a small cappuccino, but may alternate this with a flat white, a latte or even, if I’m feeling particularly self-indulgent, the magnificent cafe maya available at AMT.

However, as AMT only sell their coffees in one size I find that the ratio of milk in this delicious beverage is rather too high for my taste and consequently I am always very particular in requesting only a half-cup of milk. This makes the resulting drink sweet and comforting whilst at the same time strong and fortifying. Too much milk, I find, dilutes the coffee and chocolate components of the drink and fills my belly without satisfying my soul.

So I approach the counter with a warm smile and a frisson of excitement as I anticipate the forthcoming pleasures of my purchase. I obtain the assistant’s eye before stating my requirements. I find this a useful approach as it often prevents misunderstandings and discourages the counter staff from walking away from the serving hatch as I approach, on the pretext of having to do an extremely urgent bit of tidying, or re-stocking of shelves.

When I have engaged the assistant’s attention, I begin with a salutary greeting, in very clear and well-annunciated standard English. This could be something as simple as “Good Morning”, for example. I then continue with a pre-amble such as “I wonder if you can help me?” This lets the assistant know that I am about to request a purchase from him/her and allows him time to tune his ear to my unfamiliar accent.

Now comes the tricky bit. “May I have a Cafe Maya, with just half a cup of milk please?” This may result in one of the following three responses:

1.He fails to hear my request (usually due to the inordinately loud rap music playing behind the counter) and repeats back to me first two words I uttered: “May I….?” This can sometimes be resolved by my raising my voice slightly and repeating my request. However, I have on more than one occasion been in the unfortunate position of having to repeat myself several times, each time increasing the volume of my voice, until I am bellowing the words at the top of my voice as if through a loud-hailer. This can be more than a little embarrassing and often results in strange looks from passers-by.

2.He repeats the words “half cup…?” as if he has absolutely no comprehension of the meaning of either. This is slightly easier to resolve through the medium of mime. I hold an imaginary paper coffee cup in my left hand, whilst gesturing with the thumb and forefinger of my right to indicate the required amount of milk. Sometimes this stage can be by-passed by pronouncing the “l” in “half” and often brings a smile of sudden comprehension to the assistant’s face. “Oh!…hallf cup! Yes!”

3.He turns on his heel at the very mention of the words Cafe Maya and does not return until he has prepared the drink, brimming with half a pint of frothing, steaming milk, brandishing an aerosol can and uttering the words “With cream?” This is the most frustrating response. Now, might be under the impression that carrying out the procedure clearly set out in “2” above would be sufficient to resolve the issue. But this is not the case. Having made clear the request for a half cup of milk, by whatever means are appropriate, there are two possible outcomes:

a) He makes a fresh cup, using the correct amount of milk, and I have waited twice as long for my coffee.
b) Frustratingly, the assistant retires to the sink and pours half the contents of the cup down the drain. Now we have the same inadequate beverage, but a smaller quantity. This means another five minutes explaining exactly what is required and a fresh cup being prepared.

So, I now carry in my pocket a series of business cards. On the back of each one is written, in neat block capitals, the type of beverage I wish to purchase together with any other requirements such as cream, sugar (one or two, according to type of drink) and “sprinkles” – whatever they may be. I hand the appropriate card to the assistant, who assumes I am a deaf mute, and he swiftly prepares a drink that meets my exact requirements without any of the above misunderstandings. Simples!