Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Slate Magazine article on Coffee Shop Discrimination

I was reading an article from Slate Magazine earlier today about coffee shops and discrimination and thought it was interesting. Since, I'm not a coffee drinker I wanted to know what you think. Here is some of the article with the link to read it in full.

Waiting for Good Joe
Do coffee shops discriminate against women?
By Tim Harford

I'm a real cappuccino lover myself, but many of my female colleagues don't seem to go for the stuff. I'd never thought too much about it until recently. I suppose I carelessly assumed that men and women have different tastes, probably as a result of different social influences. Now I know better: My female colleagues don't go to coffee shops because they're shabbily treated when they get there.

That's the conclusion of American economist Caitlin Knowles Myers. She, with her students as research assistants, staked out eight coffee shops (PDF) in the Boston area and watched how long it took men and women to be served. Her conclusion: Men get their coffee 20 seconds earlier than do women. (There is also evidence that blacks wait longer than whites, the young wait longer than the old, and the ugly wait longer than the beautiful. But these effects are statistically not as persuasive.)

Perhaps, says the skeptic, this is because women order froufrou drinks? Up to a point. The researchers found that men are more likely to order simpler drinks. Yet comparing fancy-drink-ordering men with fancy-drink-ordering women, the longer wait for women remained.

It is not clear whether women were held up by male staff because the men viewed them with contempt or because the male staff members were flirting furiously. The "contempt" explanation seems more likely, as the extra time that women have to wait seems to increase when the coffee shop is busy. Who would take extra time out to flirt just when the lines are longer?

To read the article in full click here
My opinion:

I'm not a coffee drinker, but I do have friends that are and they spend an awful lot of time waiting in long lines for coffee in the morning and sometimes they complain about the service or extremely long lines. In response, I would sometime suggest (half jokingly) that they just buy a coffee maker and make their own coffee at home then they don't have to waste time waiting in line.

I understand the whole thing about coffee, it's more than just used as a way to wake you up in the morning but it's a way that people can get together and socialize. In a way it helps you feel like you are part of the group. If you watched friends you noticed that the group would all meet up at Central Perk to sit around drinking coffee and talking.

However, I could not see myself accepting poor service no matter what the product is. My take on poor service (something that I would view as deliberate and intentional) is if I feel like I'm getting consistently poor service I would either go somewhere else or figure out another option. For instance, I would buy a coffee maker and brew my own coffee. It would save me countless hours of waiting in line and in the future save money and possible save the environment (no cups to throw away). But then someone could also argue the convenience factor in going to coffee shops, which I totally get because everyone's so busy these days that to nip into the nearby coffee shop would in theory save you time and send you back on to your busy schedule. But is convenience really worth it if you're receiving poor service.

Well this is all my opinion and I noticed that most people don't mind having to wait in line because they have gotten so used to their daily routine and don't feel like changing it for good or bad reasons.

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