Here’s a hot take on hot vs. iced coffee

Jessica Stewart

The other day, I went through the Starbucks drive-thru and ordered a french vanilla coffee with cream and sugar, which is hot by default. However, when I got to the window and they handed me my drink, it was iced. I did not ask for it to be iced, so why did they assume that was what I wanted? This is not an isolated occurrence either. I’ve gone to Starbucks many times and ordered a simple coffee; it often comes iced. Why do they assume that I want iced coffee if I don’t specify?

The last time I checked, coffee is hot. When you make coffee, it’s hot. Iced coffee is something completely different. It isn’t even simply adding ice to hot coffee; it’s a completely different drink. Therefore, if I say that I want coffee, I want hot coffee. If I want it iced, I’ll say that I want it iced.

This has been gradually bothering me more and more as I keep getting iced coffee when I don’t ask for it. Hot coffee is the default, so I should not have to ask for my coffee to be hot.

I tried looking up other instances of this online, but I couldn’t even find any. There were no articles about people being given iced coffee instead of hot coffee. So now all I can think is, Charleston Starbucks: What’s the deal?

Why do you assume that when I ask for a French Vanilla coffee, I want an iced coffee? On the menu, the drinks are listed as coffee and iced coffee, not “hot” coffee. “Hot coffee” is just coffee.

I have one theory for this, and I don’t even think it’s correct: iced coffee and its fixin’s might be cheaper than regular coffee and its fixin’s.

I used to work at Subway, so I am familiar with fast food/customer service. For the sauces, we had regular and light mayo. Light mayo is cheaper than the regular mayo, so our boss always told us to use the light mayo by default unless the customer specified they wanted the regular. This may be the case with Starbucks and hot vs. iced coffee.

While these situations are somewhat similar, they are different. Light and regular mayo do not taste that different, so people usually didn’t even notice, but a hot drink vs. a cold drink? That is definitely a noticeable difference, so I don’t really understand why Starbucks does this.

Coffee is supposed to be hot. If I want iced coffee, I’ll specify that I want it iced. You shouldn’t assume that someone wants it iced unless they specify. If you’re unsure if they want it hot or iced, just ask.

Jessica Stewart is a junior English major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].