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Caffeine-Averse Woman Tears Into Barista Who Made Her Drink Full-Caff Because It’s ‘Better For You’

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Food allergies, and even food preferences, are no joke.

But lately, people seem to feel especially entitled to what other people put in their bodies.

One woman was a victim of this, according to the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, during a recent visit to a small coffee shop.

Redditor torirose21 explained that there was a disagreement over a coffee order that could have been much more harmful under other circumstances.

The Original Poster (OP) wondered if she overreacted during the incident.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for ripping into the lady who made my coffee?”

The incident happened during a trip with the OP’s mother. 

“Okay, so me (25 [female]) and my mum (65) are currently on a roadie around my country during my study break.”

“We stopped off in a smallish town [and] go into a cafè to grab a hot drink.”

“I asked the lady at the counter for a decaf flat white, she recited my order back correctly, I confirmed [and] paid.”

The OP had specific reasons for the order she placed. 

“I can’t drink caffeine as it triggers my anxiety and migraines, but love the taste of coffee.”

“20 minutes later, mum and I are walking around, [and] I suddenly feel a tightness in my chest, heart pounding [and] my breaths are quickening.”

“I soon realize I’m about to have a panic attack. We take a seat and I calm myself down. I get panic attacks often, sometimes out of the blue, so I wasn’t immediately concerned.”

“But then the auras started.”

“Panic attacks have never triggered a migraine and certain foods can trigger a migraine within half an hour of consumption.”

“I knew at this point something wasn’t right.”

The OP confronted the barista. 

“I go back to the cafè [and] ask the same lady if she’s sure my coffee was decaf.”

“She looked super insulted [and] after a long pause, she said she made it with normal coffee because, [and] I quote, ‘decaf is stripped of caffeine by the same chemicals found in nail polish remover. Caffeine is better for you’.”

“To say I was irate would be an understatement but I calmly explained that I don’t drink caffeine because it triggers migraines [and] my anxiety [and] that she has no right to alter a customer’s order [and] if we lived overseas, she could be sued.”

“She rolled her eyes [and] replied with a tone that I can only compare to a bored teenager that I should have explained my reaction to caffeine when ordering my coffee. But that she has done much research [and] has lots of knowledge about foods, preservatives, [and] preventing illnesses.”

“My migraine was raging so this probably contributed to my foul mood but I absolutely lost my s**t.”

“I said I don’t have to explain to anyone about my choices, especially a stuck-up woman who thinks she has the right to make dietary choices on my behalf.”

“I said she obviously has no qualifications to be giving dietary advice as she’s working for min wage in the a** crack of nowhere making coffee. I told her she was a danger to those coming in, altering food requests could lead to an allergic reaction.”

The manager also got involved.

“At this point, the manager comes out [and] my mum explains what has happened, as I storm off outside to go take my pain medication.”

“I come back in [and] the woman is gone and the manager is sweet-talking my mum, basically begging her not to make a complaint with the local council (local govt dictate who can and can’t open shops that sell food).”

“In the car, mum tells me I was a bit of an a**hole and should have just left [and] let it be.”

“AITA??”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some were adamantly against anyone making suggestions about someone else’s dietary needs.

“This. A colleague of mine who was lactose-intolerant used to regularly go to a coffee shop nearby [and] get her flat white with soya-milk. One day she’s been back about an hour when she starts getting ill.”

“Over next hour starts throwing up, dizzy, racing heart etc. etc.- racking brains to think what it is, but adamant it couldn’t be the coffee, they know her and never a problem and yes, she’d remembered to ask.”

“Must have been the prawn in her sandwich. By this point nearly passed out on the desk, refused ambulance, so had to call her hub to pick her up, but she still ended up at A&E – who said severe reaction to lactose.”

“Lovely ‘safe’ coffee shop had run out of soya and given her regular milk, thinking it was a ‘preference’ and not that important. F**k. That. S**t.”

“NTA.”LandofGreenGinger62

“Yeah, NTA. I always feel bad for double-checking if my coffee order has soy (or almond milk) but I am allergic to milk and if I want to have dairy I need to take a pill before so I limit my intake by cutting it out of certain place (like my lattes).”

“A couple of times I’ve gotten my coffee, been drinking it, and 10 mins later had an allergy attack (nothing serious, just runny/stuffy nose, itchy watery eyes, sneezing), but it’s miserable and I missed a lot of school in high school because I’d have to go home and take a Benadryl and pass out for 3 hours (that was before I knew what the cause was). I’ve had to skip uni lectures because they messed up my order, so now I tend to hover around the pickup counter.”

“If someone tried to tell me ‘milk is better for you so I’m not gonna use soy’ I’d be p**sed and would definitely have been less than polite. (Especially since it’s 70 cents extra). Combined with a migraine, I’d probably have flipped out too.”josygee19

“This. Son is allergic to chocolate. Makes him throw up. So not a major life or death allergy. Still, we write it down in application forms in every school he has attended. He knows to avoid chocolate.”

“His 2nd-grade teacher thought she knew better. Made him eat chocolate cake because ‘its a birthday cake.'”

“He threw up in class.”encouragement_much

Others questioned the barista’s abilities to do her job. 

“This, I can only imagine the possible next victim telling her they can’t have sugar and/or milk in the coffee as it would trigger diabetes or a severe lactose allergy.”

“You work in the kitchen and/or serving people food and drinks? You need to leave your know-it-all ego at the door.”ToastAbrikoos

“I can’t have caffeine because of heart problems. This lady seriously could land someone in the hospital or kill them.”

“It wasn’t cool for op to make the comment about working a min. wage job. But op is NTA here! I really hope that woman never serves food again, she needs to work somewhere that won’t put other people’s lives at stake.”Runkysaurus

The barista may have meant well in exploring the makeup of decaf coffee, but as this sub pointed out, she had no business acting on those feelings. If her customer had even worse allergy symptoms, the results would have been much worse.

McKenzie Lynn Tozan

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.