Who waits longest for coffee?

Tim Harford reports:

Caitlin Knowles Myers…with
her students as research assistants, staked out eight coffee shops 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
women. (There is also evidence that black people wait longer than white
people, the young wait longer than the old, and the ugly wait longer
than the beautiful. But these effects are statistically not as

This does not seem to reduce to greater complexity of drink for the female customers, read these clarifying remarks from the researcher.  One question I have is when the order counts as having started; in my family I am sure that the women spend more time ordering.  The simplest explanation, however, is that the staff feel more implicit psychological pressure to meet the needs of the male customers.  I’ve also found that indecisive behavior at the counter leads to slower service, I have one particular (male) friend in mind.  I am myself virtually always a decisive orderer.

Along not totally unrelated lines, here are new but not surprising results on which waitresses receive the biggest tips.


"I've also found that indecisive behavior at the counter leads to slower service, I have one particular (male) friend in mind."

Perhaps that's because of his irrational fear that he might work in the coffee shop someday...

Tyler, the serving time is counted from the point the order finishes (see Myers' comment that you link to), so that shouldn't be a concern.

There's also been a suggestion that the longer wait time could be due to people taking more care making the coffee, which would again suggest better rather than worse service.

On the other hand, it could just be worse service.

Pray tell us what the important issues are Russ.

They should repeat this study in a bar, and watch the results reverse (that is if it measured from the point the customer reaches the bar.)

Yeah Russ, what's more important than coffee and sex?

Speaking of gender and service, did you know that fertile lapdancers earn more (and much more than menstrating ones)?

interesting. In every Starbucks that I frequent (5 between home and office) the cashier and person making the drink are different, the shops are very busy, and the orders are queued so that that are made sequentially. Short of reading the name on the cup I doubt that the drink maker has a clue about the gender, race, or any other characteristic of the customer.

Contra ZBicyclist , I think men get served faster precisely because young baristas are flirting with them...

This is especially true if the guy is a regular; it's very flatering to have your order ready by the time you reach the counter.

I only have my time spent at Starbuck's and my girlfriend's experiences to draw on, so here we go:

1. Most baristas of the male gender are, to put it mildly, less than imposing physical specimens, so they would be more comfortable chatting up women (this observation is probably skewed by the location of my Starbuck's-next to the local Y, and would have more big, imposing guys coming in than the average).

2. Study authors can say what they want, but the things that some women order begger the imagination, and seem to take 2 minutes just to order.

3. As with everything else in life, women tend to want their coffee JUST RIGHT, and, like my girlfriend, have no problem bring it back up to be "fixed". This would make baristas loiter a bit to punish or take extra time to try to make the drink perfect. I have a woman friend who gets a cappuchino every day and complains that it's never as good as they make in the North End!

3. Women are notoriously bad tippers (unless they were once waitresses). 80% of the women I see at the coffee shop pull out the change for the exact amount. My girlfriend refuses to tip for coffee. I tip pretty well, and it paid off at my local Starbuck's. I usually get a cinnamon chip scone, which they run out of pretty early, so a couple of the baristas (young ladies) began to save one for me!

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