For those of us that don’t live in the city, we’re not always able to stop at one of Providence’s great coffee spots for our lifeline. Out of necessity, when our energy is low and cups are empty, we find ourselves at national coffee chains desperately trying to fill the void.
Seeing that I can’t stomach the choices available at one such locale, I tend to gravitate towards the uppity big-coffee-business to get my fill. While waiting in line at one of their stores last week, I noticed as the customer in front of me ordered some kind of breakfast sandwich (you know – the ones that look like wax figurines in the glass case – staring you down as you wait to order). As the barista “prepared” her order, I couldn’t help but notice as she grabbed the sandwich from the fridge, removed it from its plastic packaging (think snack cakes or frozen burritos) and tossed it into the microwave to get it nice and hot for the customer. Although I completely understood that I was not shopping locally at that moment, I was genuinely shocked to have witnessed this process. I think it’s reasonable to assume in such a “classy” establishment that the food offerings would be fresh or perhaps they would do a better job of hiding the process from the customers anxiously awaiting their caffeinated beverages with little more to do at the time than watch just what the baristas are doing back
In a time where so many of us have read/watched such informative works as Food Inc., Fast Food Nation, Eating Animals, etc… companies should probably do all that they can to provide fresh, quality items to consumers. If convenience had little or nothing to do with our choices when it came to selecting where to purchase our food/drink (or any everyday item for that matter), I would like to think that we all would spend our money at locally owned and operated cafes and shops – not only to keep the money in our local economy but also to support businesses that truly care for the well being of their customers. Plainly put, eating a sandwich that has been cryovaced into plastic packaging to preserve for who-knows-how-long is probably not good for our bodies and is definitely not good for our local merchants. I have been to just about every coffee shop downtown or on the east side and not once have I seen the staff tear open a prepackaged food item, slap it onto a plate and serve it up. Perhaps it takes a few minutes longer to wait as individual ingredients are brought together to form our meals, but consider it an investment. It may be cliche, but some things are indeed worth the wait.