When I was on the road recently, I got up very early, as usual, fixed myself a cup of coffee on the in-room coffee machine, and was immediately subjected to a little noticed form of discrimination: creamer bias.
Creamer bias afflicts those of us who like cream in our coffee. The hotel chains that have in-room coffee makers typically will provide little cellophane-wrapped packets of coffee-related items, with sugar, creamer, a coffee stir straw, and a tiny napkin. And that’s where the bias comes in.
The coffee service packets inevitably include plenty of sugar options. There are always at least two sugar packets, plus multiple faux sugar “sweetener” alternatives. The coffee packet at the New York City hotel I stayed at recently, pictured above, included no fewer than six sugar-related items: two “sugar in the raw,” two standard sugar, and two sweetener packets. That’s six packets to satisfy the coffee sweet tooth. Six! Really? You could bake a cake with that much sugar!
And yet, in studied contrast, the coffee packet included one measly pouch of artificial creamer. You can’t even get halfway to pleasant cafe au lait territory with that meager offering. That’s a 6-1 ratio in favor of the sugarholics over the creamer crowd.
And have you ever thought about what happens to all of the unused packets of coffee items when you tear open the cellophane and use whatever suits your taste? Unless you are using it all, there are bound to be multiple packs left over. What happens to them? Are they recycled somehow, or does the cleaning service just sweep them into the trash?
Hotels are changing what they are doing to be more environmentally sensitive, which I applaud. I think it is high time that the sensitivity process move beyond shampoo delivery systems to the in-room coffee service. I say it’s time to ditch the cellophane wrappers, can the stirrers that people can do without, eliminate the skimpy napkin, and offer creamer and sugar in packets that are kept in a decorative container next to the coffee maker. And while they’re at it, how about evening up the creamer and sugar offerings to finally address the rampant creamer bias — or at least dialing the bias back from a 6-1 to a 2-1 ratio?