GUEST COLUMN: Let’s get a handle on coffee mugs

Sheila Kozmin

The serving staff at some of Sarnia’s coffee shops has been giving me the finger!

They need to get a handle on this.

Let me explain.

Like many Canadians I love my Timmy’s, or a facsimile.  And I like it served in a china mug. Herein lies the problem; when the server hands me my steaming cuppa I often have to refuse it because the mug has been gripped, not by its handle, but by its rim – the very rim where I will place my mouth.

This practice is particularly off-putting when it’s the cashier who hands me the cup. Money is not clean; it may have been handled by thousands of people before it is deposited into the coffee shop till. As such, I do not want the cashier’s thumbprint or fingerprints on the rim of my coffee cup.

Restaurant beverage cups are sterilized in high-powered dishwashers for a reason, and that reason is to prevent the transmission of germs. Imprinting germs from unwashed hands onto coffee cup rims is counter-productive. It is also disgusting. Therefore, I beseech you to keep your paws off my coffee cup rim. Please.

I believe part of the problem is the design of the counters at the cash register. There seems to be minimal space provided for passing beverage cups to customers; gripping a cup by its handle and extending it forwards could be perceived as an awkward maneuver in such a tight spot. Servers seem instinctively inclined to cup the rim with downward extending fingers to facilitate the transfer. Design teams, start your engines.

Restaurant supervisors need to be more vigilant about staff practices as well.  Reminders to use mug handles instead of rims should be part of the daily drill. Education and public awareness are an important piece in addressing this issue.

Consumers are often timid. Not all of us will speak up even when we feel disgruntled by certain unsavoury restaurant practices, especially if we are regular customers who don’t wish to be labeled as troublesome.  Others who keep silent will simply not return to the establishment.

‘Roll up the rim’ has been hugely successful; now, how about ‘Hands off the rim’?

Let’s get a handle on this thing.

Sheila Kozmin is a former high school English teacher pursuing a second career as a copy editor with her small business Edit on Demand.