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Weigh In on the Babycino Controversy

February 18, 2012

Is one ever too young to enjoy the coffee shop environment? Do kids belong in the café? Is the babycino too cute? Whatever you might think of kids in the coffee shop, a controversy of sorts developed recently in Australia when a mom designed a babycino fundraiser. According to the article in BeanScene Magazine, a babycino is a frothed milk drink decorated with chocolate sprinkles or chocolate syrup, generally served with some kind of marshmallow decoration. For a month, coffee shops had agreed to give away free babycino’s with orders of paying customers with kids. The parents were asked to give a donation in lieu of paying for the treat. The funds raised were donated to the Sydney Children’s Hospital.





Many people misunderstood the fundraiser and a controversy developed over other issues involving children in cafes and the drink itself. The drink is being served in many cafes and coffee shops, not only in Australia. So far, children in New Zealand, North America and Great Britain are enjoying the fairly healthy treat. In North America it’s called a “steamer” and in New Zealand it’s called a “fluffy”. Baristas express every reaction from cringing to gratitude it seems. Because it’s a little bit of an interruption, when there are a large number of coffee orders, it’s not a welcome part of a customer’s order. When the pace is slower, baristas are happy to provide extra service to the customer, who is more likely to become a regular.





The other side of the issue involves the appropriateness of giving a small child a coffee-like drink in the coffee shop environment, thus planting the seeds of future coffee lover and café patron. The mothers quoted in the article think it’s a great way to increase the family atmosphere of coffee shops, while some parents and some baristas do not want to cater that much to kids. It was implied that the extra noise might be a factor if lots of kids started coming in for the babycinos. That’s the bottom line. On the one hand, kids are good for some business, but if the noise becomes a factor, the home workers and students might take their laptops elsewhere. But not all kids are noisy, of course. What will happen to our coffee shop community though, if it starts looking more like a Baskin and Robbins or a Red Robin (gasp)? Will the climbing toys come next?





Regardless, no introduction to café culture will be complete unless kids bring in their baby laptops. Baristas will have to draw the boundaries and decide how much to cater to the little people. Once invited, kids will be there to stay, because as one mom stated, “There should be an acceptance of children in café culture - after all we are breeding the next generation of café lovers.” You can have fun at home by creating your own babycinos. Frothers come in handy for that.






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