British comedian Tiffany Stevenson felt her anger brewing as she waited in line at a London Starbucks. Ahead of her, a pregnant woman had placed an order for a regular caramel macchiato but the 30-something male barista suggested she make it a decaf.
When the customer refused to switch, the man behind the counter informed her that “caffeine is bad for the baby,” according to a series of tweets posted by Stevenson on May 18. During the exchange, the pregnant woman explained that she only drinks one caffeinated beverage a day, to which the barista allegedly replied, “But… you shouldn’t.” That’s when Stevenson nearly boiled over.
“I said, ‘Unbelievable! Stop it!’ the "Mother" actress told TODAY Parents. “Then he tried to justify it by saying, ‘caffeine is bad for the baby.’ He insisted he was trying to do what’s best for the customer and I said, ‘She knows what’s best for her.’”
The behavior described by Stevenson is not consistent with how Starbucks aims to serve its patrons. A Starbucks spokesperson told TODAY Parents: “As a matter of policy, we trust our customers to make decisions that are right for them, and we take pride in creating a welcoming, warm environment in our stores.”
Starbucks is reviewing the incident. Stevenson, who labeled the incident “womb bothering,” told TODAY Parents that the woman in the store was grateful for her support.
The woman in Starbucks had every right to order that caramel macchiato Dr. Jill Hechtman told TODAY Parents. But the obstetrician-gynecologist in Tampa, Florida, does recommend limiting intake to about one to two 8-ounce cups a per day. (Excessive intake might produce a low birth weight baby, per The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.) “A little bit is not going to hurt your unborn child. It’s completely safe,” Dr. Hechtman noted. “In no way should the barista have judged her like that. It wasn’t his place.”
Stevenson’s tweets set off a chain of discussion with many women sharing their own stories of being shamed. “Had the exact same thing when I was pregnant. I was angry for days,” wrote one person. Added another: “When I was pregnant, I had a stranger in an elevator say to me ‘Oooh should you really be drinking coffee, Mum?’ It’s not coffee. It’s none of your business. And unless I’ve given birth to you, don’t call me Mum.’
Back in 2016, a then-pregnant Pink was inundated with criticism and unsolicited advice after she Instagrammed a photo of herself drinking decaf coffee.
“Three doctors told me coffee is coffee decaf or not,” wrote one troll. “Feeding addictive stimulants to an unborn baby. Well, that’s your choice… I just stayed away from anything that may disturb my baby’s growth.”
The rocker found the fuss amusing, and shared an article about the backlash on Twitter, writing, “This was a really good laugh. Enjoy over a cup of coffee.”