Barista Refuses to Serve Coffee to a Pregnant Woman ... for Reals

coffeeWe've heard plenty of stories about pregnant women being denied alcohol in restaurants and bars, but coffee? Unfortunately, it's true: An expectant mom in Australia wrote this week about a barista who refused to serve her caffeine because of her visible bump -- yes, caffeine!


Alexandra Smith, education editor for the Syndey Morning Herald, is 27 weeks pregnant with her third baby -- so, as she writes, unsolicited comments from strangers are nothing new. "I have heard it all from family, friends and plenty of strangers. As a mother-to-be, my body and looks have become fair game," she says.

But unwanted advice and cracks about the size of your ankles are one thing -- when strangers feel the need to interfere with your personal choices, that's another entirely. Which is exactly what happened when Smith tried to order a coffee and the barista gave her this incredibly condescending (not to mention medically uninformed) response:

"No. No caffeine for you."

Smith thought she heard the barista wrong at first. As she points out, "This was a coffee I was a ordering, not a martini."

But nope. The barista -- as in, barista, not obstetrician -- decided that it was his duty to police the (completely harmless) actions of a complete stranger. Why? I can only assume that he saw an episode of a sitcom once where a pregnant character went to comically ridiculous lengths to avoid coffee, or he saw a post on his Facebook feed linking to a study about caffeine and pregnancy (but didn't actually read the article) and decided that, based on this extensive body of medical knowledge, it was his right and privilege to refuse service to a woman well within her rights as a customer and a mother.

More from The Stir: Drinking Coffee While Pregnant: The Latest on How It Affects Your Baby

I have three kids. With every pregnancy, my doctor (I had different doctors for each, by the way) told me that one cup of coffee per day was perfectly safe. Because I was a paranoid new mom-to-be, I gave up caffeine during my first pregnancy anyway, but with the other two I definitely took advantage of my one-cup-a-day allowance. And I can tell you that if some barista ever tried to pull this with me, I would likely not have reacted as graciously and calmly as Smith, who apparently accepted an extremely milky flat white as a consolation prize and went on her dejected way. There are just so many things wrong with this scenario. First, it's yet another example of how pregnant women's bodies are treated like public domain. Second, it's yet another example of mansplaining at its worst: "Silly woman, you can't be trusted to know what's best for you and your unborn child. Let me, a non–medically trained barista, tell you what to do."

Here's hoping somebody schools that guy on the actual science regarding caffeine and pregnancy -- and that that person throws in a lesson on manners, as well. And I hope Smith is enjoying a nice hot latte right now!


Image via Brandon Shea/Flickr 

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