The idea behind the #surprisemedrink trend is to give the barista a chance to get creative and deliver an off-menu, hand-picked concoction of their own making. Past videos have shown baristas serving up everything from a Rainbow Sherbet Frappuccino to a Hot Butterbeer Latte.
But Alk received a surprise of a different sort.
The incident was captured in a video that has since gone viral, with nearly 1 million views in 3 days.
Rather than accept the challenge, the Starbucks employee on the other side of the microphone responded dryly, “I can get you an iced water. That sounds good.”
Alk, who seemed taken aback by the sassy reaction, looked at the camera and said awkwardly, “Well, can you just make me something that sounds good?”
@kristenalk The barista did NOT pass the vibe check? #starbucksbarista #baristastarbucks #rudebarista #starbucksfail #starbuckschallenge #surprisemedrink #surprisemestarbucks #starbuckssurprisedrink #starbucksbaristarecipes #badstarbucksvisit #challengegonewrong #gonewrong #pickmydrink #starbuckschallenge2023 ♬ original sound – kristenalk
Later, Alk claimed the barista “did not pass the vibe check.” But she also admitted it was a busy day at the drive-thru, with a 35-minute wait for customers to get their order.
A divided response
The video has garnered nearly 6000 comments, with viewers split between being pro-barista or pro-Alk.
On one side of the divide, commenters seem shocked that a Starbucks employee would be rude to a customer. After all, as the old business mantra goes, “The customer is always right.”
“Nooooo u should def email Starbucks ’cause that’s not acceptable,” wrote smhh..b.
“As a barista, please ask for surprise me drinks; they are always so fun. Sorry, she was so mean to u,” wrote jimen
A Tiktok viewer named Syd joked, “That’s some dunkin’ behavior.”
On the other hand, some commenters found the whole #surprisemetrend insensitive and presumptuous, especially during a busy time when baristas are just trying to get through their orders.
“I’m on the barista’s side. There’s nothing worse than someone coming during/right after a rush, asking for a surprise,” wrote Chasia Binney.
“As a fast food worker, it’s not that we don’t want to make it, but we don’t know what your taste is, and not only that some come back bc they don’t like it,” Rosie explained.
Perhaps both sides are right.
As Alk said diplomatically at the end of the video, “I feel like it was a little bit rude, but I do understand that it might be annoying when people don’t just say what they want to order.”