If you avoid caffeine for any reason, you may have had second thoughts about ordering a decaf cup of coffee when you’re out to eat.
There have been news stories dating back several decades where journalists have performed investigative assessments of the caffeine content in cups of decaf from various restaurants, in which they discovered guests were served fully caffeinated coffees or ones that were “watered down.”
This is something that a Waffle House customer said they saw happen firsthand during a visit to one of the franchise’s locations. TikToker Maddi Moon (@immadeimoon) posted about the experience in a trending clip that’s accrued over 78,000 views and 3,700 likes in less than a day on the platform.
@immadeimoon Love that for me & everyone served “decaf” by this server. #waitressthings #waitress #wafflehouse ♬ the way things go – beabadoobee
In the video, Moon appears to be at home enjoying takeout from the popular breakfast chain.
She writes in a text overlay: “That time at Waffle House when I asked the waitress for decaf. I see her pour a cup half of regular coffee *then adds hot water brings it over to me good to know.”
In the comments section, many TikTokers who said they worked in the food service industry revealed they were instructed to prepare coffee for customers who requested decaf in a similar fashion.
“I was training at a restaurant and one of the servers told me that if we didn’t have any decaf brewed just give them normal coffee. I did not go back,” one commenter wrote.
Several shared that they did this for other drinks as well.
“While serving a girl told me ‘you know, when someone asks me for coke zero i just do half diet coke and half regular coke’.. i said girl….,” one viewer shared.
“We didn’t have unsweetened tea so sometimes we’d water down the sweet,” another said.
However, some servers said they would never serve a customer something they didn’t particularly request: “That’s unbelievable, as a server I WOULD never.”
Other commenters pointed out the potential health issues that could arise from this kind of behavior: “my family has diabetes really bad and i serve and i hate when i hear serves give reg coke for diet. or something so small can really injure someone so,” one user shared.
“Me with a heart condition knowing the second they add caffeine cuz I get hot, sweaty, palpitations, flush, etc. they’re so not funny,” another said.
The issue of being served regular coffee after ordering decaf has also been brought up on other social media platforms, and users have offered tips to concerned diners about steps they can take to be extra cautious.
In a Reddit post uploaded by a diner with a heart condition who was worried about being served caffeinated coffee, one user who commented on the post suggested that they should inform servers about their health concerns. “Honestly, tell them about your heart condition. They should more than understand and make more [of] an effort not to mess up,” the Redditor wrote.
And, in one Quora forum discussion, a former barista informed folks that fresh pots of decaf were usually brewed later in the day, as the demand for decaffeinated beverages usually comes from people who want a hot drink but don’t want caffeine to keep them up late at night.
The Daily Dot contacted Waffle House via email and Maddi Moon via TikTok comment for further information.