Would you pay for a cup of hot water?

Give me some help here if you live in Israel or just visited or if you live overseas and just want to chime in. Tell me if I’m insane about being in disbelief. I’m hanging out at a coffee shop in Ra’anana (Israel) down the street from my home and I bought a cup of tea for NIS 13 (about $3.50). Not cheap by international standards. Tea is like a $1 or $2 in a lot of US cafes as I recall.

OK, so I’m paying a lot for tea but what I’m paying for like a lot of other people is actually the opportunity to get out of my house which is full of distractions and use their internet while occasionally sipping my overpriced tea. It’s an unwritten understanding between writers like me or other coffee shop consumers toting laptops or tablets and cafe’s with wifi. Others like me stay there an indeterminate amount of time for the price of a beverage. Working in the industry, if I see anyone else might be waiting for a table I won’t prolong my loitering, which costs the cafe money for business they might lose. But during slower times you actually help draw people in. Most people prefer dining where it looks busy and not deserted.

Anyway, I’m OK with what’s going down and then I go up to ask for some more hot water to seep my once used tea bag in since you can often get more than one cup from one bag and its something I’ve done maybe hundreds of times at coffee shops in Israel and overseas and I didn’t even ask the server to do it. I brought it up to the bar. I also do it at home. It’s not wine after all. It’s tea.

I asked the bartender who happened to be the manager for some more hot water and she asked me if I wanted another tea. I replied no I just wanted some hot water and she asked again do I want another tea. Where was this going and when and how would it stop? So, I asked her if she was asking me if I wanted to buy another bag and I didn’t. I just wanted hot water than she finally volunteered it was policy to even charge for just hot water for a refill. FULL PRICE. I was dumbstruck. I think my reply was “Are you kidding me?” or something like that.

They’re charging at least NIS 2 more than any restaurant on the same block for tea and when I mentioned it to the staff of another eatery they thought it was gauging like I did and said they didn’t charge for hot water refills. Even the servers at the same cafe said it was policy but that when the managers aren’t there they don’t adhere by it because they’re embarrassed by it.

What are your thoughts?

About the Author
David Rhodes is a New England native who spent 16 years in California before moving to Israel in 2008; David is a certified Holistic Health Practitioner since 1992, has worked as a cook in several kitchens and has served as an adviser for San Diego State University's Business of Wine program, from which he graduated. David has worked as a consulting sommelier at wineries and restaurants in California and in Israel. David has written hundreds of articles about Israeli food, wine, beer and spirits as well as interviewed Ambassadors to Israel from China, the Netherlands, South Korea and Cyprus.