Dunkin Donuts Asks Us to Serve Ourselves

1197477009Because we’re a bunch of misanthropes, we avoid interacting with people as much as possible. After a stressful day at the office, the last thing we want to deal with is a bank teller that requests three forms of identification to deposit a $20 check, or a cashier at Star Market who’s out of ones. But the one place we do look forward to a little human touch is at our neighborhood Dunkin Donuts.

But in its continued bid to mess with success, the chain is opening some self-serve locations in gas stations.

The Canton chain unveiled a pair of agreements yesterday that will land self-service Dunkin’ coffee-and-doughnut kiosks in Hess gas stations and in office building break rooms, cafeterias and other large food service venues through Sara Lee Foodservice.

Hess initially will add the self-service Dunkin’ kiosks to at least 175 of its gas stations next year, primarily outside of New England in states including Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The two companies started testing the service in July 2006.

If you’ve ever been out west, you know that the Dunkin locations out there are like a funhouse mirror version of the ones we know and love in New England. On a road trip to Colorado, we were appalled when the employee handed us our medium hazelnut without the cream and sugar. She motioned to a counter covered with a thick layer of cream splatters and dissolved sugar.

It’s just not the Dunkin Donuts experience without the professionals meting out the proper proportions of dairy and sugar for us. Sometimes they slip up, but it’s a risk we’ll take to avoid peeling the lid off our scalding hot coffee, waiting around a dirty island for the half-and-half pitcher to get set down, and fumbling for our sweetener of choice. Without the loving touch of Dunkin’ staff, all these locations are just another outlet for stale gas station coffee.