I got a coffee at the café the other day (yes, my life is full of excitement). It was your no-nonsense American black filtered coffee, served in a utilitarian white mug. I washed it down in no time. And then I asked for another. What I got was not another cup of coffee, but a REFILL.
The “refill” is a quintessentially American practice. It applies not only to coffee, but also to soft drinks (sadly, not alcoholic drinks… that would be a delightful but disastrous business model). You buy the drink once, then refill it to your heart’s desire without ever being charged for a second, third, fourth, or fifth cup.
If you’re at a diner, the coffee refill is likely to be repeatedly offered to you by a smiling, middle-aged, rotund waitress who perpetually circulates around the tables with a coffee pot in hand. If you’re at a fast food restaurant, you’ll probably have to get up to refill your own soda (yes, Americans drink several sodas in a row). But either way, you ain’t paying for it. Just like drinking water, it comes free and plenty.
Now some Europeans would say that the reason you get so many coffees is because you might as well be drinking water. For sure the coffee your’e getting free refills of isn’t an espresso or a cappuccino. It’s probably a pretty weak brew. Which is why you’ll likely agree to another. And you’ll never see the bottom of your cup for long.