The Internet Is Divided About This Starbucks 'Secret Message'

At cafes like Starbucks, it's pretty common for the barista to write on your cup. However, this is usually limited to writing your name and order so you are given the correct beverage. So when one barista left a flirty note on a customer's cup, naturally it went viral.

At first glance, the message seems harmless, stating, "Secret message," and including an error pointing to the bottom of the cup. However, upon looking further, an important message about the beverage being hot has been edited to include a steamier note, reading, "Careful... you're... extremely hot." For many people, this could be considered flattering. We all like to receive compliments now and then, right?

But for others, including a number of people who commented on the Reddit post, it was concerning — due to the potential for injury or harassment lawsuits. How could such a seemingly simple message on a Starbucks cup lead to so much controversy? Well, as it turns out, people have pretty good reasons to be leery of the situation. 

The fine line between flirting and harassment

It's important to note that those warning labels are there to keep people safe (and you know, ward off lawsuits alleging burns). According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 33% to 58% of annual burn hospitalizations are caused by hot liquids. And even though burns are pretty bad for a business, you could argue sexual harassment charges are worse. >What one party views as flirting could easily be perceived by another party as unwanted attention. Newsweek points out that the message is situational, but necessary to the conversation about the "prevalence of sexual harassment in everyday society."

In another Reddit thread, Starbucks baristas and customers agreed that, while in some situations flirting might be okay, it is by and large unprofessional. If the customer is uncomfortable, the situation can quickly turn into an ugly legal battle.

On the other hand, as Redditor Turtle-Fox pointed out, customers should "make sure you're not misinterpreting customer service for flirtation." In this particular situation, there's no doubt the barista was being flirty. Given the photo's caption, we can guess that the customer was fine, but this won't always be the case.