I go to a lot of coffee shops. I'm not ashamed. Well, I'm a little ashamed, which is why I frequent so many different locations during the day. A lot of times, I try to land assignments that require me to go to these places so I have the excuse of, "Tee-hee, I'm totally just doing this for work, you guys," which is why I decided to interview the baristas I know — which turns out to be an almost embarrassing amount — to find out what people like me do in coffee shops that drive them batty. That way, I could "work" and suck down countless cups of coffee, and also pass that knowledge on to the masses. You can take this information and use it to give your local barista a big, metaphorical hug by not being a huge jerk.
These are actual quotes from former or current baristas, detailing the worst offenders:
"This is just rude anywhere, but especially in a busy coffee shop. Your phone conversation can surely wait the two minutes it takes you to order and pay, and if you are going to be a jerk and stay on the line, you absolutely cannot get angry at the people behind the counter, who just want to take your order. They should be angry at you for being so uncivilized."
So, if you've only ever been to a Starbucks (and I love me some Starbucks, so I'm not judging you), you might be surprised to learn that some of your favorite drinks are not what you think they are. The biggest offender is the caramel macchiato. If you order this in a place that isn't Starbucks, you're getting a very different, very strong drink. Same goes for ordering a Frappuccino or a "trenta" anything. If you don't do your homework and then get mad at someone for making you an actual coffee, then maybe other coffee shops are not for you.
Ew. I was sad to hear this, because I know the feeling. We don't snap our fingers at people, guys.
"I'm more than happy to try and move people in and out quickly when they're running late. But when people come in and bark about how late they are and then hang out for a half hour while we attempt to perform psychic tricks to figure out exactly how much mocha syrup is just right and dump drink after drink down the drain in pursuit of the magical ratio, we're not going to believe you the next time you say you have a flight to catch 'right now.'"
"Actually, there's nothing wrong with extra-hot milk. But every once in a while, someone wants their milk scorched and stinky and hot to the point of risking skin grafts. I worry for those people."
"Honey everywhere. Half-and-half splashed up against the windows. Coffee-soaked straw wrappers. Piles of sugar crunching underfoot. Why?"
"For instance, once, a girl ordered a pretty specific drink; let's say it was a grande vanilla latte. We put up a totally different drink for someone else, with their name on it and everything. She grabbed it, took a sip and then screamed at us because it wasn't her grande vanilla latte. Really? You thought we wrote 'Kevin' on that venti chai by accident? Unbelievable."
"Believe it or not, people have grabbed a dollar or whatever from the tip jar to help pay for their drinks."
This barista didn't elaborate, but I know this is true firsthand. Once I was behind a man in line who kept loudly referring to Starbucks as "Star-sucks" and wondered aloud to the poor barista if she even knew how to make real coffee. This was in downtown Austin, in a place where, if you threw a rock, you would have hit a small, local coffee shop.
Latecomers suck in every corner of the service industry, but I bet it's really confounding for baristas who have to pretend to laugh at how you "definitely won't be able to sleep now!" while ordering a red-eye 10 minutes after closing.
Very funny, guys.
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