22 Things Your Barista Wants You to Know (But Can’t Tell You)


You come into your favorite coffee shop on your morning commute to work and are greeted by the smiling face of your friendly neighborhood barista. You snag your coffee out of their hands and grunt something unintelligible at them as they wish you a great day, and then proceed to spill sugar and cream all over the counter. You may not even notice them, but your barista is hard at work to make your morning a little more bearable. Here are 22 things you can stop doing now to repay the favor, making their day a little brighter, too!

1. My bar is sacred; it is no place for you to drop your dirty mugs and dishes.

While I will always smile and say thanks/never chew you out for taking the time to actually clear your table of dishes, napkins, and crumbs, I am secretly glaring and screaming. I have a six-drink order piling up on my monitor, and now I’m also forced to be your bus girl (not to mention I have to disinfect the counter, too.) So thanks for the thought, but next time, try the nice, spacious bin that says “DISHES” in big, bold lettering.

2. Why “Oh, I’m so sorry, I meant to ask for almond milk. Could you please switch that for me?” is, actually, a problem: 

Alternative milk is an 85¢ up-charge, my friend. While overall, sparing you an extra 16 fluid ounces of alternative milk doesn’t directly affect me in any negative way, it does affect the coffee shop. If I play the nice barista and give you the almond milk for free, it won’t hurt me. But if other people catch on to this trick, it piles up quickly. 85¢ times one latte is no big thing, but 85¢ times twenty lattes adds up to a significant chunk of change (and at a lot of cafes, your barista may even be forced to literally pay for their kindness out of pocket, making up the difference.)

Also, if you really need that latte made with almond milk, you would probably remember while ordering.

3. DO NOT, under any circumstances, reach across the bar, into my sanctuary, to grab a spoon, a mug, a napkin, or anything else for that matter.

I am here for a reason. I am steaming this milk, as you can see, but I will be with you in just 15 short seconds to hand you a new lid. I know it seems like an absolute eternity to wait after you were just forced to wait 6 whole minutes for your latte, but I promise that I will gladly help you, momentarily. If you do decide to grab the lid for yourself, however, I will then be forced to discard an entire stack of lids, on the off chance you are carrying ebola or swine flu. I, however, wash my hands every time I switch tasks. It’s part of my job, so let me help you!

4. While I love that talking with people is part of the job description, please do not take the sighting of my wedding ring as impetus to begin a rant about your cheating bastard of an ex-husband.

I’m really sorry, I can’t imagine how much that blows, but this is my job, and this is not the time or place for this discussion. A lot of times my job really does resemble that of a bartender in that I hear life stories daily. I’ll gladly listen to your tale of woe, generally, but I’m not wild about you raining on my parade, or the fact that I have to often cut the conversation off to go back to a task and it seems rude on my end. 

5. We have heard every service related joke in the book; yours is not winning any awards.

Hi, here’s your cappuccino. Can I get you anything else?

“Um, yes, my truck is outside and could use a wash! Ha!”

Ma’am? That will be $4.51…

“Oh! You mean it’s not free? Guess I have to pay then, huh?”

While I know you are gleefully chuckling at the witty remark you just made, I’ve heard it about 10 times today. Continue on if you get a kick out of it, but please don’t think you’re changing our lives with your wit. 

6. It’s almost inevitable that, at some point in your coffee drinking career, your half caff Americano is going to be – wait for it – fully caffeinated.

Shocking and terrifying, I know. But it might also shock you to know that decaf coffee is also not completely without caffeine. 

7. You may not be getting full table service at a café, but if you decide to not tip your barista, they will take a heavy hit.

Your barista will generally try to make your drink beautiful and precisely as you want it. It takes knowledge, precision and mindfulness beyond what people generally consider, and most baristas still make somewhere close to minimum wage. That’s an issue for another day, but as far as your business goes, spare even just a dollar. It seems like next-to-nothing on you, and really adds up for us. 

8. If you’re on my good side, you may get an extra pump of flavor in your drink, just because I know you have a sweet tooth, and I think you’re cool.

Or I might take that extra shot I accidentally pulled and add it to your red eye. It can only bring a wealth of blessings upon your little head if you are my pal.

9. Coming up to me telling me that you’re a “coffee connoisseur” effectively assures me that you have approximately zero experience with coffee.

A guy recently came in off the street and said this one to me. He didn’t buy anything, just came right over to the bar and made his proclamation of prowess. He then proceeded to tell me his espresso machine was definitely nicer than the one at the café, and left. I’ve literally experienced this more times than I can count. Thanks for the laughs!

10. If you complain one more time about the lack of a dark roast in the shop, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.

If you want your burnt tasteless swill, you may head on over to the gas station around the corner.

11. I’m sorry, you want what size? We don’t serve Tall, Grande, and Venti coffees here. We do, however, have Small, Medium, and Large.

That’s all I have to say about that.

12. If you order a nonfat frappe with extra caramel and whipped cream, you can be pretty damn certain your drink is gonna be made with whole milk, my friend.

I’m not saying this always happens, but I mean… you do realize you added about 300 extra calories to your drink, and your “substitution” ultimately won’t make even a dent in your fat intake for the day, right? So I’ll give you your nonfat frappe, but it makes me giggle, that’s all.

13. I get that your phone call is way more important than me, but if your coffee is so important that you can’t wait another second, might I kindly ask that you PUT YOUR DAMN PHONE DOWN AND TALK TO ME WITH YOUR GROWN UP WORDS RATHER THAN GRUNTS AND SOUL-SHRIVELING GLARES.

Is that so hard?

14. Don’t for a second think that when you order a doppio espresso over ice, I’m not onto you. I clearly see through your little ruse.

You hop on over to the condiment bar and top off your 3 ounce drink with 11 more ounces of cream and 6 packets of sugar, and voila! You have a poor man’s latte! I’ve got you pegged, don’t I?

15. Why, yes, we do in fact have both free WiFi and a public restroom. However, it’s reserved for paying customers. And yes, I am aware that this is the ultimate cruelty and you just need to check the movie times and you’re about to have a really soggy issue if you can’t go RIGHT NOW, and how very correct you are: I AM AN AWFUL PERSON. To all of that, I have this to say:

Coffee is $1.65, good patron. You can deal with it. I believe in you.

16. Name-calling will do you no good.

I’ve had every name possible thrown at me; most of which I shouldn’t write here. It’s really sad that some people seem to get off on the sense of power it gives them to verbally abuse the poor soul who’s serving them. Just to be clear: your food and drink will not arrive any sooner if you get all vulgar with me.

17. Name-dropping will do you no good.

That’s so cool that you know the owner! Your latte will still be $4.

18. Flirting will do you no good.

I’m married. And even if I wasn’t, I’m working, I’m busy, I’m getting your drink. Please leave me to do so in peace.

19. Although I know it may seem like the ideal location for your illicit activities, we have only one bathroom here, and your 15-minute excursion to the loo has not gone unnoticed.

Our “facilities” are not the place for shooting up. There’s actually no good place for doing that, in my opinion, and I hope you can get some help and a really good hug from someone. But please, if you must do it, refrain from doing so here. I really have to pee.

20. If you order a macchiato, you may want to clarify what it is you’re looking for.

Although you (and the rest of the world) have been trained to think otherwise, a macchiato is not, in fact, a foamy, vanilla-y beverage with some pretty caramel crosshatching and whipped cream on top. A macchiato is, in all traditional circles, a 3 (or 6) ounce drink (depending on if you order a single or double) that is half espresso, half steamed milk. This isn’t us being “pretentious,” it’s just a fact. If you want that sugary goodness, that’s fine with me! Just be courteous and learn the terminology used at your local café. It’ll save you and your barista a lot of heartache.

21. By the time you get up to the counter to order, I have already tried to guess your order, and there’s pretty high likelihood I’ve guessed correctly.

If you’re a girl in a university pull-over, running leggings, a baseball cap, and you’re carrying your Longchamp, you’re a smoothie girl. If you’re a dude with diamond earrings and ultra-sagged pants, you’re about to be a bottomless refill coffee bro. There are about a million other (awful?) stereotypes I can throw out there, but the point is: I’ve been doing this for quite a long time, and at this point my track record is nearly flawless.

22. Never underestimate the power of a kind word; it may be the first and only kindness we encounter all shift.

When I say, “Hi! How are you today?” I am genuinely trying to make conversation. Small talk with customers may be tedious, but it is worlds better than being interrupted by, “Yeah, I’ll take a large coffee with cream and sugar, to go.” It may not mean much to you, but a simple smile can literally turn my day around.

image – Christy Yoder