What not to do in a coffee shop, according to a barista

Don’t just say ‘I want a coffee’


Working as a barista can be a really good job. We’re always busy, meet the most interesting people and my co-workers are great fun. But most of the time it isn’t easy. You’re on your feet for the whole shift and your customer service skills have to be on top form at all times.

Of course, that’s to be expected. But sometimes customers are guilty of making our job a whole lot tougher than it should be. From being excruciatingly indecisive to “give me a coffee”, there’s a few things we really wish you guys wouldn’t do.

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Smiling through the pain after a long shift at work

Stop talking on the phone when I’m serving you

This is one of the most irritating things that you could do as a human being. If you’re not paying attention to me, then why should I bother paying attention to your order? Honey, don’t give me a “one minute” finger, because I’ll just want to give you the finger.

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Please make your decision before you enter a mammoth queue

I’m indecisive, so I understand that there are too many choices. If you’re unsure you can always ask me for a recommendation. But please don’t be that person who takes hours to decide if they want a Vanilla or Caramel Cappuccino when they practically taste the same. Know what you want, and I’ll give it you.

But don’t just say “I want a coffee”

There’s about a dozen coffees to choose from, so give me a bit of help. I don’t know if you like it strong, weak or milky, and you’re bound to complain if I get it wrong if you let me pick. But I hope you know what you’ve ordered when you asked for a caramel macchiato.

It gets really, really loud in here, so speak up

I have good hearing, so if I can’t hear you it’s because you’re not speaking loud enough. I can’t lip read, I’m not a coffee whisperer and I left my crystal ball at home, so please don’t mumble your order under your breath.

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Don’t change your order when I’ve practically made your drink

Ok good, now you know what you’re ordering. I take your order. I am seconds away from completing the frothing of your milk and then you decide that this is the right moment to tell me that you’re trying out veganism and want soya milk instead. No.

Don’t take someone else’s drink

Sounds stupid, but it always happens. Unfortunately I don’t work in Starbucks where we can get up close and personal with you by writing your name incorrectly on the cup. The drinks come one after another as they have been ordered. So if you ordered a regular Americano and someone else’s large hazelnut Cappuccino has just been made. IT’S NOT YOURS.

Not only do you clearly not know what your coffee looks like, but this causes further confusion for us. We end up having to make another drink for the impatient person in front, and are left with an unclaimed one. Congratulations, you’ve just caused a traffic jam.

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Saying “please” and “thank you” go a long way

It’s 8am on a Monday morning, you’re not caffeinated. But that isn’t an excuse to be rude to me when ordering your triple shot soya milk mixed mocha. I had to get up at 6am to get the bus from two towns away just to serve you this drink, so at least have some common courtesy. Sometimes I even get customers coming up to the bar and simply saying “I want an Americano”. Well I also want a lot of things in life but I’m not going to get them by demanding my way through. Be polite, and I’ll be polite back.

The Tab Warwick

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