Coffee Shop Etiquette 101
My sister and I called it a fake sun when we were little. You know those days in the dead of winter where its bright and breezy, but every breath you take stings the inside of your nostrils a bit? The grass and the roads glitter with frost like a drag queen at a party and all around you’ll see people dressed up in puffy coats like Peeps Marshmallows; walking fast to enjoy the beauty of the day.
One Saturday afternoon characterized by freezing temperatures and a fake sun delivered a couple Peep Marshmallows right into the warm inviting doors of a french bakery in magnolia, where I worked part time as a coffee barista.
“Bonjour!” one of the marshmallows said. [An aging male with a hint of white mustache peeping through his scarf]
“Hello!” I had chirped back, as I struggled to put on a clear plastic glove in anticipation of bagging one of the delicious pastries in front of me.
“No French?” He asked incredulously.
I gave a light laugh. “No French, sorry.”
“But why?” He inquired “20% of African countries speak French!”
Now I can’t see out of my body but I can almost guarantee my syrupy fake smile turned to stone. “I’m from Canada”
“Still!” he said, undeterred, “Canada is a bilingual nation!”
Hip cocked, I leaned across the counter and unset my lips to say “Yes Quebec is largely French speaking, I’m from Ontario. And besides, in Africa 20% is still a pretty small number”
He bellowed out a laugh as my manager rounded the corner. “Your barista is a sassy one!” He said.
My manager just smiled nervously.
This is just one example of the stupid interactions I encounter every day. Over the course of my 6 months of employment at the bakery, I have compiled a very large list of things that irritate not only me, but plenty of other baristas as well. Maybe I’m not made for customer service, maybe I’m tired of babying grown adults. Either way I am going to teach you some etiquette. Hopefully the next coffee shop you visit you will know how to mind your P’s and Q’s.
Do Not Ask Anything Along The Lines Of:
1. “My goodness! How early do you have to be up every day to work here?”
Very fucking early. Please do not remind me.
2. “Is this my Americano?”
Debra, you ordered an 8 oz americano. This is a 16 oz cappuccino for Keith. Do the math. Also, read the cup.
3. “Wow it’s so busy! Is it like this every day?”
4. “Do you have decaf?”
Yes. Read the menu. It’s in front of you.
5. “Do you just have plain old coffee?”
Yes. It’s called drip coffee. Read the menu. Its in front of you.
6. “Can I see what beans you use?”
A) Who gives a shit?
B) We’re a boujee independent coffee shop that prides itself on being better than Starbucks. Just assume the beans are good and don’t waste my time. Next.
7. "Do you know what [insert pretentious coffee order] is?"
Knowing the finite details that separate a variety of similar drinks is my job, so yes. Do not insult me.
8. “Are you open?”
The lights are off and the sign says closed. Take a guess.
Do Not Do These Things:
1. Leave your dirty dishes on the table or - god forbid – put them on the coffee bar. There is almost always a bus tub. Look for it.
2. Ask for your coffee to be a specific degree. Unless you’re at Starbucks know that every other barista will not give a rats ass and we will make it as hot as we want
3. Make a big deal about sugar free syrups. Sugar is sugar fake or real. You are still being unhealthy.
4. Act incredibly superior because you ordered a ristretto or café vienna or some pretentious shit. We are not impressed. If you want to play the boujee coffee order game, ask any barista what go-to drink he/she makes for themselves every day and you will learn your place in our world very fast.
5. Stand in that little alley between the espresso machine bar and the floor. Baristas adore having an entire counter and huge machinery between us and you. Do not compromise that for any reason ever.
6. Yell your order at us while your standing in a long line waiting to order. Unless I ask I do not want your coffee order early, as I am probably busy with lots of other orders. Wait your turn like a good little preschool graduate okay?
7. Order your drink without telling us the size. And no, small/medium/large, is not a size. This is not McDonalds. And we have more than 3 sizes. Ounces please!
Things To Know:
1. All drinks typically come standard with 2 shots and whole milk. Do not specify these things in your drink order because it is redundant, and we hate redundant.
2. A Macchiato is two shots of espresso with a touch of foam. It is not a large vanilla/caramel concoction you get from Starbucks. If you want the large syrupy milkshake type shit, please specify.
3. Its useless to order an extra hot almond/coconut milk latte as these milks tend to burn very fast. We will make it the hottest we can, which is still a bit cooler than regular milk.
4. If you take a second to read the menu before opening your mouth, you will typically have a lot of initial questions answered.
5. Its useless to order a 16 or 20 oz anything to be honest. You do not get more coffee you get more milk or water. If you absolutely need that much liquid in your body at once, please have the decency to get a triple shot drink. Its still a lot but now we’re talking.
And there you have it. One thing to ultimately know is that some baristas (like me) are assholes who hate most people; and by entering our beloved coffee haven and breathing your filthy plebian air you are already in direct violation of our values. However if you can avoid doing all the above, our buoyant morning grins will be just a touch less fake. Cheers!