Top 10: Do’s and don’ts from a barista

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Now that Halloween is over, coffee season is officially in full swing. We’ve had our first snow, and now that the sun is shining less and less, everyone needs caffeine from their favorite coffee shop to start the day. With so many people in coffee shops, it’s necessary to observe some common courtesy that will make everyone’s day go a little bit smoother. Today I’ll cover the 10 do’s and don’ts of coffee shop etiquette – as well as some hacks.

Do: Tip your barista

This one is actually pretty easy. Most customers I’ve encountered simply round up the dollar or put their leftover change in the jar. For example, if their drink is $3.18, then they put 82 cents in the jar. It eliminates the extra pocket change, and it goes directly toward the baristas – unless you work at Caribou Coffee, where we donate all our tips to JDRF (Junior Diabetes Research Foundation). Even still, your leftover change can mean the world to someone.

Don’t: Talk on the phone while ordering

All my coworkers agree that this is one of the worst behaviors a customer can have while ordering their drink. It’s one thing to hang up the phone or put the caller on hold while you order so you can resume the conversation later, but talking into your phone while the cashier is punching your order into the register is a miserable experience. There’s also a higher chance for miscommunication between customer and barista.

Do: Listen for your name

When it gets especially busy there will inevitably be a multitude of drinks on the takeout counter at a time. It’ll get backed up no matter what, but there’s an easy way to avoid this – simply listen for your name. If you are proactive about taking your drink instead of waiting several minutes to pick it up, then there’s less confusion and you can leave quicker.

Don’t: Take every drink off the counter

Tying into the previous paragraph, when it gets busy, there will be multiple drinks on the takeout counter. If you don’t hear your name and go to get your drink when there are already several drinks on the counter, don’t pick up a drink. If you take a sip from a drink when it isn’t yours, spill it, or even pick it up, then the drink must be remade. This is required by health codes regardless of where you go. To avoid this, listen for your name. If you miss your name, just ask the barista which one is your order, and they’ll tell you.

Do: Order your iced coffee without ice

This is a hack that really only works with non-proportional drinks like standard coffee, tea and lemonade. You will get more drink if you order without ice because ice takes up space in the cup. When the ice is removed, there is more drink. However, if you want your drink to be cold but still want more drink than the regular order, then order your drink with light ice. It’s also a good idea to not get ice because the longer it sits, the more the ice melts, which also means your drink will get watery and unappetizing.

Don’t: Order without ice for lattes and mochas

Lattes and mochas are drinks that are based on a proportional measuring system. Iced lattes are made in the following order: espresso shots, milk to a fill line on the side of the cup and the rest of the cup filled with ice. If a customer orders a drink with no ice, we are still instructed to fill the cup to the very top. Without ice this means the remainder of the space is filled with milk. The drink will contain more milk this way, but the proportion of espresso to milk is skewed. This is especially noteworthy in mochas, where the main taste is supposed to be chocolate. With extra milk the chocolate is less noticeable. However, if you like the taste of extra milk, then go for it.

Do: Taste your drink before you leave

This especially applies to drinks you’ve never ordered before. If you don’t like your drink, then you can exchange it with the barista and they’ll likely make a new one. This is also important even if you’ve had the drink before because there’s still a chance the barista may have made it wrong. They may have used the wrong chocolate, flavor syrup or milk. The barista may not catch this mistake, so it’ll be up to you to point out the mistake. You won’t be able to keep the wrong one, as it is company policy to take it back, but you will get your correct order. You likely won’t be able to exchange it if you come back later because then the circumstances are suspicious. Be sure to taste your drink to make sure you like it and got the correct order before leaving.

Don’t: Stay the whole day

Most coffee shops offer free refills on plain coffee and teas the same day you order them. However, this does not mean that a customer can stay the whole day and continue to get free coffee and tea. It’s bad for business, not to mention that the baristas won’t be able to clean the section of the shop you’re in until you leave. This will vary depending on the employee, but it might get to the point that a manager will refuse to serve you after a certain amount of time that you remain in the shop. All in all, if you really need the caffeine, order a cold brew and stay for a little while before moving on.

Do: Be patient

Depending on what you order, how busy the shop is, the barista’s proficiency level and the number of employees, the time it takes to receive your drink will always vary. Smoothies and other blended drinks, drinks that require espresso or steaming and coffee that needs to be freshly brewed will always take awhile. These factors are often out of the barista’s control. If you want your drink to be done well and correctly, don’t pressure the barista to work faster. Waiting patiently is what will make the gears of the coffee shop continue to run smoothly.

Don’t: Be annoying to the people around you

This can apply to a lot of things. For example, don’t listen to music or watch videos without headphones, don’t hog a sitting area or table and don’t heckle the baristas. The vast majority of customers in a coffee shop just want to get their caffeine fix and leave. Should you choose to stay, making a ruckus will likely ruin the baristas’ shifts and make other customers want to leave. It’s bad for business. Just as you should in all of life, be considerate to those around you.

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