¿Have you ever wondered how many times, without realizing it, we have annoyed the barista who serves us at the coffee shop? Sometimes, without bad intentions, we behave inappropriately and hide behind the phrase “the customer is always right”.
In this article, I’ve compiled a brief list of actions that should be avoided to prevent annoying your barista. And all of these actions are based on past experiences from when I worked as a barista.
1. Avoid talking on the phone when placing your order or paying.
talking on the phone when ordering or paying, this action is considered impolite, as it can create an unnecessary wait for other customers in line.
In addition, it is complicated for the barista to take note of your order while trying to understand what you are saying over the phone, which can lead to confusion and delays in preparing your coffee.
It is almost impossible to differentiate which information on the call is for your mother and which pertains to your coffee’s preparation.
➡️ If you want to avoid disturbing the barista and other customers, place your order or pay in silence and without distractions.
2. Pay attention to your order once you have placed it.
Forgetting what you ordered or getting distracted while waiting can lead to confusion and mistakes in preparing your coffee.
If I had been paid a few cents every time someone ordered one type of coffee, and when it was time to pick it up, they thought they had ordered another, or when they took someone else’s coffee, I would be a millionaire today!
If this happens, the barista will have to make an extra effort to correct the mistake and prepare your drink again, which can generate an unnecessary wait for you and the other customers in line.
➡️ To avoid this situation, pay attention to your order from the moment you place it until you receive it in your hands. If you have any doubts or changes, communicate them clearly to the barista to avoid confusion. This way, preparing your coffee will be much more fluid and efficient.
3. Avoid making excessively personalized requests when placing your order.
Although it is normal to have preferences regarding the preparation of your coffee, excessive personalization can generate inconveniences for the barista and the other clients in the queue.
Instead of making endless and complicated requests, try to be clear and concise when placing your order, avoiding adding ingredients or details that may hinder the preparation of your drink.
The barista will be able to focus on preparing a quality coffee instead of wasting time and energy in fulfilling an excessively personalized request.
Imagine the coffee shop full, with an endless queue. You get that customer who asks for a super personalized Cappuccino: With oat milk, but with double froth, with cocoa between the coffee and the milk, with cinnamon on top, and to finish the order, that customer asks you to add sugar before pouring the milk.
➡️ Remember that simplicity is key in most cases and that the most important thing is to enjoy a good cup of coffee.
4. The fake cappuccino
Be aware of what you are ordering and avoid making combinations that can generate confusion or misunderstandings. If you order a double espresso in a large cup and then ask for “some milk”, it is possible that the barista will interpret it as an order for a cappuccino and, therefore, charge you the corresponding price.
I still wonder if this type of order is made intentionally or out of sheer ignorance of the types of coffee that exist 🤔.
➡️ To avoid this situation, order clearly and precisely what you want, and avoid making combinations or requests that may confuse the barista or yourself. If you have any doubts or need clarification, do not hesitate to ask the barista to avoid uncomfortable situations.
5. Complaining about prices
It is important to remember that each coffee shop can establish its prices according to its own costs and business strategies.
Complaining about coffee prices or additional products is useless and can be uncomfortable for the barista doing his or her job.
Maybe these people think that by complaining about the cost of a coffee, the barista will say: Ohhh, he is right! Here is a discount
➡️ If the price of a particular coffee shop does not fit your budget, simply look for another place to have coffee. Remember that it is important to value the work and effort of baristas and support local businesses that offer quality products.
6. Respect specialty coffee shops
Many establishments specializing in coffee have an ambiance and décor that clearly focus on this beverage. Despite this, some people still enter the establishment asking about other products that have nothing to do with coffee.
It is acceptable to ask, but it is important to consider the context before asking questions that can be easily answered by simply looking around.
Being asked for ice cream or sandwiches in the coffee shop was normal. However, I was asked if we sold pizza! I still wonder if the customers were doing it to annoy me.
➡️ If you walk into a place that is a café with no visible dining table or kitchen, asking if they have a lunch menu or sell ice cream is simply not understanding the context of the place.
7. Correcting the order over and over again
Sometimes we may change our mind about our order, and it is fine to communicate this to the barista. However, it is important to remember that over-correcting can be irritating.
Imagine ordering a double espresso and then asking to add milk and change it to a larger cup. Then you ask for some cocoa and honey and finally realize you wanted it decaf. This was commonplace when I worked as a barista.
Nothing is more frustrating for a barista than making and unmaking the same order repeatedly.
➡️ Before placing an order, ensure it’s what you want. And if you change your mind, try to communicate clearly and concisely to the barista so they can prepare your order without any problems.
8. Snapping your fingers or whistling
There is no justification for snapping your fingers or whistling to get the barista’s attention. It is disrespectful and inappropriate behavior that should not be tolerated in any establishment.
The barista deserves the same respect as any other professional and should be treated as such. Instead of snapping your fingers or whistling, wait your turn patiently and treat the barista with courtesy and respect.
You should know that when a customer snapped his fingers or whistled at me, I ignored him and served other customers first, even if they had arrived later.
➡️ Remember that how you treat yourself depends on how you treat others.
9. Undecided groups
If you arrive at the cafeteria in a group, the best thing to do is to decide beforehand what you want to order and then order in individual shifts.
You can’t imagine how difficult it is to order ten people when everyone is talking simultaneously. Chances are you’ll end up mixing them up.
➡️ Also, if the cafeteria is crowded and other customers are present, it is important to be considerate of them and not interrupt their dining experience with unnecessary yelling and noise.
10. Mistaking the cafeteria for an office
Understandably, sometimes a person needs to work or hold a meeting in a coffee shop, but when turning the coffee shop into your office daily, you need to consider other options.
Many people come to coffee shops and order a coffee and then occupy a table for hours, using Wi-Fi and constantly asking for tap water, plugs, paper, pens, and other resources.
➡️ The coffee shop is not an office; the resources provided there are designed for coffee consumption, not office use. If you need an office, it is better to look for a suitable solution and not abuse the hospitality of a coffee shop.
11. Tapping the counter with a coin
Nothing is more annoying to a barista than the constant sound of someone tapping a coin on the counter.
Just like finger snapping or whistling, when a customer taps a coin on the counter, he or she will be served last.
➡️ If you are in a hurry or restless, try to stay calm and avoid making that distracting noise that annoys the staff working there. It’s important to remember that the baristas are doing their best to serve you as quickly as possible, and constant ticking doesn’t help speed up the process.
12. Throwing money on the counter
Throwing money on the counter or throwing it in a derogatory manner toward the barista is disrespectful.
In my barista days, if a coin fell off the counter, I did not go and get it and asked the customer for another one.
➡️ If you don’t specify what you are paying for or a coin gets lost, you only create confusion and delay service. Remember that the cafeteria staff also deserves to be treated with politeness and respect.
13. Place a staggered order
If you have several orders, place them all together. Don’t order one at a time while the barista is trying to serve you. This only causes confusion and unnecessary delays.
I imagine the customer does this to make the barista’s job easier, but baristas can remember more than one order at a time.
➡️ Take a few minutes to decide what you want before you place your order so you can do it all at once. You’ll save time and ensure your coffee shop experience goes smoothly.
14. Getting angry for no reason
It is normal that, on occasion, baristas make a mistake when preparing your order, either because of confusion in taking the order or an error in the preparation.
It is not normal for a barista to make mistakes when preparing orders, but sometimes it happens. How often have I seen clients go crazy because I served them the wrong coffee?
➡️ In these cases, the best thing to do is to keep calm and politely tell the barista what has happened. There is no need to get angry, yell or insult. Remember that barista will do their best to correct their mistake and ensure you have a pleasant experience at the coffee shop.
15. Using cups as trash cans.
Please remember that cups are not trash cans. Do not use the empty cup to deposit garbage, chewing gum, or cigarette butts; there is a specific garbage can for this waste.
If a cup has only coffee in it, the barista can put it directly in the dishwasher, but if there is any garbage in it, it must first be cleaned by hand before it can be washed. This isn’t very pleasant!
➡️ Respecting spaces and objects is fundamental to maintaining a good relationship between customers and baristas. If the cup is dirty or has food or beverage residue, leave it on the counter so the barista can remove it and clean it properly.
16. Not greeting or thanking
It is important to remember that baristas are also people and deserve respect and courtesy, just like any other worker. Not saying hello or thank you may seem insignificant, but it can greatly impact the barista’s attitude and mood.
When I received a “hello” and a “thank you,” they made my day so much better and enjoyable.
➡️ Not only is it polite, but it also helps establish a friendly and respectful relationship with the coffee shop staff. Remember, a small token of gratitude can make all the difference.
17. And the worst: hitting on the barista.
The last point is especially important because it happens all too often.
It is unacceptable for a customer to hit you while working. The barista is not there to be an object of desire or to be harassed, but to provide a professional service.
➡️ Making inappropriate comments or being overly pushy is unacceptable and may be considered harassment. We all deserve respect in our workplace, and baristas are no exception. So please treat baristas with the same respect you would expect to receive in your workplace.
Ultimately, baristas are the wizards of coffee, the keepers of happiness, and those who turn gloomy mornings into memorable moments.
Therefore, we should be aware of the attitudes we can adopt as customers and treat them with respect, education, and gratitude. A simple “thank you” can improve their day, so don’t think twice about saying it.
In the end, everyone will win: they because they will feel that their work is valued and respected, and we because we will enjoy an even more delicious cup of coffee.