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10 Tips From a Former Barista That Will Ensure The Best Coffee Experience Ever

Listen, I get that the empire that is Starbucks has been crumbling in the past few weeks. With closures due to public outrage, the coffee conglomerate has seen better days.

However, it doesn’t mean that one bad egg ruins the bunch. The bunch is human, the bunch gets that what happened is abhorred, the bunch still has to go into work the next day and deal with the hundreds of people yelling and screaming at their faces for something so insignificant like coffee being too bitter.

So show the bunch some humanity.

I’m not asking for sympathy, just decency towards the people that have been up since 4 A.M. trying to give you a little pep in your step.

I’ve been a barista for five years, give or take. I’ve seen pretty much everything there is to see when it comes to inept customers not getting the simple and relatively easy to understand ins and outs about coffee.

I see how this complaint could be petty, but petty turns to torture when it’s hammered into my head every day. The fact that I have nightmares of my face melting off from someone angrily throwing coffee at my face, telling me it tastes “like dirt,” is a problem.

Instead of getting angry for not getting what you want like a child, there are steps you can take to  keep your latte from being spat into, and make your experience a little more pleasant at your local coffee shop

If You're in Line, Decide

Figure out what you want before you get to the register. I can’t tell you how many times someone will mess around on their phone until they get to the register and still not know what they want. I’m not your mom, I’m your barista, I will help you if you know what you want. If not, at least lead with that.

Caffeine ≠ Coffee

Too many times people will walk in and say they want coffee, but aren’t down to drink a 16 oz cup of dark roast, or squeal when their cup is full of espresso. If you want coffee, say coffee; if you want caffeine, that’s a different story.  There’s so much more for you if you want caffeine. You can have espresso, iced coffee, cold brew, tea, or a mix.

There's More Than One Type

Not all beans are equal. Certain coffee beans produce a different flavor profile and complexity. Even Starbucks, with their unicorn bs, still has three different types of coffee brewing in the morning. Ask the difference and taste it too, you’ll have a better morning if you have the coffee you like best.

Hot is Different From Burnt

Extra hot milk is just burned milk. Anything over 200 degrees is just burned. If you’re trying to save it for later just get a stopper to keep the heat from escaping, or get it later, I doubt there isn’t a starbucks around wherever you are.

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Ethnocentricism is no Excuse

Cold brew has been around for a long time. Just because Starbucks recently began doling out the new drink doesn’t mean they created it. According to historical records, cold brew finds its origins in Japan, specifically in Kyoto. It used to be referred to as Kyoto-style coffee, and only recently has been proliferate amongst US markets. See, pretty interesting huh? Ask a barista, and if they’ve got an ounce of intelligence and care, they’ll gladly tell you any further information or tidbits.

Don't Play Yourself

Milk/cream and sugar are not needed. Sometimes the reason your coffee tastes so bad is because it’s just not the right type. Not all black coffee is a bitter charcoal pit. This isn’t a one size fits all type of situation. Just like there are different flavors of tea, there are different roasts with varying characteristics. Experiment a little, baristas are there to help you with that. Don’t just say it’s gross and expect us to read your mind, tell us what flavors you’re into.

This is Not That

If you order a Caramel Frappuccino with extra caramel because you want “coffee,” I will slap you. In my mind, at least.

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There Are Actual Sizes

“Regular” is not and has never been a size. I assume you mean medium, which is mostly correct, but for those special folks that think I’m being dumb when I ask what exactly they mean, regular is not real.

Seek Within

If you really don’t know what you want, just ask yourself these three questions: 1. Do I want something hot or cold? 2. Do I want caffeine? 3. Do I want sugar? If you just tell your barista these three things and give them free reign to do whatever, they’ll have a blast and you’ll probably find a new favorite drink.

Enjoy

Overall, enjoy the experience that the barista is trying to impart. We genuinely care about the coffee, it’s what’s keeping us from throwing a bagel in your face at 5 in the morning. So take a minute, soak in the environment and know this isn’t a vending machine, it’s a cafe and we have real beans with real hot water and real people, not a robot.