5 Things You Do at the Coffee Shop That Make the Barista's Job Harder

We asked real baristas the ways customers drive them nuts. The answers might surprise you.

Barista Taking Order From Customer In Busy Coffee Shop
Photo: Tom Werner/Getty Images

It's no secret that coffee shops can be stressful places. With the hustle and bustle of the crowd and names being shouted at random intervals, the coffee shop can be an overwhelming enviornment.

As a customer, you may be focused on making sure you say your drink order correctly and trying to be kind to the person behind the counter. But there are a few things you may be doing that you don't realize actually make your barista's job harder. So, let's talk about what you can do instead that will make your and the employees experience a happy one.

1. Ordering Water at the Pickup Area

Many customers think it saves time and is less of a hassle to wait until they get to the pickup area to ask for a water. The barista is busy, and you hate to add another drink to their line, when it's just a quick water you can ask for as you leave.

Because of the way things work behind the bar, ordering your water at the pickup area instead of the register actually stops up the line and interrupts the barista's flow. It can also leave you stuck waiting on the water for a few minutes. To make things easier for your barista and faster for you, be sure to order your water along with your other foods and drinks at the register. It's usually free, and your barista is happy to keep you hydrated.

2. Grabbing a Drink to See if It's Yours

The best practice after ordering a drink is to stand to the side of the bar, within hearing range for when your name is called. But, sometimes that just can't happen. You need to run to the bathroom, or you have to take a quick phone call and you get to the pickup area unsure if your name was called. You see drinks on the bar and think, "I'll just pick this up to see if it's mine," or worse, you assume it's yours and take a sip, only to realize that is not what you ordered. Now, the barista needs to remake the other person's drink.

Instead, try looking for a name and drink order on the cup without touching it. It's usually written or printed. If you don't see it, ask the barista. It's much less disruptive to ask, "Do you know if you called out a chai latte for Amy?" than it is to accidentally cause them to remake a drink. And your barista wants to make sure you get the drink that makes you happy.

3. Assuming Your Barista Knows Your Name and Order

You may very well be the barista's favorite customer. They may ask about your life and have genuinely kind conversations. However, that doesn't mean that they can remember your name and order during a busy, stressful day.

Baristas see an astronomical number of people a day and do their very best to make every single person feel welcome. For the best experience, it's better to say your name and drink order, unless the barista explicitly tells you they know it by heart. This makes them feel respected instead of like a failure for forgetting your name or order, and it ensures that your drink will be right.

4. Requesting Only Your Favorite Barista Make Your Drink

We all have our favorites, and your intention may be to make them feel really special by saying that you only trust them with your drink order. However, this can make things difficult, not only for your favorite but for whoever you're asking them to replace.

A lot of times if your favorite barista is doing another task, it might be time sensitive, or they may even be on break. The person who is making drinks that day is also a person with feelings. Hearing that you do not want them to make your drink can ruin their whole work day. If they mess up something on your drink order, simply let them know, and they will happily remake it — plus, you're helping them learn.

5. Complimenting or Commenting on Your Barista's Appearance

Let's be real: We never know what someone else is going through, especially in a quick interaction that lasts just a few minutes, like when ordering your coffee. You're feeling light hearted and happy as you walk into your favorite coffee shop, and while the employees are genuinely happy to see you, it's important to remember that for them, the coffee shop is work.

It can be really uncomfortable for a barista to field comments about their physical appearance — whether good or bad — while on the job. You might have the best intentions when you ask, "You look so nice, have you lost weight?" but it's really never appropriate to comment on someone's physical appearance, especially to an employee who can't leave the situation. Perhaps they're facing a serious illness or going through a really difficult personal time. You just don't know.

Or the comment of "Woah, rough day? You look really tired," might seem like no big deal to you, but to hear this while you're trying to focus on work can be at least disruptive and at most really hurtful. It's best to compliment work ethic or efficiency at doing their job. This is work appropriate and leaves you and the barista feeling comfortable for your next visit.

Now, get out there, and let your favorite baristas know that they are the most loved and appreciated service industry professionals around.

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