The Rudest Things You Do At Starbucks, According to Baristas

Do they really hate those TikTok drinks as much as we think they do?

Starbucks coffee sign hanging outside a shop
Photo: JohnFScott/Getty Images

Going to Starbucks for your morning coffee or afternoon pick-me-up tea is always a treat. Even coffee seems to taste better when someone else makes it.

But, we've probably all been at a Starbucks when "that customer" is there—you know rude, loud, and likely yelling at the barista. No one wants to be that person, right? Well, unfortunately, you might be that rude customer and you don't even know it.

We talked to a former barista and read a few Reddit threads about things customers do that they might not know are rude. And it turns out that ordering a TikTok drink isn't even on the list—well, sort of, it depends on how you order it.

From using the app to mishaps in the drive-thru, here are the rudest things customers do at Starbucks, according to the people that work there, plus a few tips to remedy the etiquette blunders.

Expecting the Barista to Know Your "Regular"

Even if your usual order is a black coffee, you can't expect the barista to remember that. They see hundreds of customers a day—and half of them could order the same thing as you.

Some employees might remember you and your order, but others may have never seen you before. It's best to just order your drink as you normally would to save the barista time.

Honking Your Horn in the Drive-Thru

Not only is this just plain rude, but what are you accomplishing? We promise it's not going to make the line move any faster—the baristas are working as fast as they can.

They can only make so many drinks and heat up so many sandwiches at one time with the equipment that they have. Depending on the size of the store there may only be two espresso machines—and one of those machines is solely dedicated to drive-thru orders, so you're already getting priority over in-store and mobile orders.

It's really no one's fault that you and 15 other people decided to hit the Starbucks drive-thru at the exact same time.

Also, you have to remember the baristas are wearing headsets. So, if you're honking the horn at the car in front of you, the sound is amplified into the baristas' ears inside the store.

Calling a Drink by Its "TikTok Name" and Expecting a Barista to Know How to Make It

Basically, every time you log onto TikTok there is a new trending Starbucks drink. While some of them just add minor modifications to menu items, others are whole new concoctions entirely with made-up names. So you can't go into a Starbucks, tell the barista an absurd drink name, and expect them to know what it is and how to make it.

Most of the time, the baristas are happy to make whatever you ask, but you need to know what's in the drink. So, if you want to try TikTok's newest obsession, just know how to order it with the modifications rather than by the name a creator called it.

Some drinks, like the Pink Drink, are popular enough that baristas know the drill, but it's courteous to order the drink's menu name with the modifications you want.

Paying It Forward

The "pay it forward" chain starts when one person in the drive-thru pays for the order of the person in the car behind them. That person is informed their order has been paid for and then a lot of times that person will offer to pay for the person behind them, and so on.

Not only is this annoying for the barista working the drive-thru to keep track of, but it's also a double-edged sword for the person whose drink was paid for. Now, they feel obligated to pay for the car behind them. So, some baristas cut the chain off after a while (if it doesn't naturally stop).

"It's great and all, and most of us [will] do it [for] at least a couple cars, but then it just gets annoying so we'll tell someone that the person behind them is a mobile [order] and it's already paid for to cut [it] off," said a former barista.

Telling the Barista They're Making You Late to Work

Let's face it, you ran that risk when you got in line. If you don't have time to wait for your drink alongside the dozens of other people who are also waiting, then you're probably better off making your coffee or breakfast at home.

Again, the baristas can only work so quickly and your order is queued based on your position in line. Just because your latte might be quicker to make than the Frappuccino in front of you doesn't mean the barista is going to make yours first.

As you can imagine, mornings are peak time at Starbucks, so they're almost always going to be busy. If you're planning on stopping by to order something, then you should take that into consideration.

Yelling Into the Drive Thru Speaker as Soon as You Pull Up

Unless you have been waiting multiple minutes without any service, then there's no need to shout "hello" into the speaker. Practically every drive-thru has a camera, so the barista can see that you're there when you pull up.

"Pulling up to the drive-thru speaker and immediately yelling, "Hello!?!?!" is the equivalent of ringing someone's doorbell and then immediately screaming, "Are you home!?" in the window," says Reddit user thedeadwillwalk.

The same goes for driving away from the speaker while the employee is still speaking to you. Even if you're just going to swipe your credit card without caring about the price, you should still let the barista finish going over your order. Remember, patience is a virtue.

Saying "Another Employee or Location" Does Whatever You're Asking

Even if that is true, the baristas don't have to fulfill every one of your, probably outlandish, requests—especially if it's in regard to an off-menu item.

There might be a policy in place or the barista might refuse for another reason—but either way, it's their right. Starbucks baristas can also refuse to serve you in general if you are violating Starbucks' Third Place Policy.

"Starbucks' policy is that we can refuse service to anyone disturbing the third place policy," says Reddit user T-Bone7771.

The Third Place Policy is more about being considerate and respecting property and employees, but there are other things Starbucks employees can refuse to do—like putting hot coffee in a cold coffee cup or re-heating your drinks/food in the microwave, according to Reddit user BitterableBarista.

Placing an Online Order in Line, Then Immediately Asking if It's Ready

Placing a mobile order on Starbucks' app is quite convenient—especially if you put the order in at home, then swing by your local store to grab it later. But if you get to your Starbucks and see that it's packed and then put in a mobile order, you can't immediately expect it to be ready. Despite the fact that your order is in the system, it's still in a queue with the other mobile and cafe orders, which means you're going to have to wait.

Also, don't bank on the estimated prep time given to you in the app. That's just how long it takes to make the drink on its own—it doesn't factor in how many orders are ahead of yours.

"It does not [factor in how busy the store is]. You could have 40 orders ahead of you and the app will still tell you that it will be 9-12 minutes," says Reddit user ChromosomeThief123.

We've fallen victim to this app trickery before, too, but let's be clear, that's not the barista's fault. That's the app's, and subsequently Starbucks', fault, so please don't take it out on the employees.

Sitting at the Drive-Thru Window After You've Received Your Order

You don't have to speed off as soon as your coffee is inside your car, but you also shouldn't sit there and hold up the line for much longer. Obviously, you can put your wallet away or put your coffee in the cupholder, but you don't need to take a few sips or start eating your sandwich while you're still at the window.

Even just pulling forward a little bit (leaving enough space for the next car to get to the window) and getting yourself situated there is a better alternative.

"Some customers don't realize that there's a timer going that counts how long someone stays at the window, not that it's something that matters to them. But it does matter to the store and the district," says Reddit user notes911.

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