Confessions Of A Barista: Everything You’re Doing Wrong At The Coffee Counter

There is trick that coffee-gulpers of America seem to lack. It is a skill so rare and so precise, that only TRUE coffee-connoisseurs have mastered this crafted language —the language of beverage ordering. For you caramel macchiato slurpin’ sorority sisters, you Red Eye sippin’ students, or you annoying cult of middle schoolers who would like every flavor of Frappuccino under the sun, I hope this article finds you well.

Much to Starbucks-goers’ disbelief, there is a system to the thirty squirts of artificial flavor that are pumped into your venti skim vanilla latte with an extra shot. One would assume that young adults would know how to formulate orders in the most logical order: concisely, by using the least amount of words possible. However, that is not the case.

A typical order on a given day at my coffee bar sounds more like:

“Hi, uhm, hmm… let me see, uhm… hmm… well let me just see here.”

Meanwhile ten people have joined the line in the past ten seconds.

“Okay, hi, uhm, I will have that Caramel Macchiato drink. But can I have it in a Grande cup thingy? And can I have soy milk in that?”

“Sure thing. That will be $4.53.”

“Oh wait, can I actually get an extra shot in that? And can you like make that iced? Wait. No. Wait… yes.. yes.”

Now, most coffee bars are blessed with this miraculous thing called technology, where the cashier can actually enter the never-ending specifics of an order into a system in the cash register, so the baristas can read the order in .000001 seconds. Unfortunately, not all coffee bars are equipped with such high-tech machinery. Instead, some quaint little coffee shops use this ridiculous form of communication called mouths and ears. When you say, “I would like an extra shot in my mocha that is iced and has skim milk and uhm, can you make that a Venti?” the barista’s first reaction will be to strangle you, and then kindly ask you to repeat that order.

Therefore, to avoid any strangulation, I present to you the ingenious tutorial:

LEARN HOW TO PROPERLY ORDER A DRINK

STEP 1: State the size. This allows the barista to grab the cup and write on it, while you blabber away.

Example: I would like a tall latte.

STEP 2: State the temperature. If you say nothing, we assume it is hot. You have to specifically say ICED to make it iced. Iced drinks require us to reach our fingers an extra three inches for the clear cup, and we would like to be mentally prepared for such an endeavor.

Example: I would like a tall, iced latte.

STEP 3: Request your type of milk. If you are ordering an espresso drink, which is about 90% of the menu, then you are required to pick your milk. If you do not mention anything about the milk, we will give you cellulite-inducing whole milk. Unless you plan on putting on a few pounds for winter, I highly suggest skim.

Example: I would like a tall, iced, skim latte.

STEP 4: Choose the flavor. You can basically add some pumps of whatever sugary syrup you desire to whatever drink is on the menu.

Example: I would like a tall, iced, skim, vanilla hazelnut caramel latte.

STEP 5: Choose the drink. Please pick one of the pretty names printed on the menu that sounds the most like you know what you’re talking about. Abbreviating the names of drinks does not make you sound more legit.

Example: Like, I totally come here all the time, so I would totally like to drink a rad chai tea latte, bro.

STEP 6: State your extras in the order in which they are inserted. If you would like an extra pump of vanilla, an extra shot of espresso, and whipped cream, you need to say it in the order in which it will be put in.

Example: I would like a tall, iced, skim vanilla latte with an extra pump of vanilla, two extra shots, and some whipped cream on top.

WARNING: ASKING FOR SKIM IN YOUR BEVERAGE AND THEN ASKING FOR WHIP ON TOP WILL MOST LIKELY LEAD TO A GROUP EYE ROLL, DEATH STARE, OR LONG DELAY FROM THE BARISTAS.

I can only hope that my useful step by step process will help our nation understand that it may be the slow idiot in front of the counter who screwed up the order, not always the idiot behind the counter. I advise you all to print out this article, chop it up into little pieces and create flashcards so that you can eventually look like the dreamy, cappuccino-sipping hipster artist musician bro that Starbucks has inspired you to be. Otherwise, please learn to drink black coffee because I honestly do not think it is possible to screw up the order, “Grande coffee.”

I look forward to working with all of you to better enhance the coffee-ordering process.

Sincerely,
Katie

P.S. If you would love to learn the another side of the coffee making process? Just try this barista training course in London.

Image via Flickr

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