13 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You

Gourmet coffee and skilled baristas may raise coffee prices but we still need them for the perfect cup. Here are some of your baristas’ secrets.

By Jennifer Steil
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    1. If you're not at Starbucks, don’t order like you are.

    If you want a Venti Caramel Frappuccino, you’re in the wrong place. Order from our menu.

    2. A bigger cup doesn’t mean more coffee

    Starbucks’ Venti (20 oz) and Grande (16 oz) each contain two shots of espresso. The Venti just has more milk. So if it’s caffeine you’re after, size doesn’t matter.

    3. There is an art to pulling a perfect shot of espresso.

    The ideal shot takes 18 to 22 seconds to pull. I have to make sure that the espresso grounds are packed to just the right firmness, that the right amount of water filters through, and control the temperature. If a shot isn’t perfect, I won’t serve it.

    4. Just because they’re vegan doesn’t mean our cakes are good for you.

    They are LOADED with white sugar.

    5. Yes, I went to school for this.

    Starbucks sends employees to barista school for two weeks, where they study the history of coffee, the entire coffee menu, and how to turn milk into velvety foam.

    6. Latte art isn't merely decorative

    If a heart or a pinwheel design holds in the milk it means that the consistency of the foam is good and the shot was pulled well. If you’re at a place that does foam artwork, and you don’t get a good picture, that means your drink is not well made.

    7. Please believe me.

    If you asked for decaf, I gave you decaf. You don’t need to ask me repeatedly. I am not out to get you.

    8. Sometimes the owners of independent coffee/espresso carts buy cheap coffee and sell it as a respected brand.

    Not that any of our customers noticed.

    9. Drinking two quad-shot, 22oz, vanilla lattes every day is bad for you.

    Very, very bad for you.

    10. Tip

    I know your coffee is already overpriced, but a dollar bill in a tip jar earns you infinite goodwill. I’ll carry that happy feeling over to my interaction with my next customer. Karma works, and it only costs you a buck.

    11. You are the reason for the wait.

    When there’s a line to the door, I hate it when customers spend the whole time talking on the phone and only think about what they want when they get to the register. They are the reason the line takes forever.

    12. A real macchiato has just a stain of milk foam and no sugar.

    Because Starbucks uses the names of authentic espresso beverages for sugary, milky confections that bear no resemblance to the real thing, they confuse people. I’ll make someone an authentic drink and they’ll say, where’s the milk? Where’s the syrup?

    13. Be nice.

    No matter how tired you are, it’s nice to say PLEASE when you’re ordering your first coffee of the day. “I’ll take a…” or “Give me a…” is NOT “please” in anyone’s language.

    Sources: Baristas from Starbucks and independent cafes and coffee carts in Seattle, New York, Pennsylvania, and London, England.

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    Your Comments

    • Ana Bailey

      Iced venti does in fact contain 3, yes THREE, shots. We read into our customer’s requests and needs and we let them know how many shots are in the requested drink. There aren’t any secrets.

    • Moo

      Wow, the ADS on this website are so fxxxking annoying. My God.

    • themistocles

      …or 5

    • themistocles

      I dont know any baristas who abide by number 3…

    • James

      Most of this was very fair, but I just wanted to correct a couple details:

      2* – Starbucks has a 2,2,3 system for the no. of shots in your drink meaning in a venti, you do get an extra shot (2,3,4 system for americanos).

      5* – Barista school isn’t a thing in the UK, and even in America not something all Starbucks employees attend as part of their training, most of training is learned through hands on experience in-store.

      10* – A lot of arguments being made about tips – as a Barista, I appreciate receiving tips as it’s reassuring me that I’m doing a good job. But even so you don’t have to tip, and it shouldn’t ever be expected.

      12* – At Starbucks if you order an espresso macchiato – you will receive exactly that, espresso with a little marking of milk, no sugar or anything else added. Not to be confused with a caramel macchiato.

      And to clarify a couple details for commenters:

      In a time where companies are trying to cut costs table-service isn’t given in most coffee shops as it’s an extra that’s not really needed when customers could wait a minute or two at the bar. But despite this – drinks and food are still brought to tables in Dundee, and when quiet in Elgin and Some Aberdeen stores.

      No machine as of yet can beat one of our hand-made beverages

      I’d also like to add, for anyone who’s never been to a coffee shop before – you can’t be expected to understand the difference between what we sell and what you’ll find at a 7/11 or even at McDonalds.

      And finally, a thank you to everyone who has gone through my long rant. Any questions – I’m happy to help

    • Kathy

      the perfect shot is 27 – 29 seconds, 26 seconds would be a ristretto , a 19-22 second shot would be under extracted and robbing a customer.

    • Russell Johnson

      No, they don’t. Not anymore. My fiance started working there a few months ago. She has never pulled a shot from anywhere, and she never left to “go to school”.

    • kate

      Starbucks can’t afford to send us to a school for two weeks. All four starbucks stores I’ve worked in have had high employee turnover. I’ve never talked to anyone that was sent to a “special school” even our managers and coffee masters are trained in store

    • Anonymousone

      Also, if you’re rude to the barista, they have the power to give you decaf. I did that to EVERY rude person when I worked in a coffeehouse.