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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