13 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You

Spoiler: don't order like you're at Starbucks if you aren't.

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. (But if you are at Starbucks, here are some pet peeves of your Starbucks barista.)

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. (Here's why Starbucks sizes aren't small, medium, and large.)

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. (This is what happens to your body when you drink coffee every day.)

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


They are LOADED with white sugar. (Keep an eye out for these other "healthy" foods that aren't actually good for you, too.)

Content continues below ad

Yes, I went to school for this

iStock/Lisa Gagne

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. (This is why you work better in coffee shops.)

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. (You NEED to see these 50 photos of unreal latte art!)

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. (But just so you know, there's actually some caffeine in decaf coffee.)

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. (Fun fact: Coffee helps you learn!)

Content continues below ad

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


Very, very bad for you. (Here are some problems all coffee lovers can probably relate to.)


iStock/Catherine Lane

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. (Here's your ultimate tipping guide for anywhere you go.)

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. (Speaking of coffee, here's how to make the perfect cup.)

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? (This is what your favorite coffee order says about you.)

Content continues below ad

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. (Here are 50 etiquette rules you should always be following.)

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

View as Slideshow

Become more interesting every week!

The Reader's Digest "Read Up" Newsletter

We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.