When I was growing up, I used to work in a lovely local branch of Caffe Nero. I had a good team, I loved making coffee but the one thing that really made it a great place and, at the same time, a hellish place to work was the customers. Due to this, I now treat every barista I come across extremely well. They are the unsung heroes of the coffee industry and they don’t get the appreciation they truly deserve. I mean, would you be able to function without your morning coffee?
Follow these quick steps and you’ll have the best coffee you’ve ever tasted 😉
Baristas are people, they need your attention, not only to keep themselves going throughout the day (where they spend 90% of it facing a boiling hot machine) but they also need to know what your order is. No matter how important you think you are, that phone call can wait. Wait five minutes and you’ll have a delicious coffee to kick off your conversation with.
When behind the bar, you are told to ask questions, as many as you need to make the perfect drink for your individual customer (if you haven’t already memorised their order). The size, types, syrups and preferences are the little bits of information they need. It isn’t to annoy you and waste your time, so be polite and smile a bit when answering.
Shocker. You’re not the only one who may like a simple black Americano or Espresso. Most Italians do – it’s how coffee is supposed to be taken. So there is no need for you to get a superiority complex over it and treat the people around you, including your barista, like dirt.
As far as businesses go, the people on the shop floor have the least amount of control over prices. This is true in coffee shops too. Your barista didn’t decide to up the prices around the tax year or in the the new year. Those decisions come from higher up, so don’t take it out on your barista. Believe me, they feel your pain – they are the ones with the coffee addiction. Not only that, the coffee your barista makes, with the time and effort they put into it, is more than worth the £3 you paid for it. It’s an art form.
Not everyone does a ‘flat white’ or a ‘caramel macchiato’, so don’t go into different chains and expect the same drinks. A real macchiato is served in a very small espresso cup and is made up of espresso and a tiny amount of foam and milk to mark the top of the espresso. This is nothing like the macchiatos that come out of Starbucks. We also all know that flat whites are a marketing scam created by Costa, so stop ordering them in any other store too.
Now, most baristas understand that when you order one of these heathen drinks, you are probably just in your routine. And most of them will even try and make it for you without feeling the need to correct you but what it really comes down to is respect. Using another shop’s terminology is like calling your new lover by your old lover’s name.
If you’re asking for this, you’re asking for burnt milk. Nothing more and nothing less. You can’t make a drink ‘extra hot’ unless you burn it. Baristas are told to heat the milk to a certain legal temperature, any higher than that and they could do you harm. It also makes your drink taste appalling.
The milk on the condiments bar is not to fill up the rest of your drink, it’s for that little dash a customer may need. So stop trying to save pennies and steal all the milk. It’s offensive. You’re not big and you’re not clever – your barista will always know and your espresso shots won’t taste so good for much longer. Also, baristas really don’t have time to keep filling up the milk, they are busy people.
Put simply, they shouldn’t exist. Cappuccinos are made of one-third foam, one-third milk, and one-third espresso. That’s what they are. Not only is ordering a dry one changing what the actual drink is, but it’s a pain to make. It’s impossible to create a jug of foam from a jug of milk. It’s not only time consuming, it’s wasteful. Also, don’t stand in-front of your barista and hand-weigh your cup to test all the coffee you’re not getting. You just look stupid.
Yes, the whole “a coffee shot dies” thing was made up by coffee companies to make their baristas move faster. Yes, crema does dissipate and change the flavour of an espresso shot, but only bad espresso will taste bad. Lastly, yes, Espressos are meant to be drunk fast, pretty much in a couple of minutes, but please don’t just leave your cup on the bar.
Baristas make accidents. We all do. Especially when we are rushed off our feet or we aren’t having such a great day. Instead of ranting and raving, tell your barista and they will happily re-make it. They will do this even for the small changes. What isn’t helpful is when you then tell your barista you don’t want a fresh one for whatever reason. If you don’t want it re-made, then simply don’t complain. It wastes yours and your barista’s energy.
And there you have it – a 10 step guide to perfect barista-happy coffee.