While I love my job at Starbucks, it can definitely come with some frustrations. Starbucks (Sbux for short) is home to its own faction of fussy customers, but some don’t even realize that they’re making a barista’s job harder. Here’s a list of some common customer behaviors that are major barista pet peeves.
1. Talking on the phone
No, seriously. Please don’t. It’s not exactly polite, we’re people too, and it makes us hard for you to understand us and vice versa. Basically, it turns a simple “grande iced coffee” into a five-minute affair because you don’t want to speak too loud while on the phone, and it’s unbelievably noisy behind the counter. Customers on the phone often show more consideration to the person on the phone than the barista literally serving them. Just put it down for a few seconds, that’s all we ask.
2. Cutting corners
This doesn’t bother all baristas, and maybe it’s not a big deal, but personally it gets under my skin. When you order a triple iced espresso in a venti cup and then fill it to the top with soy milk from the bar, or any other milk, you are basically stealing. Just order the iced latte. It gives more to do for the barista in charge of stocking, filling, cleaning and brewing coffee, or “customer support” as it’s called, as they have to stop what they’re doing to refill the carafes faster than normally. If the customer support is too busy, the bar barista has to break their drink sequence (read: stop making drinks) to go grab a new carafe. Sometimes, this can cause a milk shortage. It seems like a small thing, but it can really add up with the more people who do this. We know what’s going on, and we’re not a fan of it.
3. Snapping at us
You wouldn’t normally cop an attitude with a stranger, so why do you feel it’s okay to throw a tantrum and yell at a barista about your coffee? Yes, you might get a Recovery card out of it, but baristas are not your emotional punching bag. I don’t need your life’s frustrations taken out on me. I have enough of my own. Of course, I understand people might sometimes be grumpy and other times, the barista is totally at fault. But all yelling at us and berating us accomplishes is making the situation worse and halting the flow behind the counter. Plus, you may be the butt of a few jokes after you leave.
4. “Where’s my drink?”
I get it if you’ve been waiting for an iced coffee for ten minutes and there seems to be few other customers in the store. Of course you’d want to make sure we didn’t forget about/lose your cup. Or that someone else didn’t take it, which does happen a lot. But if you see that it’s busy or the barista is chipping away at a line of drinks, please don’t add to the pressure by constantly asking where your tall, nonfat, no foam latte is. Besides physical customers, Sbux now has mobile orders. So even if there are a handful of customers, there could be a handful more of mobile orders. On the subject of mobile orders, they can be confusing or meticulously customized because of the learning curve of ordering through the app. So have some patience. We’re trying our best.
5. Staring contest
I know it might be easy to space out looking at the person on bar making drinks, as a fellow barista pointed out to me, and it might even be interesting to watch, but I ask that you don’t stare down the barista on bar. Intensely boring a hole into my skull while standing flush with the hand-off counter will not make your drink appear faster. If anything, that makes people mess up easier because of nervousness that comes with being stared at by a stranger. Did you like it that one time when someone stared at you on the T without blinking or looking away your whole ride? No? Then don’t do that to us. It’s extremely uncomfortable.
6. “Well, the other Starbucks did it.”
There’s a running joke among baristas about where this “other Starbucks” is and what it’s actually like. It seems to be a paradise for unreasonable customers. You wouldn’t believe how many times customers invoke the phrase “the other Starbucks” to justify why we should bend the rules for them. Each Starbucks has different managers, different staff and different kinds of customers. There are certainly company-wide standards, but sometimes a certain location will be flexible to “make it right” for you. That does mean that you then go to every other Starbucks and expect the same leniency. Not every store has the same resources or capability. For example, “the other Starbucks” might shake your Strawberry Acai Refresher with coconut milk together in one shaker with no questions asked, but not every store has a designated shaker for milk and non-dairy milk. Technically, only tea and juice should be allowed in a tea shaker, and that’s the only kind some stores have. This is to minimize risk of contamination and allergic reaction in customers.
7. Winking, flirting or otherwise being suggestive
Unless we know you well as a regular and it’s absolutely clear these types of behavior wouldn’t be unwelcome, err on the side of not doing it. When a man old enough to be my dad winks at me, even if he means it in a charming grandfather way, it makes my skin crawl. When a stranger flirts with me at the register, I try to look for every way to excuse myself, but there’s no polite way. Customer service standards have me continuing to nod while looking just past them. The point is, you don’t know what situation or state someone is in. Read body language, and if someone is clearly uncomfortable, drop it. Walk away. Maybe apologize. Remember, we’re human too. Treat us that way.