Annoying Questions People Ask Starbucks Baristas

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The first few times I walked into a Starbucks, this was my experience: Why are the words on the menu so small? *Walks closer to menu* I thought Starbucks had tons of drinks. Why are there like. . . only ten on the menu?! How do I know what I want? I was such a baby then, but now I’m a pro (**Update…I can’t have coffee anymore…the caffine makes me sick)

The average Starbucks barista encounters hundreds of people in a day. And some of them are a lot more polite than others. You probably already know your barista will be annoyed if you order one of the most obnoxious drinks on the Starbucks menu (or at least on the Starbucks secret menu).

Most of us don’t feel fully human until we have our morning caffeine fix. But if you want better service — and don’t want Starbucks baristas to roll their eyes each time you walk in the door — you should avoid asking them these annoying questions.


Could I have a medium?

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Starbucks has been around long enough — and let’s be real, you probably stop by frequently — that you know the chain’s name for whatever size drink you usually order. (Short, tall, grande, venti, and trenta, remember?) Most baristas won’t get annoyed if you occasionally order a “medium” instead of a “grande.” But don’t lecture the barista about how you think those names are dumb. They’ve heard it before.


What drinks are good?

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You can choose from among a huge number of different Starbucks drinks and customize them in practically endless ways. You should go in knowing what you want, not hoping to get a recommendation from the barista. Just like the servers at your favorite restaurants, Starbucks baristas don’t know what you like. And they can’t read your mind to figure out what you’re craving. Most baristas are happy to answer questions about what goes into a drink or how two options compare. But you should always have a pretty good idea of what you want before you reach the counter.


Ask for extra in a separate cup

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Some drinks, like Frappuccinos, tend to leave leftovers in the bottom of the blender. But your barista is probably annoyed if you ask for extra in a separate cup.


Order espresso over ice and then fill your cup with milk from the bar.

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Starbucks baristas have a name for this: the “Hobo Latte.” Baristas see right through you when you order iced espresso in a Venti cup and then fill the rest of your cup with free milk. Just order a latte, they ask, since that’s what you’re making anyway.


I’m here all the time. Don’t you remember my order?

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You might think you’re a regular at a particular Starbucks location. But stopping in a couple times a week doesn’t guarantee any of the baristas will remember what you order. Obviously, it’s nice to be remembered. But you have a better chance of making a good impression — and of a barista remembering your drink — if you’re courteous, tip well, and don’t ask obnoxious questions.


Can you make me ____? It’s off the secret menu.

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This question by itself is not that bad — if you want a secret menu item (which I hope by now everyone understands is not a real thing), I will gladly make it for you. What’s annoying is when you ask for a Captain Crunch Frappucino or a Butterbeer Frapp, and you have no clue what goes into it, because we don’t know, either. Our training’s intense, but we’re not taught what’s not on the menu, so we need you to help us break it down (instead of a Churro Frapp, try “a tall vanilla bean with two pumps of cinnamon dolce and white mocha syrup”).

Oh, and while we’re at it, adding matcha powder and java chips to a Frappucino doesn’t make it “mint chocolate chip.”


Can you make it the same way they do at [coffee shop that isn’t Starbucks]?

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Even if you’re secretly (or not so secretly) grumpy you have to stop in at a Starbucks instead of your usual coffee shop, you shouldn’t ask your barista to make your drink the way another shop prepares it. A Starbucks barista is pretty unlikely to know how that other shop prepares your drink. So it would be a lot more helpful if you could specify exactly how you want your drink made.


Whoa, why is it so expensive?

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Similarly, Starbucks baristas have no control over the prices that corporate sets. You’ll just annoy your barista if you make a big deal of complaining about what your drink costs. You might be crying on the inside about what your cappuccino habit is costing you each week. But that’s a downward spiral you can always return to later — after you enjoy that delicious cappuccino.


*Let me just finish my cellphone conversation while you wait for me to order.*

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Nobody actually says this. But continuing to talk on your phone while the barista waits for you to order is just plain rude. The barista is awkwardly waiting for you to pay attention and tell them what drink you want. And everybody behind you in line is getting irritated that you’re making them wait, too. Hang up the phone for 30 seconds, so you can actually have a conversation with the barista. Was that really so difficult?


Could you clean up this mess my kid made?

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We all get it. Kids are messy. And unless your Starbucks barista has zero sympathy — pretty unlikely given their ability to tolerate a food-service job — they probably understand even the most attentive parent can’t stop their kid from spilling things from time to time. But if your child spills a drink or drops a pastry, do your best to clean up the mess before alerting a barista. Sure, a stack of napkins can only do so much when an entire venti iced tea is on the floor. But don’t act entitled. And don’t forget to apologize if you have to ask a barista for help in cleaning up the mess.

 

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