Getting To Know Baristas: Secrets From Behind The Espresso Machine

He’s not just the guy foaming your milk, or the gal making sure you’ve got the right roast in your cup. Being a barista is a serious business, and it’s a job that didn’t even exist 30 years ago. Where would you be without your barista? Cranky and caffeine-deprived, that’s where. So let’s learn a bit more about their world, shall we?

SmartMoney runs through a handy list of 10 things your barista won’t tell you, but that they’ve apparently decided to tell someone because well, those things are in a list. Here are a few, check out SmartMoney for the complete story.

1. Serving coffee isn’t always just a part-time job: Many baristas have college degrees and have chosen that life for their career. And they’ve come pretty far from their humble beginnings — before 1982, there was no special name for them. Now that they’re basically essential to millions of Americans who don’t make coffee at home, many chains train their baristas on an annual basis to make sure that espresso is perfect. So don’t call them slackers.

2. A venti doesn’t actual pack a larger caffeine punch: A Starbucks spokeswoman says fancy grande and venti drinks both have two shots of espresso, and at Peet’s, a communications rep explains, small and medium lattes also both have two shots. If you’re not sure what you’re getting, ask about the number of shots in a drink and ask for more if you need it.

3. It’s rude of you to nurse your coffee all day while surfing the net: This one is a bit of a “duh” for anyone who isn’t totally clueless. Many baristas rely on tips for a bulk of their income, so if you tip for one drink and take up space all day, you’re not contributing much. If you do need to park it, get up once in awhile and tip on small purchases so you’re not a rude loiterer.

4. There are secret menus!: If the usual menu items don’t float your boat anymore, try asking your barista for something off-book. They might prefer you to order from the menu, but if you’re a regular and asking nicely for say, a Dirty Chai or an Espresso Pana Cotta, you might be in luck.

10 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You [SmartMoney]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Doubting thomas says:

    Well at least all 10 weren’t variations on how customers suck.

  2. Cat says:

    Where would you be without your barista?

    Same place you’d be today, only with more money.

  3. Adam H. says:

    I don’t have a barista. I don’t drink coffee and make my own tea at home. I see no reason why you can’t sit in the cafe all day and surf the net, as long as you have paid for something. It’s not rude.

    Also, is a male barista called a baristo?

  4. Dallas_shopper says:

    My drink order is always the same: small black coffee. Nobody being paid nearly $10 an hour is getting a tip from me for filling a small paper cup full of black coffee. Sorry.

    • rpm773 says:

      For walk-up service, I draw the line based on what I’m ordering. If it’s going to be prepared by a barista at an espresso bar, I’ll tip. If it’s coming pre-made out of a dispenser, no tip.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        I don’t tip baristas hardly ever. I’ll tip a waiter/waitress, I tip my hair stylist, I tip my masseur. That’s pretty much it. If I ever ordered food to be delivered, I’d tip the delivery person but only because society tells me I have to. But baristas at Starbucks aren’t getting a tip from me. If they were paid less than minimum wage like a waiter, then sure, I’d tip.

        • SJActress says:

          Same here. I tip waiter/waitresses because I know they make under minimum wage. I tip bartenders (I am one) for the same reason. Starbucks baristas don’t get a tip from me unless the service is above and beyond (difficult as hell order or service above “great”). If you want to choose it as your career, more power to you; just realize that until you’re making $2.30 an hour and the prices are lowered to reflect that, I am not going to give you a raise with MY money.

          • Solkanar512 says:

            And yet you’re too lazy to write your state representatives to ensure tips aren’t counted towards minimum wage for waitstaff.

        • legolex says:

          I agree, I also never tip when I order food To-Go either by phone and I pick it up or I wait at the restaurant.

    • bomber991 says:

      Sometimes it’s a little tough determining when to tip or not. I went to a Taco Cabana type restaurant here. Basically fast food, but this place was larger. Anyways after I placed my order the cashier asked for a tip. WTF? I didn’t ask for any special modifiers to my order or anything, pretty much I ordered two tacos off of the menu and a cup for water. Anyways I did the Mr. Bean thing where I grabbed a coin out of my pocket, picked up the tip cup and shook it, then set it down. Some people are supposed to be tipped, like waiters, and other people shouldn’t be tipped unless they go above and beyond the level of service that is expected. When I call in an order for a takeout pizza and I go pick it up myself, wtf should I be tipping for?

    • One-Eyed Jack says:

      They fill your paper cup? At my coffee shop, they hand me the cup and I get to fill it! (But I always tip myself generously.)

    • smo0 says:

      LOL I made minimum wage when I worked for starbucks last year.

      FU and your 10 bux an hour shit.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        That isn’t the case around here.

        Even if you’re making minimum wage, you’re still not getting a tip from me for doing something that takes about ten seconds. It’s not like my order is complicated or anything. Maybe if you sweethearted me a few free squirts of flavored syrup, you’d get a tip. If you brought it to my table and cleared it away when I finished, you’d get a tip. But that’s not how Sbux works, so no tip.

        • smo0 says:


          Okay so this is how it goes. I live in an actual tipping town.
          AT MOST…. on top of my 7.35 I was making, I might get 1.50 to 1.75 an hour ON TOP of my regular pay… and that was totaled at the end of the week based on how many hours you worked and divided per barista working that week’s schedule.

          Also mind you, aside from the occasional supervisor – no one had a full time schedule.

          We got paid every 2 weeks, my paycheck on a good one – was about 250 bux, plus 20-30$ in tips per week… so if I was lucky, I cleared about 600 dollars a month.

          Again, on behalf of baristas and former baristas… fuck you.

          And god help you if you come to vegas and think you can go places without tipping.

          The mob may have left but that mentality will away stick – even CELEBRITIES get shunned if they stiff servers.

          The bourgeoisie are not immune.

    • aja175 says:

      $10 IS minimum wage here, and hardly enough to think about living without roommates and a 2nd job.

  5. Jules Noctambule says:

    11. If the barista tells you not to touch the machine because it’s hot and you could get burned, trust them. The steam wand is not a playtoy.

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      And yes, I really did have lots of people try to play with the machine when I worked in a coffee bar; some parents-of-the-year even picked up their kids to get them closer to the ‘fun’ steam! I never thought getting scalded was much of a treat when I was a kid.

  6. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:



  7. dale says:

    Here’s the “print” mode link for anyone who doesn’t want to click through 10 pages:

  8. OthelloAndreus says:

    Why do people insist on using the phrase “secret menu” when your food and drink is made to order? The clerk might think your secret spy menu code word for extra foam is cute, but to the rest of us it’s silly not to mention that the silly secret menu code words might not mean anything to the server.

  9. Velifer says:

    I make my own arrogant, entitled, whining service staff at home.

    • DrLumen says:

      lol. Same here.

      To find out that Mr. Coffee was a really called a barista for all these years… learn something new every day.

  10. Nunov Yerbizness says:

    >>>>”It’s rude of you to nurse your coffee all day while surfing the net: This one is a bit of a “duh” for anyone who isn’t totally clueless. Many baristas rely on tips for a bulk of their income, so if you tip for one drink and take up space all day, you’re not contributing much. If you do need to park it, get up once in awhile and tip on small purchases so you’re not a rude loiterer.”

    I don’t hang out in coffee shops; I just get my coffee and go. So this is not my personal butthurt. But I am sick to death of hearing whiny servbots complain about how customers actually behaving like *customers* are such a *gasp* horrible hardship for them to bear. Do you not like your job? Then please get another one, where you won’t have to work with people or they won’t irk you by failing to satisfy your whopping sense of entitlement to receive tips for limited or zero service.

    Here’s a handy tip for sniveling, tip-whoring servbots: If your employer offers free wi-fi, and there are comfortable and convenient places to sit and use a laptop or other mobile device, it means your employer is inviting people to sit for a while because it’s good for business. Your employer’s customers do not have to make hourly obsequies to you, wheedling to you for another coffee or baked good, and give you a tip when you don’t even offer table service. (And given your senses of entitlement, you’d probably complain about how they ordered it “wrong” anyway.)

    If you do not like the way your employer runs his/her business, then by all means, start your own coffee joint where you kick customers out for not bowing and scraping before your poorly-educated, sniveling, low-skilled ass. Otherwise, STFU.

    • Swins says:

      So damn true

    • chiieddy says:

      And if you sit, taking up a table other paying customers could use while you surf porn on their free wifi, be prepared to be asked to purchase something or free up the spot for a paying customer. kthxbye

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        On the rare occasion that I linger at a Starbucks and use their “free” wifi, I don’t do it when the place is crowded. If I’m lingering and I notice the place is starting to get busy and tables are starting to fill up, I clear off.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      You are my favorite person today :-)

    • who? says:

      In general, I agree, but every time I go into my local Starbucks, there’s always at least one person who’s brought in their entire desktop computer, complete with 20+” monitor, who’s planning on nursing a small drip coffee for most of the day while they watch movies.

      Besides the fact that there are never any tables available for actual paying customers, I find the whole thing pretty baffling because the Starbucks is 2 blocks from the public library, which has faster wifi, more space to set up, and doesn’t require the customer to purchase anything.

      • axhandler1 says:

        Yeah, but no food or drinks in the library.

        • Silverhawk says:

          Have you been to a public library lately? The last two cities I lived in, the public libraries had cafes. Nice ones too.

      • angienessyo says:

        Do people really bring in their desktop computers? I’ve actually had a conversation with a coworker about hoping that someday a bunch of people will come in with desktop computers and CRTs and have a ginormous LAN party. That would be the most amazing thing ever, they can use all our chairs and tables, I don’t care. I want to see this happen some day. It HAS to be CRT monitors or it’s not as hilarious.

        • who? says:

          They really do bring their desktop computers. I can’t imagine where they’re carrying them from, there’s no parking around here, so they’re hiking from somewhere with it.

    • t-spoon says:

      But I am sick to death of hearing whiny servbots complain about how customers actually behaving like *customers* are such a *gasp* horrible hardship for them to bear.

      Yeah, well, deal with it. I work in the service industry and there’s just nothing worse than having to interact with the human race. ‘Customers acting like customers’ sounds nice and sterile, but in reality people are just pains in the ass. And yes, it is my job and it comes with the territory. But what, now there’s something wrong with releasing that pressure?

      People who make this point always think their ace in the hole is ‘hey well if you don’t like it, work somewhere else!’ Believe it or not, when I made the decision to wait tables, it wasn’t out of passion for food service. It was to feed myself and pay the electric bill. It doesn’t have to be a job I love, it just has to keep me alive. But I guess because I’m a low skilled, relatively uneducated person I don’t have the freedom to complain about anything.

  11. cameronl says:

    Shaddap and pour me some joe, coffee money.

  12. lettucefactory says:

    “For one, you can create your own cheaper latte by asking for a double shot of espresso in a larger size cup, then pouring in milk at the condiments counter. “

    We have already had this conversation. Don’t do it.

  13. nopirates says:

    11. we ARE actually unskilled labor. you too can learn to do this in 30 minutes. we are not ‘artists’ and our arrogance and insufferable personalities are completely unwarranted. we REALLY need to get over ourselves.

    • BorkBorkBork says:

      You’re pretty much right. (I used to be a barista). The hardest part for me was that I don’t drink coffee myself. So I’d just have to be very consistent with the ‘ideal’ recipe so as to not piss off customers with crappy coffee. Never a complaint though!

    • Squee says:

      It depends, to use an automatic machine and slap together drinks assembly-line style (like Starbucks) then yeah, the longest part of training is memorizing the recipes.
      It takes considerably longer to learn how to use a manual machine, to include all of the different ways that you can modify the flavor of the espresso. Of course this depends on having customers that actually know enough about espresso to ask for modifications.
      And then you have latte art, which is a level of skill that I barely scratched the surface of.

      • human_shield says:

        I worked at Starbucks once and any deviation or creativity will get you fired. Latte art is a big no no andchanging the flavor of espresso? Forget it…the coffee must taste exactly the same at every location.

      • human_shield says:

        I worked at Starbucks once and any deviation or creativity will get you fired. Latte art is a big no no andchanging the flavor of espresso? Forget it…the coffee must taste exactly the same at every location.

    • Solkanar512 says:

      Typical Consumerist poster right here.

      “They’re UNSKILLED LABOR, how dare they look me in the EYE?! I HAVE A DEGREE, I’M A BETTER PERSON THAN THEY ARE!”

      Get over yourselves kids, you aren’t a better human being because you’re a desk jockey or IT janitor.

  14. BorkBorkBork says:

    I used to be a “barista” about 10 years ago while in high school for a locally owned coffee shop/restaurant. Back then, I was just called the ‘coffee boy’

    It was a great HS job, I really did love it. It wasn’t hard, I got paid well ($8/hr + about $20 in tips per day), and I loved just chatting with customers. It was nice talking with people in for their daily latte. We didn’t care if they sat in a seat all day – at least I had someone to talk with. Too bad baristas today seem to be so self-righteous. And who would make it their career?!

    Call me a hipster barista – I was a barista before baristas were self-entitled douchebags. :D

    • Ilovegnomes says:

      Thank you!

    • smo0 says:

      I don’t know what it is, but I feel like I got paid more for jobs 10+ years ago than I do now.

      My barista job was 7.35 an hour, this was last year.

      Even regular retail…. I was making 8.50 an hour in 1999. What the fuck happened?

  15. GJaunts says:

    This weekend I was at my favorite local coffee shop. This location has maybe 10-15 tables, and it was a busy Saturday afternoon. When I arrived there was exactly one table open, which I promptly grabbed. I noticed that the two tables directly across from me were occupied by customers whose drinks were obviously finished. No big deal, they’re probably just finishing up their work, and then they’ll leave.

    I was in the coffee shop for about half an hour drinking my coffee and doing some homework and I saw no less than four groups walk in, observe that there was no place to sit, and then turn around and leave without purchasing anything. Those groups represented more than 10 customers.

    When I finished my coffee, I got up and left. Predictable, those two unabashadly-table-hogging customers were still unabashadly hogging tables with their empty drinks. What’s worse, I’m fairly certain that I’m the only person that left the entire time that I was there. I observed at least 10 lost customers, and there were doubtless more on top of that. This is my favorite local coffee shop, and I hate that they lost business because people have no shame.

    On a positive note, as I was leaving I did notice the barrista quietly and politely ask a table of 7 or 8 girls to purchase something or leave. It looked like they had been camped out for days, so I imagine they’d been there for hours.

    • Kuri says:

      I wonder what the odds are that the part of 10 you mentioned got snippy.

    • Swins says:

      WHO THE FUCK takes 30 minutes to drink a cup of coffee. You should drink your coffee and GO! At max it should take you 7 minutes to drink a cup of coffee…you hogged that space for 23 minutes extra!

      • GJaunts says:

        It was a large! I have a delicate mouth, and I can’t drink hot drinks fast.

        Apparently those around me had larger drinks and more delicate mouths.

        • Ilovegnomes says:

          I’m like you. It takes 10 minutes just for the drink to cool down to the point where I can actually drink it without burning off my taste buds. Maybe some cafes don’t make their drinks as hot as others?

    • backinpgh says:

      When I worked at a coffee place near a large university, we had free wifi and so we also had a lot of camped out students studying or typing away on laptops. This in itself didn’t bother me. What DID bother me (and these things actually happened): bringing your cup from yesterday so it looks like you bought something today; clipping your toenails at your table; shaving in our bathroom and leaving all your clippings behind; sitting outside on our bench using our wifi without buying something (we got a password after that); bringing coffee and food from McDonald’s next door and sitting in our shop to use the internet. It goes on and on…

  16. Swins says:

    It’s not rocket science, it’s not brain surgery…you are service people who made up a fancy name so people would stop calling java jerks. yawn

  17. SerenityDan says:

    I have a small issue about tipping at Starbucks. The company and the Baristas themselves push the Starbucks card. So I have one but now I don’t have change to tip them with. Am I really excepted to walk around with loose change that I would need to go out of my way to find since I pay with that card? I’m certainly not tipping a dollar for a 2 buck coffee.

    • sadie kate says:

      Do you go several times a week? They pool tips at Starbucks over the course of a week, so you could just toss a dollar in once a week, rather than a quarter every day. It will still get distributed the same way. I only go once every few weeks, so if I have a buck I toss it in the jar, and if I don’t, I don’t worry about it.

  18. winstonthorne says:

    I’m a 20% guy for anything involving table service (25% with a flat $5 minimum at my regular diner haunt), but I don’t really get the whole tipping-at-the-coffee-shop thing. If I have to walk up to you to place my order, carry it back to my own seat, and then clean off the table/counter when I am done, what service have you provided me that was so exceptional that it deserved a gratuity?

    • Dallas_shopper says:


    • madanthony says:

      there’s a locally owned place I go to occasionally to kill time that has a bottomless cup of coffee. I’ll throw in a tip when I order so I don’t feel so bad about the multiple refills I’m getting.

      Starbucks, not so much.

  19. Bodger says:

    “…and it’s a job that didn’t even exist 30 years ago.” So what were the guys running the espresso machines back in the 19th and earliest part of the 20th century called if not ‘barista’? A machine readily identifiable as a pump-type espresso machine was patented and sold in 1901 and more primitive steam machines were around more than a decade before that.

  20. s0s has a chewy nougat center says:

    I’ll tip at small, independent shops, but I very rarely tip at Starbucks. Last I heard, they got paid a lot more than I made at a job where I worked quite a bit harder.

    Also, that dirty chai? Sounds absolutely revolting. Why would you ruin perfectly good chai by putting coffee in it? (I like tea. I like coffee. I just don’t like them in the same damn cup.)

  21. 2 Replies says:

    Many of those are bullshit.

    (numbered from the actual article)

    #1 ” before 1982, finding a perfectly pulled espresso was a rarity” … it still is. Charbucks is crap. The swill they serve is NOT a perfectly pulled espresso.
    “Many baristas have college degrees and have chosen that life for their career.”
    So we should respect your lack of initiative or lack of success? Why should we respect your failure to succeed in the field of your degree?
    Stop crying into my steamed milk, slacker!
    Being given a fancy name since 1982 does not make you more a respectable professional.
    For peet’s sake, the majority of drinks have LESS INGREDIENTS than a big-mac!
    And many fast-food joints annually retrain/re-certify their line-workers to make sure they’re following prep guidelines.
    So don’t get smug and full of yourself.
    You’re still just pushing a fast-food product.

    #2 Subway also wants us to believe their employees are “artists”. Why would you think we’re going to believe you? Besides, being an “artist” does not mean you should be paid more. There is an artistic aspect to pretty much EVERY job out there.

    #2 Good point. Asking for a double-shot is a good tip. Just be sure you watch them make it because just because you paid for it does not mean the machine-jockey is paying attention to your order. It’s the umpteenth-hundred one he’s made, so he could just “go through the paces” and rip you off of the double-shot you paid for.
    I’ve had it happen.
    (Sometimes the blood-shot eyes and glazed look on some of the hippie-baristas aren’t from the coffee and boredom….)

    #7 A hobo-lattee yeah, old news. Those guys are really douchbags. I don’t feel bad for them though, since they’re using the luke-warm counter creamer that has been sitting out for who knows how long, and is harboring who knows how many types of bacteria. :-/

    #8 There aren’t “secret menus” it’s called “made up shit”. Also known as “you’re to lazy or indecisive to decide for yourself, so you’re letting the pusher feed you whatever they want”.
    To say it’s a secret menu item is bullshit. It implies a standardized item that they know about but don’t serve to customers. As if you could to to ANY coffee shop in the chain and they’d know how to recreate the item.

    #10 BIGGEST beef I’ve witnessed. I’ve seen them use the same damp dirty rag to wipe off the milk-steamer instead of properly steam-sanitizing it.
    I’ve even seen some wipe it off (thus recontaminating it) AFTER steam-flushing it!
    And along those same unsanitary lines, the same people preparing your coffee are also often handling cash. (Something that’s not even allowed at fast-food places like Taco Bell or Burger King.)

    Wonder why you can often get the runs after visiting a coffee shop?
    That really shouldn’t be a mystery…. >:-[

    • Mr. Rabbit says:

      Well since you seem to know EVERYTHING about working in a coffee shop … that damp rag you’re talking about is most likely being kept in a tray with a sanitizing solution. Steam sanitizing does work, but only if you can steam it for 4 minutes according to the CDC. I doubt that’s what you see them doing. So if the rag is not wet – I wouldn’t trust it.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      I don’t think they lack initiative. But then again I know someone over thirty who lives with his mother and has literally never worked a day in their lives.

  22. smo0 says:

    I worked at starbucks… the only thing I ask on behalf of my former co-workers.

    Don’t be a fucking asshole.
    …. and don’t trash the bathroom.

    Honestly, the barista’s dont care that you’re sitting around using the net – they don’t pay for it. Nurse your drink all you want – just know they have to sweep and do a cafe check every 10-15 minutes so be prepared to lift your feet.

    Outside of a Macchiato – venti’s only have 2 shots, the same as grande – they just have more milk, syrup… in other words more sugar and fat.

    NOT WORTH IT… if you want more shots you have to PAY for them, unless you have an awesome barista who hooks you up.

    If you didn’t get what you ordered, don’t scream or freak out – you’ll most likely get a free drink coupon and your drink made extra special – usually added pumps or shots.


  23. Corinthos says:

    I don’t tip unless I’m staying or they made my drink before. Same goes with the bar. I hate tipping for something that could be made poorly and I wouldn’t know until I have tasted it.

    My friend worked as a barista for awhile and made pretty good money off of tips alone. I think he got paid about 8 an hour but at the end of the year figured it out to be around 14 after tips and this was 4 or 5 years ago.

    • Earl Butz says:

      Wow, $28k/year? HE’S ROLLIN’ IN THE BENJAMINS, YO

      28 thousand/year is gutter-dwelling poverty level wages.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        No kidding. I work 15 hours a week and make about $24,000 a year. $28,000 a year for full-time hard putting up with people’s shit work isn’t so great.

      • Solkanar512 says:

        And many here think that’s way too much for UNSKILLED LABOR.

    • mramos says:

      4 to 5 years ago working in a relatively well off city of 50000 (Houses started at 500K) I may have made more than $2/hr in tips twice. And I got paid minimum wage. $14/hr definitely isn’t anywhere neat typical.

  24. Earl Butz says:

    Please don’t let your kids run behind the counter. There are things back there can can maim or kill them.

    Thanks, former barista/coffee monkey/whipping boy/whatever

    PS: I had nine shitty, self-entitled douchebag customers for every one that was nice. Looks like quite a few of the nine are posting on this thread. AS I EXPECTED.

  25. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I RTFA and can I just say that I don’t really give a rat’s ass what my barista won’t tell me? I am a polite customer. I come in, order my stuff, and just want to get what I ordered and go. I don’t care about stupid secrets or care that some baristas are so immature that they give the customer something other than what they ordered to get revenge (#10). Grow the fark up and keep your issues to yourselves.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      *won’t tell me .

      One day, I will post without having to post a correction underneath it. Or a correction to my correction.

  26. oldtaku says:

    If it’s an Americano though (which is just shots and hot water, no foofiness) you will get 4 shots in a venti instead of 3 for a grande. And if they’re out of the bold roast the Americano is far better than the Pike Place or Blonde.

  27. KidRey says:

    I’m lucky enough to be in love with a seasoned indie coffee shop vet (she’s a nurse now). You’d be surprised at the amount of social therapy a good barista provides-and is demanded of them! My girl was the stereotypical hot barista, so she also had her share of old man puppy dog crushes and occasional creeper as well. Those guys were fair tippers, but the real tippers were the regulars who appreciated some quick witty banter, the fact that she always remembered exactly how you wanted your latte made (which always came with amazing froth and a perfect rosetta!).

  28. Swag Valance says:

    I hate these articles. They’re formulaic and mimic the “Top 10 fashions to accentuate your bustline” pieces in Cosmo, just with fake higher brow aspirations.

    Please don’t.

  29. stoic says:

    I’ll have a large regular coffee, thank you.

  30. MECmouse says:

    Never been inside one and this article is part of the reason why.

  31. stuntman-james says:

    I agree with the wifi thing because I deal with it as a part owner of a beer and cigar shop where I live.

    However, I am filming a documentary about the service industry and how it is completely lost among the entitlement most people think they deserve. The biggest of douchebags I have come across are these no-skilled artisans who think making a cup of coffee makes them some kind of unique individual. If that was the case, then my assistant is fucking the Leonardo DaVinci of coffee makers. She should be in a museum or something.

    I had one actually mock me as I was trying to describe what I wanted. I mean how hard is it to serve a drink and display said drink in english instead of coming up with stupid names. I mean you either have coffee, espresso or cappuccino. When I came back later that week to film the owner, who actually is a great person who centers around the customer experience in his shop, I went to the actual “barista” who served me and asked him questions. He started getting nervous in his skinny jeans and Hipster uniform. Best time of my life.

    If your career aspirations are to jockey coffee, open your own shop and make your own beans. This guy roasts and ships his own beans and while I have to contend with irritating know it all kids from the college called the “Harvard of the South”, I kid you not when I tell you this guy makes one of the best cups of coffee next to my assistant. Of course I prefer her coffee only because she’s better looking.

  32. prosumer1 says:

    Surfing the net all day while sipping coffee is rude?! Wah, wah, wah…You don’t get enough tip. Listen, this article’s first point states that some of you have chosen this as your career. No one held a gun to your head to take this job. If you don’t like the pay, or complain about not being paid enough in tips, find another job.

    Barista my ass. I brew my own, and tastes better than your burnt-tasting foo-foo shit.

  33. It's So Cold in the D says:

    I worked at Seattle’s Best Coffee as a barista for six months, worst job I’ve ever had. Want to know the true list…

    1. I don’t understand why you tip. I pressed a few buttons on the machine, swirled in warm milk, and pumped a few shots of sugar-syrup into a cup. The minimum wage is suitable enough. I’d leave some nights with over $150 pocketed from tips. That’s insane.

    2. Don’t eat the food. It all comes in frozen or boxed, and is strictly enforced how it’s counted and what gets spoiled. At the location I worked at, if you spoiled something you’re written up. That meant something that fell on the ground… dust it off and put it back on the tray.

    3. Secret menu, what? No sir, no one knows what the hell you’re talking about. But if you describe what you’d like in the drink, I can put it together for you. But using these stupid code-terms that starbucks has come up with? Fantastic, because I have no idea what the hell you want.

    4. Free drinks? Become a regular non-hassling customer and you’ll get hooked up.

    5. Small cup of coffee? YOU SIR, are my favorite customer. Takes two seconds.

    6. Refilling the pot. Didn’t do it. I’m working eight hour shifts by myself until midnight. There’s times I let it lapse, more often then I’d like to admit.

    7. Learn the difference between a cappuccino and a latte. You want a latte. No one wants a cappuccino.

    8. Staying and surfing the net all day. I don’t care as long as your not taking up a seat while it’s crowded, hoarding magazines and leaving them in the cafe, or shoplifting. Actually, I really don’t care if you’re shoplifting.

    9. The “college dropout, law school graduate, juris barista, etc.” jokes are all lame. And you just got decaffed.

    10. The machines get cleaned nightly, at least where I worked. That was the easiest part of the job.

    11. ASK FOR SAMPLES! SUGGEST SAMPLES! Samples are a way for us to be able to make ourselves a drink without having to get sneaky about it. So when you say, oh let me sample Raspberry Peppermint Mocha Java Juice, that translates into “I’m making a large, and giving you a sample!”

    12. STOP. AND I REPEAT – STOP, complaining about the names of the sizes. We know you don’t speak Italian. And I really don’t care if you call it a small, medium, gargantuan. The naming is decided by the company, and I don’t need to hear about it 100 times a day!

    BONUS: Sir, truth is I hate coffee. I hate the smell of it. I hate the taste of it. I hate going home smelling like rancid milk every night. It wasn’t always this way, but when you deal with this crud on a daily basis, you start to despise it.

  34. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    “Many baristas have college degrees and have chosen that life for their career.”

    OK – then you’ve failed. Next.

    “And they’ve come pretty far from their humble beginnings ‚Äî before 1982, there was no special name for them.”

    And they needed a “special name” because…? Oooo…you can work an espresso machine and bubble milk with a wandy-thing. Sorry, but minimum-wage earners working pretty much anywhere learn “skills” pretty much as valuable as those – if not moreso.

    “Now that they’re basically essential to millions of Americans who don’t make coffee at home…”

    Anyone who “doesn’t make coffee at home” because their barista is “essential” to them needs to wake up and smell the damn coffee already.

    “…many chains train their baristas on an annual basis to make sure that espresso is perfect.”

    You know, just in case they suddenly forgot how to do what they do 100 times a day.

    “So don’t call them slackers.”

    See the first line of this post.


    K, I get it, there’s no reason to disparage baristas – but only in the same sense that there’s no reason to disparage anyone who does basic service work for a living. You should be polite to a barista for the same reason you should be polite to a busboy – because being polite is what you should do to anyone anyway.

    But to go off on this big self-important diatribe about how awesome baristas are, and how they go to college and then choose to make coffee for the rest of their lives “so don’t call them slackers” is just stupid. This reeks of the pomposity for which baristas *are* often made fun of – like the guy in the Samsung phone ad – and this article appears to support the notion that they deserve it.

  35. DrPizza says:

    “Many baristas have college degrees and have chosen that life for their career.”
    Translation: many baristas chose easy, worthless college majors that are useless in the real world.

  36. JaySherman says:

    I started frequenting a Starbucks because I normally work from home, they have free wi-fi and I needed a change. The staff at the store was very friendly and over time I have gotten to know each of them. Some worked their way through school and are now teachers, nurses etc. Others work there just for cash so they can focus on their true passion which is charity/helping others.

    The atmosphere at my Starbucks is almost like a bar. People come to socialize with each other as well as the baristas and instead of alcohol, they drink coffee.

    Many go out of their way to come to the one I frequent specifically because of the people who work there. When a young customer recently passed due to illness, many of the staff went to his funeral and the obit made it a point to say how he was having a rough time but interacting with the staff there and getting his drink used to brighten his day.

    Yes I may be able to make my own coffee at home but I choose not to – just like I could make a fancy dinner at home but choose occasionally to go to a restaurant and have someone do it for me.

    If you can afford to do so, there’s nothing wrong with doing it. If you want to get your coffee elsewhere, that’s your business.

  37. aleck says:

    Using “barista” a “venti” in the same sentence completely discredited the article. People making venti drinks are not baristas. It is like calling a guy serving you Buds in “Bob’s Roadside Tavern” a mixologist.