Ever wondered if your barista at your favorite coffee shop is hiding some big industry secrets under that green apron? Well, here’s some top industry secrets that you probably never knew about:
1. They know straight away if you’re going to order an alternative milk
Non-dairy people just have a certain look about them, okay? They know their way around a good coffee shop and are usually wearing a tee from their favorite local coffee roaster. It’s not a bad thing, they’re always the coolest people in the queue. Oat flat white to go, please.
2. And they’re going to judge you based on which one you choose
Oat milk is obviously the best dairy alternative, and this is not up for discussion. Almond milk is too watery, coconut milk adds a coconutty flavor that isn’t always welcome and soya milk is just boring. Dairy milk is always a safe bet too, but oat is definitely the most popular for plant-based folk!
3. If you want your name spelled properly, spell it out
People love to complain when their name isn’t spelled correctly, but have you heard how loud a coffee machine is? With all that’s going on in a barista’s ear at any one moment, it’s no surprise they don’t always hear your name right. Just spell it out for them to avoid any mistakes.
4. They’ve seen all the TikTok hack videos
Nothing strikes fear into a barista’s heart more than scrolling through TikTok one night to find that there’s a new, super complicated drink going viral. This means they’ll spend their whole next shift making it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t order it, but just be patient if it’s a crazy order! It may take some time.
5. A small drink and a large cup of ice isn’t the hack you think it is…
Think that this hack will get you a larger drink for free? Most coffee shops measure out the correct amount of ice so that it doesn’t water down the flavor. You’ll just end up with a coffee that is 90% ice cubes, and no one wants that.
6. Ordering a coffee iced doesn’t make it more difficult for your server
Lots of people feel reluctant to order iced coffees in fear of being ‘difficult’. Actually, it’s usually the opposite – an iced coffee means that there’s no need to steam the milk so the only process that takes some time is pulling the espresso shots. If it’s a hot day, just go for the iced latte, you know you want to.
7. You might sometimes get decaf when you didn’t ask for it
Look, if it’s a busy day, your barista is sometimes making up to 5 drinks at once. All espresso shots, both caffeinated and not, look and smell the same, so if a decaf shot ends up in your latte, you probably won’t even know about it. If you do notice that you’re lacking your usual caffeine buzz, this could very well be the reason why.
8. You might also get ‘dead shots’
If a barista can hear your order before you actually collect it, they’ll probably queue enough espresso shots for the next few drinks on their machine. This means that by the time the espresso is in your cup, it could have been oxygenated for too long and be ‘dead’, which often leaves a bitter taste.
9. A macchiato at Starbuck’s is different to the rest of the world
At Starbucks, one of their most famous drinks is the caramel macchiato; a regular sized coffee made with vanilla syrup, milk, espresso and caramel drizzle. However, to the rest of the coffee world, a macchiato is simply a double or single espresso with a dollop of steamed milk on top. This often makes for a lot of coffee confusion!
10. If you’re nice to them, you’ll definitely get extra toppings for free
Speaking of caramel drizzle, it usually costs extra if you want a good slathering. However, if you place your order with a smile, your barista may just give you a few extra swirls around the inside of your cup for free. It really does pay to be nice.
11. They take a lot of pride in their latte art
Have you ever wondered why it can take so long when you order a flat white? It’s because chances are, your barista spent time creating beautiful latte art, even if it’s in a takeaway cup. Maybe lift the lid next time before you take that first sip to appreciate all their hard work.
12. Latte art is a skill that takes years to perfect
It’s true, many chain coffee shops even have global barista championships where baristas can compete to create the best latte art. It’s a skill that requires steaming the milk just right and pouring just the right amount of foam to create designs such as hearts, tulips and even swans.
13. The secret to perfect latte art is…
Whole milk. It’s higher fat content allows for a silkier foam and because it’s slightly thicker, you’re less likely to get some pesky bubbles that could ruin your latte art chances. If you ever see your barista banging the milk jug on the counter before they pour, this is because the impact will remove any bubbles from the foam and create a seamless pour.
14. Your milk is steamed to 145.5°F, exactly
That’s right, the milk steamers are usually automatically set to an exact temperature so that the milk does not burn and ruin the quality of your coffee. Also, this is to ensure that your coffee stays warm enough for your morning commute, but doesn’t burn your tongue.
15.If you want some good latte art, kids temperature is the way to go
The lower temperature that kids drinks are steamed to make for a smoother milk pour. Although it’s only a difference of a few degrees, it greatly decreases the chances of any bubbles or too much foam to ruin the milk. If you want a good Instagram picture, go cooler.
16. Getting your drink extra-hot ruins the milk’s silkiness
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that getting your milk steamed to a very high temperature will ruin it. Not only will the drink be far too foamy, meaning when it settles you’ll have a cup that isn’t full, but it won’t taste great either.
17. Every fancy coffee boils down to three components
What type of beans are used, what milk and syrups are used, and what way all of this is combined. That’s it. Although lots of coffee shops give their coffees fancy names, every barista knows that the entire menu involves slight alterations to the classics. But that doesn’t meant there aren’t a lot of recipes to remember.
18. There isn’t really a secret menu
If you bring a recipe that you’ve found online, and the barista has the correct ingredients, there shouldn’t be any problems making your secret menu drink. However, don’t expect your barista to know the recipe off the top of their head to a ‘secret menu’ drink that you saw on social media.
19. If you tick off a barista, you’re definitely getting less espresso
It takes a long time to pour shots sometimes, and if you left a bad impression on your barista, they might not wait for the full double espresso to pour. The moral of the story here is, just be nice to your barista and you’ll get a nice coffee, if not, they might not put as much effort into your brew.
20. No, it’s not funny to give a fake name for your cup
Yes, this is usually something kids do, and can be cute at times; but it’s not all that funny to give a fake name for your cup. Your barista has to call your name out when your drink is ready, and it embarrasses them to call out ‘Batman’ just as much as it will inevitably embarrass you to collect it.
21. It’s okay if you don’t tip at a chain coffee shop
Don’t worry, your barista won’t be mad if you don’t tip at a chain coffee shop. Times are tough, and with a latte that already costs at least $5, no one expects you to tip. However, at an independent coffee shop, it’s always nice to tip and show support for your local businesses.
22. Signing up for the rewards system always snags you a bargain
Lots of coffee shops, like Starbucks, have a rewards system where you sign up, and usually end up saving money. With a Starbucks card, you become a gold member after 15 orders and after this point, get all extras (like syrups and milks) for free. Definitely worth it.
23. Baristas can see through your fancy coffee order
Lots of customers think that the order point is the perfect place to flex their coffee knowledge muscles, however, usually end up ordering something that doesn’t actually make sense. No, you can’t have your americano extra-hot, it’s literally already boiling water.
24. Coffee really does differ from roast to roast
That being said, coffee snobs do have a point when they say that they prefer coffee from a certain region. Most coffee comes from either Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, Indonesia or Ethiopia, and depending on the bean and how long it’s roasted for, the taste varies drastically. If you don’t like one type, try another blend.
25. There’s no such thing as a dry latte
A latte is made with silky milk that is foam-free but has a layer of micro-foam, hence why you can make designs in the milk. Asking for your latte dry adds more bubbles and pushes it into cappuccino territory. Maybe you actually just wanted a weak cappuccino after all.
26. There’s no such thing as a wet cappuccino
And on that same note, cappuccinos are characterised by their foamy layer and the cup that your cappuccino is in should be very light due to the milk being well aerated. If you’re not so fond of the bubbles, a latte could be more your speed.
27. Nothing brings a barista more joy than your dog at the drive-thru
After a long shift pulling shots all day, nothing brings a smile to a barista’s face more than meeting your pup at the drive thru window. A little furry face really does make a barista’s shift ten times better, so next time you’re taking your dog in the car, stop by the drive-thru.
28. ‘Pup-cups’ are free of charge
There’s something in it for your furry friend too. Many coffee shops, including Starbucks, will give your dog a ‘pup-cup’ or ‘puppuccino’ for free. This is just a little espresso cup filled with whipped cream and makes for a cute photo opportunity with your pet.
29. As are ‘babyccinos’
Most coffee shops will also make you a ‘babyccino’ for free! Much like a puppuccino, you can get a treat for your kids too; this is essentially a small cup of steamed milk (at kid’s temperature) with some chocolate sprinkles on top so that your little one feels all grown up at your next coffee shop outing.
30. You can get free refills on your pour-over
Most coffee shops will offer free refills on their filter or pour over coffee. This is because this is often brewed in large batches and needs tossed out every few hours anyway. Next time you want to work from a coffee shop but are on a budget, just order a pour over and get as many free refills as you like.
31. Baristas actually don’t mind if you sit in a coffee shop all day and only order one thing
Working from home can be fun, but sometimes it’s nice to get out of the house. Although some establishments have policies regarding working in a coffee shop because you’re taking up a table for hours; most baristas themselves don’t mind it. It’s always nice to chat to regulars who stay for a while and it means less wiping down tables for them.
32. Nobody is judging you for taking a photo for Instagram
Lots of people think that you’re going to get judged by a barista for taking a photo of your frappuccino or coffee – this isn’t true. In fact, your barista worked hard to make your drink look as aesthetically pleasing as possible so if you post a photo of it on your Instagram it will show that you appreciate their craftsmanship.
33. Drinking your coffee black doesn’t make you cool
Look, it’s okay if you like your coffee black – lots of people do. But, if you’re just tolerating black coffee because you’re afraid to order a fun drink for fear of looking like an un-serious caffeine enthusiast, don’t worry about it! If you want those five extra pumps of caramel syrup, you have those five extra pumps of caramel syrup.
34. Ask for your syrups first
For any barista, there’s nothing more annoying than making a drink in it’s entirety and when you go to give it to a customer, they ask for syrup to be added. Firstly, that stuff costs extra. Secondly, syrup needs to go in the drink first so it mixes well with the coffee and milk. Please, please – specify that you want syrups when you first make your order.
35. You need to specify if you want your drink iced
No, some drinks don’t automatically come iced. Yes, if it’s a blended frappuccino, of course that comes cold. But, other popular drinks like mochas and caramel macchiatos don’t automatically come iced, you need to ask your barista for the iced variation. Baristas are good, but they’re not mind-readers.
36. Baristas get to try all the new drinks first
One of the perks of working as a barista is that they usually get to taste all the new drinks before they are released to the public. It makes sense, they need to be trained experts at making the new drinks by the time they are ready to order, and that involves lots of sampling to make sure the flavors are just right.
37. Baristas have to do regular coffee tastings
Working as a barista does have it’s scientific side – most baristas have to conduct regular coffee tastings as part of their development. This involves brewing the perfect pour over with the right amount of coffee to water ratio and then pairing the coffee with food items that compliment the flavors.
38. Baristas don’t get as many free coffees as they want
Contrary to popular belief, most coffee shops don’t just let their baristas have as many free coffees as they want – this is because they need to be able to monitor their stock levels precisely. Maybe that’s a good thing though, most businesses cap it at three coffees per shift, which is more caffeine than most people can handle anyway.
39. Baristas appreciate you using your re-usable cup
Who doesn’t love an eco-friendly customer? If you bring your own cup next time you want to order a takeaway coffee, not only will your barista and the planet appreciate it; but you could get a discount off of your drink. So next time you think about grabbing a quick coffee, why not be kind to the planet and bring your own cup?
40. Being a barista is not an easy job
This is a common misconception; maybe it’s because being a barista is often a job best suited to college-students and young people, but that doesn’t mean that being a barista is easy. From working shifts that start at the crack of dawn, to weekend shifts, to having to deal with difficult customers; baristas really go through it. Be nice to your local barista!