Has a customer asked you a question or say something that was completely out of line? Let us know here. The most common questions and phrases will become an article for my blog.

~Jennifer

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That pretty much sums it all up. As soon as a customer says "Italy" I lose hope..

Joona Suominen said:
"Not as good as in Italy"
"In Italy they do this and that"
"In Italy this costs.."
I recently poured a nearly flawless rosetta into a woman's 12oz hot chocolate. Just stunning, filling the entire mug with crisp white leaves against dark mocha brown. She was standing at the hand-off bar and, being rather proud of myself, I was smiling as I handed her the mug. Had I reacted naturally, I'm sure I would have been fired as she scowled down at the drink. Using her long, acrylic index finger nail she said,

"Ew... what... is... this...? I... don't... want... this..."

as she splashed the foam from the top of the hot chocolate onto the counter between each word. I didn't say a word, poured her another from the stale, separated milk in a different pitcher, which she took after rolling her eyes and thanking me.
Who would of thought that art was not appreciated? So sad. At least YOU know it was awesome.
I've had plenty of customers tell me how to make things. Its like "Well at least you know what to do because I sure havent been able to figure it out in the last 15 years!" I once had a customer tell me as I handed her a Latte "Uh..Lattes come with Whipped Cream" I also get alot of people asking for half cappuccino half hot chocolate (I assume they are used to buying their cappuccinos from gas stations) so I just make them a mocha & they love it. I've also had a ton (I mean a ton) of people say "Oh, I dont want a cappuccino because it has too much sugar in it...give me a vanilla latte instead" I love that one. Or just simply the people that order a cappuccino & then complain that its not sweet. I also once had someone argue all day with me about how to pronounce robusto (He said something like Rubostu) He doesnt even drink coffee, he just heard it on TV & insisted I didnt know what I was talking about. But the best was when the Caramel Macchiato got big I would have people just order a Macchiato & I would make them a Macchiato. Which of course they would then tell me was wrong. Oh yeah, and the people that order an espresso & then asks where the rest of it is. I always say "I cant compete with stupid nor can you fix stupid."
The half coffee half hot chocolate thing is how customers would order a better version of Dunkins' "Dunkacchino"

It's not necessarily that customers are stupid, they are merely ignorant to the commercialized hype advertising, which is why independent cafe's have to be the real teachers. Educate and share with them something better in hopes they convert to the good side.

Mitch Buckner - Bella Caffe said:
I've had plenty of customers tell me how to make things. Its like "Well at least you know what to do because I sure havent been able to figure it out in the last 15 years!" I once had a customer tell me as I handed her a Latte "Uh..Lattes come with Whipped Cream" I also get alot of people asking for half cappuccino half hot chocolate (I assume they are used to buying their cappuccinos from gas stations) so I just make them a mocha & they love it. I've also had a ton (I mean a ton) of people say "Oh, I dont want a cappuccino because it has too much sugar in it...give me a vanilla latte instead" I love that one. Or just simply the people that order a cappuccino & then complain that its not sweet. I also once had someone argue all day with me about how to pronounce robusto (He said something like Rubostu) He doesnt even drink coffee, he just heard it on TV & insisted I didnt know what I was talking about. But the best was when the Caramel Macchiato got big I would have people just order a Macchiato & I would make them a Macchiato. Which of course they would then tell me was wrong. Oh yeah, and the people that order an espresso & then asks where the rest of it is. I always say "I cant compete with stupid nor can you fix stupid."
Oh I know most customers arent stupid, they are just misinformed by others. Or as you said, they havent been correctly taught. Exactly why its hard for me to hire someone that has worked a long time in a starbucks type setting. You have to reteach them which is much harder than teaching a tabula rasa. You sometimes have to reteach your customers. But I also say "most" customers arent stupid. There are still quite a few out there!! I've actually had customers reply to this question: "Would you like a 16oz or 20oz smoothie?" with "Uh...which ones bigger?" or "Which ones cheaper?" I now do a mobile coffee shop so Im setup in a trailer. You walk up to a window & order. Its a 3 piece window, middle piece slides over to talk to customers & serve drinks out, the other 2 pieces are just clear glass. One of them has a menu on it that covers 2/3rds of that glass. People come up to the window all the time & look all over the place & ask where the menu is. I point 6 inches from their head at the menu & they go "Oh. I didnt see it there" Its a 12x17" printed menu that is eye level directly in front of them!! I also have people that will come up to me & ask if I have any "hot" coffees. My big banner up top says "Featuring Frozen Cappuccinos" since most of my shows are in the summer. I didnt realize that all of my signs that say Coffee, Cappuccinos, Lattes, & Mochas had to have the word Hot in front of them. I thought that was assumed when talking about coffee. If it was cold it would say Iced or Frozen. But now I have to actually have all of my signs say Hot so people know I have both hot & cold drinks. But I also think alot of the "stupid" ones are just lazy when it comes down to it. They dont want to read the signs or menu. They woudl rather assume something or just ask. And I dont have a problem answering questions. But when I've got a line 10 deep & someone has been standing in that line for 5 minutes with the menu right in front of them & instead of reading the menu they wait until its their turn & they start asking me what I have instead of reading it, then it gets to be a problem. Of course I know that being mobile & being in a different city every weekend & not always having "regulars" makes it feel like I've got alot dumber people to deal with when in fact its mostly just they dont know how to order from me & Im always as helpful as possible to them....but once they leave I always talk about em!! Im actually going to start writing down everything I've heard at shows & put them in a book called The Smell of Cabbage: My Life as a Carney A collection of the dumbest things I've heard & seen while traveling across the country.

Jennifer Vaaler said:
The half coffee half hot chocolate thing is how customers would order a better version of Dunkins' "Dunkacchino"

It's not necessarily that customers are stupid, they are merely ignorant to the commercialized hype advertising, which is why independent cafe's have to be the real teachers. Educate and share with them something better in hopes they convert to the good side.

Mitch Buckner - Bella Caffe said:
I've had plenty of customers tell me how to make things. Its like "Well at least you know what to do because I sure havent been able to figure it out in the last 15 years!" I once had a customer tell me as I handed her a Latte "Uh..Lattes come with Whipped Cream" I also get alot of people asking for half cappuccino half hot chocolate (I assume they are used to buying their cappuccinos from gas stations) so I just make them a mocha & they love it. I've also had a ton (I mean a ton) of people say "Oh, I dont want a cappuccino because it has too much sugar in it...give me a vanilla latte instead" I love that one. Or just simply the people that order a cappuccino & then complain that its not sweet. I also once had someone argue all day with me about how to pronounce robusto (He said something like Rubostu) He doesnt even drink coffee, he just heard it on TV & insisted I didnt know what I was talking about. But the best was when the Caramel Macchiato got big I would have people just order a Macchiato & I would make them a Macchiato. Which of course they would then tell me was wrong. Oh yeah, and the people that order an espresso & then asks where the rest of it is. I always say "I cant compete with stupid nor can you fix stupid."
Whenever a customer starts out saying, "Well at Starbucks I get...." Then when I can't make that drink or I don't know what it is since I do not go to Starbucks, I am suddenly the idiot. How did that happen?

Any time a customer compares your indy shop to a Starbucks is out of line.
On the other hand, I went into a...place that advertised that they sold espresso (can't really make myself call it a coffeehouse), and asked for a latte. After watching her make my friends (plunging the steamwand into and out of the coffee) I asked for a latte with no foam. She looked at me and said "lattes don't come with foam". I just bit my tongue.

Kenia Perez said:
It bothers me when a customer asks for a latte with no foam. I explain that that's exactly what a latte is, so no need to specify "no foam." If it had foam it would be a cappucino. Maybe customers just need to be educated more, but it was slightly annoying. :-P I only worked for a few days at this independent coffeehouse last summer, and I was surprised and how many people made that request over that short period of time that I was there.
On our wall, we have a small white board that says "your barista today is"...and then the name. I had a guy come in and suggest that when I work, I change it to say "your barrister today".... because didn't I know that barrister was the masculine form of barista. Smile and nod.
bar·ris·ter
Pronunciation: \ˈber-ə-stər, ˈba-rə-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English barrester, from barre bar + -ster (as in legister lawyer)
Date: 15th century

: a counsel admitted to plead at the bar and undertake the public trial of causes in an English superior court — compare solicitor

Bill Nostrom said:
On our wall, we have a small white board that says "your barista today is"...and then the name. I had a guy come in and suggest that when I work, I change it to say "your barrister today".... because didn't I know that barrister was the masculine form of barista. Smile and nod.
Kenia Perez said:
It bothers me when a customer asks for a latte with no foam. I explain that that's exactly what a latte is, so no need to specify "no foam." If it had foam it would be a cappucino. Maybe customers just need to be educated more, but it was slightly annoying. :-P I only worked for a few days at this independent coffeehouse last summer, and I was surprised and how many people made that request over that short period of time that I was there.

Not to digress, but a latte should have a little foam. Perhaps you might be confusing a latte with a flat white?
Joona Suominen said:
"Not as good as in Italy"
"In Italy they do this and that"
"In Italy this costs.."

Agreed. You could also sub "Seattle".

I once had a customer explain to me that the reason that the coffee was so much better in Seattle was that "all of the bosses live there, and could walk in the door at any minute."

I politely pointed out that "the boss" of our shop was up at the register, and was in our shop every day.


My personal least-favorite statement is some variation of "I've never had your drink before, but can you make it differently?"

I usually explain how we make it, try to figure out what they are looking for, and often talk them into trying it "our way" first with an offer to remake it if it isn't to their liking. Guess how many I've re-made?

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