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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YES SIRE! That's exactly what I was talking about. :)

Jackson Ball said:
Joona Suominen said:
there's always a few rotten apples among them.

Joona Suominen said:
It's somewhat annoying when they are treating us baristas like the "trained apes" and as if they could do it all so much better in their little home kitchens. The freezing stare of a home barista looking for mistakes usually finds one. These mistakes they find are usually just different and more skillful work methods that have been adapted to the requirements of professional coffee making.
speaking as one of those "tin hat homebaristas" who notices flaws in other baristas, i must say that some baristas ARE just trained apes.
I usually don't complain, but if i see something really bad i will let them know. For example, i had a barista not tamp the grounds in the portafilter before pulling the shot. The result is what you would expect, an extremely watery shot that was diluted by too much poorly textured milk(that came from a community 32oz pitcher of reheated milk)...not worth my $3.50 by any means.

I'm not rude, and i don't snobbly act like i know better than them. Usually i just give my drink away to someone tapping away at a laptop in the shop. But i do get mad that the same baristas that brag about how easy it is to be a barista, are the ones that do a terrible job. And whats worse...i have applied at a couple of these coffee shops and they hired that bum over me because of the year of starbucks experience they had over my homebarista experience.

This is all made more troubling when i pay 4 dollars for a poorly made drink, when i could have bought a pound of green coffee and roasted it with that same 4 bucks.
I work at Starbucks so the crowd I usually deal with tends not o expect too much from me. Unfortunately, this makes the home baristas or snobby independent shop workers really stand out. I recently had a lady approach the counter and detail every aspect of her latte order to our register person. She used the word "micro-foam" and "ristretto" about 10 times each and refused to use and other descriptors when it was obvious that out employee had no idea what she was talking about. I pulled the lady aside and told her that I could absolutely accommodate her but that she really should consider where she was and reevaluate her expectations and possibly be a bit more gracious. She seemed a little huffy until I poured her a rosetta with a heart inside and didn't seem the least bit put off when I pointed her in the direction of several local coffee shops.

I think local and home baristas who are sassy to those of us behind the counter are usually only working from one frame of reference. They may be passionate about espresso but are convinced that the way they were taught is he only correct way to do things. In most cases, they just need to be put in their place and develop a bit more maturity and a wider scope.

Alex, I think the places you're describing would hire the Starbucks schmuck over you because they're looking for the kind of person who will keep their head down, do what they're told, and not make waves. It sounds to me like you should try applying to some shops who care more about innovation and quality.
Jennifer Vaaler said:
Although, if everyone agreed on the same method, obviously NOT the bux way, then customers might just become educated correctly.

Yeah, that's kinda my point. Most of the 'instructions' that baristi get are folk describing what they'd like to get because the menu is unreliable. I've taught Starbucks PBTC to microfoam milk, and a couple of them have thanked me. I always offer to 'show them something new that tastes really nice' if I end up in a Starbucks, and most of them are curious enough to at least give it a try.

Joona Suominen said:

To me it seems like you are a little bit defensive here ;) I think it's the attitude that you 'need to take someone off' is where the problems start. Coffee shouldn't be a competition (ok.. it can be but there's only baristas competing), it should be a way of improving the quality of life.



Your not reading the posts for content. I *do* understand that my best espresso pulled after fifteen minutes of prep is going to have an advantage over the barista that has to have half-a-dozen drinks up in that same time, liek when I said, "I recognise that I do have the advantage of time no one telling me how and how fast I have to make my drinks, but if I can kick your butt at home, you aren't really doing a great job." That means that if my every day shots are so much better than your every minute shots, and you get to practice your craft a few hundred times a day while I'm pulling three, maybe four doppio on average, you're not doing so well. You should be better than I am, but you should at very least, not be worse than I am. If you are, I'm sorry, as a professional, you suck. You just do. I'm not that great, I just know how to make an espresso that doesn't suck. If you can't pull that off, find a job that you *can* do.
You would never pay any other professional if his product or performance was worse than what you could do yourself. I simply expect a professional to be able top perform *AT LEAST* as well as I could do.
And I'm the one that's defensive?
All I'm asking is that if you have the stones to ask me to pay you to do something for me, that you're good at it, and that I get what I want to get. I don't see the problem with that. Neither do your customers. And if problems with that suddenly arise, they're probably going to say things that you aren't really comfortable with.
But that doesn't necessarily make them wrong, or bad customers.
I used to get that all the time. Ordering an espresso & then asking where the rest of it was (or just looking at it & then giving me the "I KILL you!" stare). I dont know what they expected to get. But I do also have people come up & order "One of those Lats (I guess they are trying to say Lattes) or capocheenees" Who knows. I have also had someone come up & look at the menu for a while & then plop 75 cents on the counter & say "Give me an 'Add a shot of espresso to any drink' Please". "Umm sir, you have to order another drink first to be able to add an extra shot of espresso to it." That ones fun. I dont make this stuff up! I have called friends just so someone else can enjoy it with me after I've heard customers ask things. Now, when someone comes up that is uneducated in the world of coffee (outside of Folgers at home) I walk them through it & make sure we get them the drink that they are going to be happiest with and explain the differences between everything. I dont have a problem with those type of people, they have never been educated. And then theres just people that dont care or think they know everything or have been miseducated by other places (whether it be other coffee shops, gas stations, restaurants, or the movies). But then theres just the funny & totally crazy off the wall stuff & those are the guys you've gotta laugh at (or cry for later). I once had a lady order a 12oz coffee, pour out about a quarter of it on the ground & then proceed to open up 27 packs of sweetner (1 at a time) and add it to her coffee.

Deanna Kennedy said:
I have never had this happen... what are people expecting when they ask for espresso and are disappointed? regular coffee? I have not run across someone who did not know what espresso was when they ordered... lucky me I guess!

Cedric said:
I ask a customer if they know what they're ordering when they want an espresso to go. Then they say yes and when I hand them there espresso in our small to go cup, they look at it and ask where's the rest of it.
I'm sure that this is not what you experienced, but i am going to have to chime in and mention (off topic) that i have regularly had fantastic shots that were not tamped.

Seriously, try it some time. Dose, level, distribute as you normally would, then just lock it in & pull the shot. You won't even have to adjust the grind. This will not make a mess of your group. It's about 5% messier than pulling a shot normally. 9 bar pretty much tamps your espresso for you. You will be left with a solid puck afterwards. Bottomless, they look more even than some of my tamped shots. They taste quite different though. The bottom end of your flavor profile will be diminished, while the citrus & floral acidity will be accentuated.

Like i said, this is probably not what you experienced, but there is merit to the technique if done properly.

Alex Stoffregen said:
speaking as one of those "tin hat homebaristas" who notices flaws in other baristas, i must say that some baristas ARE just trained apes.
I usually don't complain, but if i see something really bad i will let them know. For example, i had a barista not tamp the grounds in the portafilter before pulling the shot. The result is what you would expect, an extremely watery shot that was diluted by too much poorly textured milk(that came from a community 32oz pitcher of reheated milk)...not worth my $3.50 by any means.

I'm not rude, and i don't snobbly act like i know better than them. Usually i just give my drink away to someone tapping away at a laptop in the shop. But i do get mad that the same baristas that brag about how easy it is to be a barista, are the ones that do a terrible job. And whats worse...i have applied at a couple of these coffee shops and they hired that bum over me because of the year of starbucks experience they had over my homebarista experience.

This is all made more troubling when i pay 4 dollars for a poorly made drink, when i could have bought a pound of green coffee and roasted it with that same 4 bucks.
Yeah I almost cross-referenced the other thread where we were talking about the tamp/light tamp/no tamp thing and you brought this up, but I figured you would chime in and then I wouldn't have to look around for that thread ;)

-bry
Every morning the opening barista at JN does a "espresso analysis". You work with the coffee and decide based on what tastes best how the coffee is treated that day. So when the closer comes in, they're given the run down. The other day Ash comes in and i'm like "19gr, 1.5oz., 26 seconds, and well... don't tamp it."

But if that's how it tastes best that day, then that's what we will do.

Bryan Wray said:
Yeah I almost cross-referenced the other thread where we were talking about the tamp/light tamp/no tamp thing and you brought this up, but I figured you would chime in and then I wouldn't have to look around for that thread ;)

-bry
"Is this the latte or the drip coffee?"
Yeah, seriously.
And on more than one occasion.
I don't know if this is exactly out of line, but if you are an adult that doesn't know the difference between a latte and a drip coffee, maybe you shouldn't be ordering coffee. I can understand some confusion when it comes to the difference in appearance between a latte and cappuccino, or latte and mocha, but come on, drip coffee?
yeah. we get all of the above.
some of my favorites are
1) "my drink is not hot enough "
2) "i cant taste the coffee in this 6 shot 20 oz americano"
3) "ugh, this latte tastes like coffee"
4) disappointed face when we tell them we dont have the green tea/lemonade framboozles that they have at charbux.



plus, we get alot of customers who assume that we a)dont have any other employable skills besides making coffee b) that we must be in school and this is what we are doing to support ourselves while studying c) rude people that assume that because i am behind the counter and that they are buying a coffee for $2, that i am automatically their slave whilst they are in the shop.

90% of my co-workers have a bachelor's degree. some of whom are working on their master's.
i can, in fact, perform elementary math
and the only people who get to tell me what to do are the people who sign my paychecks.(unless tip is approximately 50% or higher). money talks. bullshit walks.
Chris said:
You would never pay any other professional if his product or performance was worse than what you could do yourself.
Most people do that quite a lot, actually. You, too, I bet. I can make a better hamburger at home than any of the stands I know of. But, sometimes I'm walking or driving around town and don't happen to have any raw meat or a Weber grill with me. So, I go to a hamburger stand because it's convenient, they save me some cookiing and cleanup time. And maybe I just feel like being out in the company of other people. Didn't Howard Schulz call it "the third place?"

There are lots of reasons people go to a coffee shop, and showing off their personal expertise usually ranks fairly low on the list. In any event, there is never an excuse for being rude to a barista (unless, maybe, they were rude to you!).
Marshall Fuss said:
Chris said:
In any event, there is never an excuse for being rude to a barista (unless, maybe, they were rude to you!).

Some of the things aren't really rude, though, Marshall, but are considered rude by the barista receiving them. If I order, "a double espresso with about the same amount of milk, microfoamed, for a drink no more than five or six ounces max" a lot of baristi get a bit, shall we say, 'hasty'. If I order a "competition cappuccino, but put both shots in it", and the barista responds, "A competition capp only has one shot in it", are they being snotty or stupid? Or just rude? Am I allowed to be rude back?
I don't troll shops to show off my skills, either. I go there because they advertise espresso. Usually they say that it's good. I take my knowledge with me, and compare to what I can do at home because it's a fair metric.
Comparing a barista to a paper-hat 'burger flipper isn't really the comparison I'd make, and it really isn't a flattering one, by any shakes. I can cook a lasagna, too, and if I go to a nice Italian restaurant, you damn betcha I expect them to be able to put together a better lasagna than mine. Or at least as good as mine. And no, I do expect a professional to get better results than mine. I do *not* include fast food in that category. And that's probably why I tend only to go get fast food as fuel, and only if I've planned poorly.
I'm not sure why I'd get an argument for the philosophy that a professional barista should be able to keep up, if not kick my butt.
Go ahead. Tell me that the expectation that a barista should be excused from being as good as me. If I were a great guru of coffee, or an exceptional barista, yeah, but I'm just pretty good. I know how to work the machinery, and how to tweak a pull till it's decent, and how to keep repeating that. If you don't know that, you probably shouldn't be behind the bar by yourself yet.

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