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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I think these types of people are more frustrating than typical new customers.




Jason Campbell said:
..........WHAT IS THAT THING ?...................

So, I opened my own shop about 5 months ago here in Blowing Rock NC....... and let me first say that I love to educate people about coffee...i am a true coffee GEEK!

For me, this is more frustrating than a typical new customer.

The best one yet goes as follows......

young guy walks towards counter ( hair full of gel and sunglasses still on) with a small entourage behind him waiting for him to speak to me

Him: so, what kind of drinks can you make?

Me: I can make a variety of traditional italian coffee/espresso drinks and a bunch of other fun stuff....

Him: I! would like a triple shot raspberry mocha chinno......

Me: Im on it... ( he turns to his friends and smiles) then engages me once again before I can begin

Him: Are you sure you know how to make that drink???

Me: ( being the nice guy I am) Well, I can make a drink that will be sure to meet your expectations or we will pour it out and make you another till I get it right...

Him: ( while he is pulling out his I PAD ) WELL! I AM A BARISTA! At StarBUX!!!! one of his friends says "yeah, hes a barista..."

Me: That is great, I love working with coffee. ( I turn on the Super Jolly and begin to throw fresh ground espresso into the portafilter.......

Him: What is that thing?????? refering to the espresso grinder

Me: (dumbfounded....mouth breathing....stunned for a moment.) I stop the grinder to clarify that he is asking about the grinder and he confirms .......... I say," This is an espresso grinder". I thought he was pullin my leg, he was most certainly not!!! I begin to explain the whole process of fresh ground espresso being thrown into the ptf then tamped........and then the extraction process, as his mom walks up and interupts me to inform me that her son is a barista. I smile and think to myself......I Love My Job!!!!!!

This is what happens when you are trained on a super auto machine with no other formal barista training............thanks STRBX!!!

Yeah, my favorite way to address a customer who claims "I'm a barista at Starbucks" is to reply "No you aren't, that's impossible. Not a barista by my definition at least."

I have plenty of friends who work for Starbucks, and all of them would define their job in just such a way, none of them actually claim to be a barista at Starbucks.

Sometimes arrogance is the best self-medication around, lol.

-bry

Jason Campbell said:
..........WHAT IS THAT THING ?...................

So, I opened my own shop about 5 months ago here in Blowing Rock NC....... and let me first say that I love to educate people about coffee...i am a true coffee GEEK!

The best one yet goes as follows......

young guy walks towards counter ( hair full of gel and sunglasses still on) with a small entourage behind him waiting for him to speak to me

Him: so, what kind of drinks can you make?

Me: I can make a variety of traditional italian coffee/espresso drinks and a bunch of other fun stuff....

Him: I! would like a triple shot raspberry mocha chinno......

Me: Im on it... ( he turns to his friends and smiles) then engages me once again before I can begin

Him: Are you sure you know how to make that drink???

Me: ( being the nice guy I am) Well, I can make a drink that will be sure to meet your expectations or we will pour it out and make you another till I get it right...

Him: ( while he is pulling out his I PAD ) WELL! I AM A BARISTA! At StarBUX!!!! one of his friends says "yeah, hes a barista..."

Me: That is great, I love working with coffee. ( I turn on the Super Jolly and begin to throw fresh ground espresso into the portafilter.......

Him: What is that thing?????? refering to the espresso grinder

Me: (dumbfounded....mouth breathing....stunned for a moment.) I stop the grinder to clarify that he is asking about the grinder and he confirms .......... I say," This is an espresso grinder". I thought he was pullin my leg, he was most certainly not!!! I begin to explain the whole process of fresh ground espresso being thrown into the ptf then tamped........and then the extraction process, as his mom walks up and interupts me to inform me that her son is a barista. I smile and think to myself......I Love My Job!!!!!!

This is what happens when you are trained on a super auto machine with no other formal barista training............thanks STRBX!!!
Ah, if only...



Bryan Wray said:
Yeah, my favorite way to address a customer who claims "I'm a barista at Starbucks" is to reply "No you aren't, that's impossible. Not a barista by my definition at least."

I have plenty of friends who work for Starbucks, and all of them would define their job in just such a way, none of them actually claim to be a barista at Starbucks.

Sometimes arrogance is the best self-medication around, lol.

-bry
Cold brew is becoming more and more popular.
I want to start selling the cold brew units at our store.
I have yet to have this request but I want to be ready when it comes.
Joe



Taiya Jarva said:
I have something that just... floored me.
I am semi-newish to being a barista. I've had lots of training, but only a few weeks of experience. I know quite a bit about coffee, as before I got a job as a barista I had studied whatever I could find on the subject, but so help me god when a guy and his girlfriend came into our store and said "I'm going to have a hot cold brew." I did not know what they were talking about. I said "um.... a cold brew?" and he repeated " a HOT cold brew." Me and the cashier [who doesn't really know anything about coffee or making it] stared at him, unsure of what to say, until he let this marvel pass through his lips- "You ladies need to go to coffee school." WHAT?
I blew it off and said "actually, I'd love to go to barista school, if I could afford it." The girl he was with said "Is that a real thing?". I'm thinking, "YES! YOU JUST TOLD ME TO GO TO A SCHOOL THAT YOU DIDN'T EVEN KNOW EXISTED BUT I'M THE STUPID ONE?!"
anyways, we asked him what he would like, specifically, and he explained that he wanted about 4 oz. of cold brew topped off with hot water. Then he made me taste it.
WOW.
It blows me away that some people think they can speak so rudely to others. Frustrating.

Sometimes we can take for granted that coffee is a very broad subject, with seemingly-infinite variations. Your average customer knows just a little about coffee, probably with knowledge gained from only one or two shops. This can lead them to believe two things: that they now know a lot about coffee, and that what they've learned at their home shop is somehow universal. They'll be proud of this knowledge, too.

I think there are two things that we can do to smooth out these kinds of "make me a purple vanilla fizz" interactions.

The first is to understand standard drinks and common variations beyond your shop. Yes, barista training helps with that, but so does reading and participating in discussions here. A good foundation is really, really useful.

The second is to remember that they believe that they know what they are talking about, and assume that you should too. True or not, that's where they are coming from.

If you aren't sure what a customer means, tell them so in a way that demonstrates that you know what you are doing and keeps things moving in a productive direction. "Hmmm... not familiar with that one, but we can probably make it for you. Is it something you've had here before?". A quick glance at your menu while saying that communicates "we don't usually serve that here, pal... so forgive me if I don't immediately know what you're talking about". By asking questions you can steer the conversation in productive directions... putting the ball back in their court while you figure out what they're looking for. "If you'd like a special drink, I'm gonna need more information from you" is way different than "I don't know what you are looking for".

Not trying to excuse rude behavior on the part of customers... there's rarely a good reason for insults like that. Just wanted to share some thoughts on how to cut down on exchanges like that. Hope it helps.
These are great points, as always, thanks Brady. How we interact and get information from customers on "their drinks" are very important.



Brady said:
It blows me away that some people think they can speak so rudely to others. Frustrating.

Sometimes we can take for granted that coffee is a very broad subject, with seemingly-infinite variations. Your average customer knows just a little about coffee, probably with knowledge gained from only one or two shops. This can lead them to believe two things: that they now know a lot about coffee, and that what they've learned at their home shop is somehow universal. They'll be proud of this knowledge, too.

I think there are two things that we can do to smooth out these kinds of "make me a purple vanilla fizz" interactions.

The first is to understand standard drinks and common variations beyond your shop. Yes, barista training helps with that, but so does reading and participating in discussions here. A good foundation is really, really useful.

The second is to remember that they believe that they know what they are talking about, and assume that you should too. True or not, that's where they are coming from.

If you aren't sure what a customer means, tell them so in a way that demonstrates that you know what you are doing and keeps things moving in a productive direction. "Hmmm... not familiar with that one, but we can probably make it for you. Is it something you've had here before?". A quick glance at your menu while saying that communicates "we don't usually serve that here, pal... so forgive me if I don't immediately know what you're talking about". By asking questions you can steer the conversation in productive directions... putting the ball back in their court while you figure out what they're looking for. "If you'd like a special drink, I'm gonna need more information from you" is way different than "I don't know what you are looking for".

Not trying to excuse rude behavior on the part of customers... there's rarely a good reason for insults like that. Just wanted to share some thoughts on how to cut down on exchanges like that. Hope it helps.
I've had many a rude interaction with folks who've been drinking non-traditional coffee drinks bearing traditional names - the "caramel macchiato" is probably the best example, I think, and generally the most widely-known.

Best 2, off the top of my head:

1) Hot Tea "ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!" lady
Self-explanatory, I suppose. She'd come in a few days a week, order a hot tea, and INSIST that the cup be filled to the brim with scalding hot water. One day, she scolded me, furious. "I've been coming in here EVERY day for a WEEK now, and not one person remembers that I need my cup filled TO THE TOP." I calmly explained to her that we DID in fact remember her - but for safety reasons, we were always going to be a little hesitant to fill her cup that full. I told her that we knew she always got her tea in a paper cup, double-cupped, and then carried it up to the second floor to enjoy before heading out. But I also gently explained that we'd prefer not to burn ourselves OR our customers, and that filling the cup to the brim greatly increased the chances of boiling water spillage - especially if she was navigating the stairs (because she NEVER put a lid on her cup). She was not impressed. "Well, I paid for a 16oz cup of tea, and I want my money's worth." After pointing out that we offer free refills, and offering to fill the cup and pour it into a slightly larger one to ensure spill room, she informed me that "Starbucks always fills it to the very top with no problems" and huffed away. I've never seen her back in our store.

2) "I guess everyone has a different definition of a macchiato" guy
Self-explanatory, again. Kind of. I walked into a discussion regarding macchiatos up by the register - a young-ish gentleman was trying to coax the other barista into making him a "TRUE 16oz macchiato". He proceeded to ask us "how we do it here," to which Matt replied, "Er, well, we make them the traditional way. Making a 16oz macchiato would essentially just be espresso and about 14oz of foam." The young man continued to argue that the "place he always goes to back home makes him a 16oz, and it's traditional." I asked him, carefully, if he was talking about the Starbucks macchiato, which was more along the lines of a sweetened, foamy latte. Shocker - he got offended. He huffed, "Well, I guess everyone has their own definition then," and proceeded to order a Hot Cocoa, even after we offered to make him a drink as close to what he was looking for as possible. Not 5 minutes later, as Matt was collecting dirty dishes upstairs, the young man was overheard bashing our establishment to his friends, "This place sucks. They don't even know what a macchiato is."

I know that all of our baristas have had similar interactions, and for the most part, are familiar with the way that popular non-traditional drinks are made. Generally, we try our best to accommodate any request, while at the same time, educating our customers about the differences between what one place calls a drink, and what it is by definition. Most people are usually surprised and interested - they like the information, and while it might not stop them from ordering a syrupy sweet drink with a funny name, they genuinely like finding out how it's made and how it differs from shop to shop. That being said, we always have a handful of people who get offended and frustrated, even when we offer to make them the drink they're looking for.
"Could I get a large coffee, in my travel mug? Here, can you wash this for me real quick?"
Jennifer,
Ok, I think I understand the premise of this topic but how will or how can we use all this information in a creative fashion to educate our customers who come up with these often idiotic questions/comments to us. I believe most of us would not say much less think most of the comments we have seen here in this thread. I will keep my eyes pealed for your blog Jennifer. I'm sure something good can come of all this if we can get it out to the folks who need some coffee shop edeqite (sp) .
Joe
I'm so glad you asked :)

I'm going to take the comments for ideas for posts on my blog. I'm going to help educates consumers that way.



Joseph Robertson said:
Jennifer,
Ok, I think I understand the premise of this topic but how will or how can we use all this information in a creative fashion to educate our customers who come up with these often idiotic questions/comments to us. I believe most of us would not say much less think most of the comments we have seen here in this thread. I will keep my eyes pealed for your blog Jennifer. I'm sure something good can come of all this if we can get it out to the folks who need some coffee shop edeqite (sp) .
Joe
Ah yes, barista as the maid. A little rinse should do the trick.



Jason Dominy said:
"Could I get a large coffee, in my travel mug? Here, can you wash this for me real quick?"
I always offer to rinse out customers' travel mugs. Otherwise, my fabulous coffee will taste like s**t after being mixed with whatever is left in the bottom of the mug.
Also, the savings in not providing paper cups & lids helps.

Ron, the Country Guy

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