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 had people saying to me 'my cappucino/cafe latte is not hot enough.'

Perhaps they are reffering to cafe au lait?
Come to think of it.. all though making coffee and speaking with the enthusiastic home barista lot is one of the most rewarding aspects of working in coffee there's always a few rotten apples among them.

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. Once there was this annoying bloke who made it quite clear that we know nothing about coffee and we had no passion since we were not using the Weiss distribution method. I just nodded my shoulders and asked him to tell more about this amazing whiis-thingie. Some persons have also pointed out my tamping habits (no knocking or grooming) to be awfully wrong and a sign of my lack of passion and interest.

Some people do seem to have this strange logic in their head that people working as a barista cannot be very interested in their coffee. I suppose the "trained ape" and mistake searching have some kind of self-serving function.
"can you make it like what I get at the gas station....something like a hazelnut irish cream cappuccino?"
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 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.
Generally I think our lattes are pretty good, but an elderly woman caught us at a high traffic time and had a bad experience. Then next day she congratulated us on making the worst latte she'd ever had. Caught me off guard with the congratulations bit. We gave her a complimentary drink after that. Haven't seen her back. Oh, well, I tried.

Bryan Wray said:
"Oh... hold on a sec." (*answers phone in the middle of ordering*)

-bry
Jennifer Vaaler said:
Chris,
I certainly think a cappuccino and macchiato should be what it is.

What you think it is? What the Italians think it is? What Starbucks' Marketing Department thinks it is? What I think it is, or and average of the three best shops in Tucson think it is?
That's the problem. No one want to admit that they aren't really sure, or that they took their cues from the Green Monster, or that they just tried to figure it out on their own, and absolutely NO ONE is willing to change their mind, regardless of what you show them that differs from their menu.

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.

Quite a bit of that is coming from the fact that a lot of us can absolutely do it. Granted, you sound like you've been accosted by some self-aggrandizing jerks, but I'm willing to go head to head with most any barista. Most of the ones that show up here will take me out, but that's really a very small percentage of all the available baristi. 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. If you can do as well as I can in your shop, you're doing a really great job. If you can make a better drink than mine at your shop, you will get heaps of praise, gifties and tips, and a fair chunk of my available income!
There are too many shops and baristi that just don't give a damn, or know any better, or care enough to find out any better that we're always keeping an eye on the barista to see if they've got a clue.
Ignore the tin-hat home barista crowd. If they give you too much crud, ask them to step behind the counter and teach you. Most of 'em will only do it once, and the one that does come back more'n once will be showing you things that are handy to know...

Remember, just because it's at my house doesn't mean that my kit doesn't include a 14 liter boiler HX that burns 220V and requires three friends to lift, and a matched pairof Mazzer Majors! ; >
And I can take out eighty percent of the world's baristi with a hand grinder, a propane stove, and a Mypressi Twist. ; >
Personally, I think they should be the traditional version from which they were created- 6oz. of equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foam. It's a cultural thing for me. Although, if everyone agreed on the same method, obviously NOT the bux way, then customers might just become educated correctly.


Chris said:
Jennifer Vaaler said:
Chris,
I certainly think a cappuccino and macchiato should be what it is.

What you think it is? What the Italians think it is? What Starbucks' Marketing Department thinks it is? What I think it is, or and average of the three best shops in Tucson think it is?
That's the problem. No one want to admit that they aren't really sure, or that they took their cues from the Green Monster, or that they just tried to figure it out on their own, and absolutely NO ONE is willing to change their mind, regardless of what you show them that differs from their menu.

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.

Quite a bit of that is coming from the fact that a lot of us can absolutely do it. Granted, you sound like you've been accosted by some self-aggrandizing jerks, but I'm willing to go head to head with most any barista. Most of the ones that show up here will take me out, but that's really a very small percentage of all the available baristi. 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. If you can do as well as I can in your shop, you're doing a really great job. If you can make a better drink than mine at your shop, you will get heaps of praise, gifties and tips, and a fair chunk of my available income!
There are too many shops and baristi that just don't give a damn, or know any better, or care enough to find out any better that we're always keeping an eye on the barista to see if they've got a clue.
Ignore the tin-hat home barista crowd. If they give you too much crud, ask them to step behind the counter and teach you. Most of 'em will only do it once, and the one that does come back more'n once will be showing you things that are handy to know...

Remember, just because it's at my house doesn't mean that my kit doesn't include a 14 liter boiler HX that burns 220V and requires three friends to lift, and a matched pairof Mazzer Majors! ; >
And I can take out eighty percent of the world's baristi with a hand grinder, a propane stove, and a Mypressi Twist. ; >
aaaactually, a latte does have foam. not as much as a cap, but still there's foam. how else would we do latte art? :-)

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.
Chris said:
Jennifer Vaaler said:
Chris,
I certainly think a cappuccino and macchiato should be what it is.

What you think it is? What the Italians think it is? What Starbucks' Marketing Department thinks it is? What I think it is, or and average of the three best shops in Tucson think it is?
That's the problem. No one want to admit that they aren't really sure, or that they took their cues from the Green Monster, or that they just tried to figure it out on their own, and absolutely NO ONE is willing to change their mind, regardless of what you show them that differs from their menu.

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.

Quite a bit of that is coming from the fact that a lot of us can absolutely do it. Granted, you sound like you've been accosted by some self-aggrandizing jerks, but I'm willing to go head to head with most any barista. Most of the ones that show up here will take me out, but that's really a very small percentage of all the available baristi. 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. If you can do as well as I can in your shop, you're doing a really great job. If you can make a better drink than mine at your shop, you will get heaps of praise, gifties and tips, and a fair chunk of my available income!
There are too many shops and baristi that just don't give a damn, or know any better, or care enough to find out any better that we're always keeping an eye on the barista to see if they've got a clue.
Ignore the tin-hat home barista crowd. If they give you too much crud, ask them to step behind the counter and teach you. Most of 'em will only do it once, and the one that does come back more'n once will be showing you things that are handy to know...

Remember, just because it's at my house doesn't mean that my kit doesn't include a 14 liter boiler HX that burns 220V and requires three friends to lift, and a matched pairof Mazzer Majors! ; >
And I can take out eighty percent of the world's baristi with a hand grinder, a propane stove, and a Mypressi Twist. ; >

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.

No matter what someone's home performance might be, any competent barista is still on his/her own league. Besides comparing your home results to the coffee you get from commercial settings is a wee bit unfair: maximum performance can not be compared with average performance. It's the consistency divided by time requirements and the volume that are separating a true barista from home wonder.

And to set things straight: I'm not hating home baristas or their equipment here. Heck.. I'm one myself six days a week. It's the elitist 'I AM CONSIDERABLY MORE SUPERIOR THAN YA' attitude thats irritating me.
I would have to say that other than the daily macchiato disaster, two of the worst I've had recently were:
A younger guy, 20's maybe, sitting at a table about 5 feet from the counter yelling some type of order at me as I walked by with my hands full of dishes. I informed him that it is an order from the counter type of place, he stood up, took two steps and ordered a "latte with an extra pump" "extra pump of what?" I asked, and then tried to explain that if he wanted flavor I could add extra. "an extra pump of the stuff you put in it" was his reply. I made him a single latte and pointed him to the condiment counter...I really didn't know what else to do at that point.
the best of the best for me though...possibly in my career, happened a couple of days ago when a small child (5 maybe 6years old) pretty much did a chin-up to see over the counter and ordered a rice krispy treat and a macchiato. His mother informed him that we probably don't have those, and asked me what would be similar. I told her I could do a caramel latte and she said sure, but not to make it too hot, I then asked if it should be decaf and she said "no, give him the good stuff" I realize that the gourmet coffee drinking crowd has gotten younger but honestly? that kid is either going to have a caffeine related heart defect or be a future world barista champion...as soon as he can reach over the counter.
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.
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