One of my favorite things to hear in the shop from customers is the dreaded phrase "I'll just go to Starbucks." I get it all the time when a customer doesn't find what they're looking for or when we're out of a particular syrup/drink. It's like they think it's the biggest insult in the world. I wish I could just say "go to Starbucks...see if I care." Most of the time this happens just as I'm done cleaning the espresso machine. I have to explain to them that I cannot make their venti upside-down caramel macchiato and they hit me with the "you're making me go to Starbucks" line. Does this happen to anyone else?

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I always leave just one group open for those customers that come in 5 minutes before you close. Also the drip already gets tossed out about an hour before we close. I let them know that I can do a single drip coffee for them. Since I'm sure they wouldn't want coffee that's been sitting around for more than 2 hours.

Branden said:
I should have clarified, some days if it's super slow, we'll start closing up a little early. every now and then I'll clean the machine first but still leave the option for drip coffee or anything else that isn't espresso. I wrote this because I think it's funny when people try to insult you by mentioning starbucks. 99% of the time it's someone who doesn't really know the difference between good and bad coffee.
Branden, first let me say I wholeheartedly agree with Mike. If you are open, your espresso machine is not down. At the very least, you have left one group available. If you are truly a passionate and professional barista, then you will understand that this extends to having great customer service and genuinely caring about your shop, owner, and customers. After all, without all these things in place, none of it gets back to the farmers.

That being said, I have heard this line a number of times when some slothy suburban McMansionite came walking into our shop and couldn't find the green tea frappuccinos. There are two things to know about these types of people. 1) It's not the menu, the atmosphere or the prices. It's because you are not kissing their asses in Corporate Starbuckese. 2) They are incredibly insecure. Indeed the reason they go to Starbucks is because it is a brand they know they can get peer approval for.

Now you can just not care what these people think, and that's fine. But see if you can't turn it around. I've always made a sport of these types of customers and if I can't schmooze them over and having them wax poetic about how "fabulous" we are, then at the very least I kick them where it hurts. That's right, the whole insecurity thing.

Think of it like a breakup. If they reject you, tell them you are so relieved you didn't have to break up with them. If they tell you they are going to Starbucks, don't tell them "see if I care." That is defensive. Tell them instead "Oh good! I really think that is a much more suitable coffee shop for you!" with that little hint of "you don't know" in your voice. The idea that you know something they don't, or why your shop is so special will eat away at them. I guarantee they will be back. Unfortunately.

I'm only half way kidding. :-P
I Couldn't agree more, but sometimes, after working long shifts 6 days in a row, I can´t help but being an ordinary human-being ;-)



miKe mcKoffee aka Mike McGinness said:
Caramel macchiato=vanilla latte macchiato drizzled with caramel. The first time it was ordered I didn't even know what it was never being a Charbucks affianado myself. Discovered it's actually easy to make with ingredients most shops have on hand: vanilla syrup, milk, espresso, caramel sauce. Vanilla syrup in cup, steamed milk next leaving room for shot, shot pulled on top, finished with caramel sauce drizzle. I price it as a flavored latte with extra flavor. I don't know how much the taste difference is between vanilla latte topped with caramel (milk poured into espresso) versus espresso poured into milk (latte macchiato) and in truth usually make it as a vanilla latte topped with caramel sauce finish instead of vanilla latte machiato with caramel sauce.

Charbucks sizes had been a mystery to me for quite some time until deciphered their code. From Charbucks website:
Short: 8oz
Tall: 12oz
Grande: 16oz
Venti: 20oz

Give the customer what they want, making it the absolute best tasting whatever ordered they've ever had. Foo-foo drinks keep the doors open so the preponderance minority looking for traditional quality espresso beverages have somewhere to go.
Flavia Celidonio Pogliani said:
I Couldn't agree more, but sometimes, after working long shifts 6 days in a row, I can´t help but being an ordinary human-being ;-)

I couldn't agree more too. Try being a working owner working 60 to 70 hour weeks with a total of ONE day of so far this year! BTW, ordinary human beings don't work in coffee, at least not long term, only extraordinary. (or truly insane, but I've always felt sanity was highly over rated anyway:-)
I wish I did run the shop or I wouldn't close down anything until the doors were locked. I agree completely, but I don't run the show. I hate how the focus of this discussion got shifted to how our shop is ran, but I do understand what you guys are saying and I honestly agree. One day I plan on opening my own place, but until then I just have to do what the boss says even if I disagree.
Thinking about this a bit, this is really the kind of behavior I think we want to see in customers. They came in, something happened they didn't like, they tell you about it. If they don't come back, you know why the didn't. You can then decide if this should cause you to change something or not.

To J's point, sometimes its just the person. Sometimes, you are seeing the end result of one of your shop's process problems.

Are they pissed because you refused to make them a half-caf soy salted caramel mocha frappuccino, or was it the way in which you refused? Would they have tried your shop's legendary Omanhene Mocha over ice if you'd approached it differently?

The really funny thing is, you actually are telling them to go somewhere else by choosing not to serve them. No sympathy for your shop's owner here. This actually sounds like the shop that used to occupy the space we're in now.
how did you know about our Omanhene? hehe...but it's ignorant customer's mainly. I always try to talk to my customers and help them find an alternate to what they ask for if it is something ridiculous. I worked at a joe muggs for about 5 months (I just needed a job) so I'm used to the starbucks lingo and I know what most people are asking for. In the south, people are not very coffee savvy and only want what they are comfortable with. At least from what I've seen. And I might have made it sound like this happens everyday, but it's a rare occasion when we close up early and have the machine down. and most of the people are regulars who get the same thing every day, so when they can't get it from us, they turn to starbucks sadly.
don't talk smack about sbux here!...people get a little upset when you criticize those guys...but trust me, i DO feel your pain...just try to one-up sbux, by making a superior drink, or provide better customer service..to some people, its all about the $...Cash Rules Everything Around Me, C.R.E.A.M, get tha money...
dolla, dolla bills y'all.....
we have a sbux across the street. we had someone come in ask for a caramel whatchacallit and i said we dont have caramel. we feel like we want you to taste the coffee... :"TASTE THE COFFEE???!?!? that sounds disgusting!" walks out.

usually we just offer to make them something they will like on the house and if they dont like it they dont have to pay for it. 9 times in 10 they pay for it and come back tomorrow.

i guess it is how you offer the customer service/coffee education.
---
coffee rules everything mi amore C.R.E.M.A. gotta make the spro,, yo!
I don't work in a shop, but until I can get my own grinder I've been getting my coffee at Starbucks until yesterday. I went into the store that I've been getting it at and asked to get it ground for my espresso machine. But when I got home to pull a double I found that it was just ground fine enough for my drip machine. When I called back to complain their attitude was "so what". So that's how I feel about them "so what" I'll take my money and go somewhere else.
miKe mcKoffee aka Mike McGinness said:
Branden said:
I should have clarified, some days if it's super slow, we'll start closing up a little early. every now and then I'll clean the machine first but still leave the option for drip coffee or anything else that isn't espresso.

If it's your shop, cool. Not at my shop. I've caught my closers doing that in the past (downing espresso machine to clean before closing time has come) and they KNOW if they ever do it again I'll be looking for their replacement. I've had days where it's been slow in the late afternoon and then get hit with a rush of espresso beverages minutes before closing. Loosing a bunch of high margin sales that might have made the difference between marginal and good day at the register because wanting to get out early is not acceptable at my shop. It's hard enough to pay the bills, LIKE PAYROLL, without having sales needlessly curtailed. Espresso is the fastest to make, highest margin beverages at my (and I believe most) shops. The espresso machine is the life blood of the business.

I couldn't agree more. Branden's "see if I care" attitude is deplorable to me. My people are taught that the customer that comes in at 1 minute till close must never even know that it's closing time. Anything we do in preparation to close must be invisible to the customer. It's hard enough to stay in business amonst all the competitors we face. If your customers have become a burden, you won't have to suffer it for very long.

Mike had another bit of wisdom that I found particularly astute......
"Give the customer what they want, making it the absolute best tasting whatever ordered they've ever had. Foo-foo drinks keep the doors open so the preponderance minority looking for traditional quality espresso beverages have somewhere to go."

And another.....
"I'm a businessman, not a coffee martyr"
Support can be in the form of constructive feedback not simply tacit agreement...

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