Out of curiosity , In your shops respectively, what are some customer requests that you absolutely cannot/ will not comply with?

Do you make a 20 oz caramel breve with whip?

Do you pull a long shot?

Do you make a 200?

do you Ice the espresso or serve it to go?

Which rules are yours personally , which ones are store policy?

I've got a few of these myself but I would really like to hear from some others.

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"Can I get my espresso to go?" ahhhhhhhh, why??
This is tricky. I drink my espresso within about 20s of it's being pulled. Most of my customers do as well, but occasionally someone orders an espresso and sips on it for half an hour. I may casually mention to them when i find the opportunity that it's best drank quickly, but ultimately it's their prerogative. I won't force them to drink it fast. People do the same thing with capps.
When facing the "espresso to go" conundrum, i remind myself that if we're talking about pace of drinking (which is the only reason why i can figure that someone would want their espresso to go) it's kind of a "to each their own" sort of issue.
Therefore, i will offer to let someone take a ceramic with them and return it later. Even if they refuse, it's opened the doorway to the conversation that we need to have. They may get it in a 4oz. paper cup today, but eventually they will be mine.



Artemis Cafe' said:
"Can I get my espresso to go?" ahhhhhhhh, why??
Ricky Sutton said:
Therefore, i will offer to let someone take a ceramic with them and return it later. Even if they refuse, it's opened the doorway to the conversation that we need to have. They may get it in a 4oz. paper cup today, but eventually they will be mine.

Awhile ago we bought a few sleeves of 4oz compostable paper cups for sampling. We keep a short stack on the counter. When someone orders an espresso to go, we'll ask if they're sure they want it to go, we'll tell them that the crema dissipates in about a minute and that the temperature decreases rapidly once the crema is gone, both of which adversely affect taste, so they won't be getting the best espresso experience we can offer. If they still want it to go, we produce the lid-less 4oz cup and tell them this is what it's served in. 99% of the time they'll have it for here. No ghetto lattes in this joint.

But as this thread is about how low you will go... we try to be flexible, but we have a now-legendary drink request that we will not accommodate.

Older woman comes in, asks some questions about the acidity levels in the coffees we offer on the brew bar. Says she doesn't like press pots that her regular shop serves and notes that we're one of the only places where she's ever seen a brew bar. So we're thinking, 'Hey, this is great, we've got a knowledgeable coffee consumer we can convert from a competitor. We're ready to impress."

She proceeds to order a really nice Guatemala brewed on a Clever. So far so good. The barista brings the cup to the counter talking about the tasting notes, ready to ring her up and send her to coffee nirvana.

Then it happens.

She asks for a bigger cup. And can we put two inches of hot water on top. And then fill the cup with steamed skim milk for a watered down au lait.

We're ready to argue this but before we can, she produces a $10 gift card that she proudly proclaims she received for Mother's Day. So we did it. At a premium so she could not do it more than twice.

There are two ways of looking at this. One is that we serve the drink, make a new customer who then tells their friends that we make the best watered-down non-fat au lait cup of Guatemala in the area. And we take her money.

The other is that this customer clearly doesn't like the taste of a good coffee on its own and is extremely high maintenance. That it's a one-off drink with a lot of variables and that it would be all but impossible to ensure consistency from barista to barista - and it certainly wasn't a drink worth systematizing. It's not worth getting into an argument that "Well the other barista did it this way, please make it over" for a drink that takes about five minutes to prepare. Not to mention the staff would find the experience demoralizing as they're particularly proud of our brew bar.

So when the gift card was emptied, we politely told her that we made the first two out of courtesy because of the gift card, but we would not be making it again in the future using the brew bar. She was welcome to have the house drip from an airpot for that drink, but we would not be custom brewing for it. She didn't think we were very accommodating. And that's OK with us.
Rich, did that customer tip you for all the effort you put into her watered down skim au lait? I've noticed that a lot of high-maintenance customers tend to be skimpy on the tips.
No.
Ouch.
Iced Capps. Also, we 86'd 20 ounce cups.
Recently had a customer order a hot chocolate (made-to-order with Guittard chocolate chunks and steamed milk). After she paid, she asked for a 2nd paper cup so she could "add milk and make her son a lukewarm drink". Told her she couldn't have a 2nd paper cup, but I'd give her a ceramic mug (read: smaller cup). She got really angry and started acting like a complete jerk and threatened to sue me if her son burned himself on the hot chocolate. After she got the ceramic mug, she proceeded to empty all the remaining whole milk from the condiment station into the mug and then complained that she needed more. I offered to "top off" the mug with milk for her rather than having her wait until I could refill the carafe. This really ticked her off so she started calling me a racist. She has since launched a smear campaign against me/my store on the internet and within the town we are located.

So, even though I'm pretty sure she got what she wanted (a 2nd drink made with free milk from the condiment station), I'm apparently a racist. Any suggestions on how I could have handled it differently/better? Aside from throwing her out...I can only imagine the sh!tstorm that would have ensued had I done that!
what about when a customer asks for an americano with steamed soy? Isn't that basically a latte?
Gigi said:
Recently had a customer order a hot chocolate (made-to-order with Guittard chocolate chunks and steamed milk). After she paid, she asked for a 2nd paper cup so she could "add milk and make her son a lukewarm drink". Told her she couldn't have a 2nd paper cup, but I'd give her a ceramic mug (read: smaller cup). She got really angry and started acting like a complete jerk and threatened to sue me if her son burned himself on the hot chocolate. After she got the ceramic mug, she proceeded to empty all the remaining whole milk from the condiment station into the mug and then complained that she needed more. I offered to "top off" the mug with milk for her rather than having her wait until I could refill the carafe. This really ticked her off so she started calling me a racist. She has since launched a smear campaign against me/my store on the internet and within the town we are located.

So, even though I'm pretty sure she got what she wanted (a 2nd drink made with free milk from the condiment station), I'm apparently a racist. Any suggestions on how I could have handled it differently/better? Aside from throwing her out...I can only imagine the sh!tstorm that would have ensued had I done that!

"If your intention is to beat the system, you might want to go somewhere else as we aren't a shop that says yes to every request just to avoid confrontation. When we feel like we are being taken advantage of, we speak up."

Simple, direct and to the point.

As far as how to handle the smear campaign, call a local reporter and have them run your side of the story. Give a background of how requests for additional cups/condiments etc add up to a lot of money at the end of the year. Local reporters eat this kind of heated exchange up, and as long as you present yourself in a professional manner throughout the whole process (which I believe you have/did) then you'll come out looking like a business owner trying to make ends meet, and she'll look like a jerk.

-bry
Not barista related. Recently made the mistake of saying yes to a request that in hind sight should have been a "no we don't have experience in this area and it's against our core value of coffee as culinary". Specficially roasting 5lb of white coffee for them. I won't do it again. Times are tough and a buck is a buck, but I still won't do it again.

Another extremely tough one roasting wise stems from a shop that was about to close it's doors we recently acquired. It's an ex-Coffee People location. About 1/3 of it's whole bean and beverage sales was and is Black Tiger, a very high Robusta content very dark Northern Italian style blend developed by the extinct Coffee People, currently roasted by Deidrich in Idaho and distributed via a company in California. Which meant it arrived 2 to 5 months post roast, with a Best if used By 6 month date. I replaced it with a blend I developed. Problem is while it's being accepted by the customer base I and we can't stand the stuff anymore than the old Black Tiger. I forced myself to really work on the blend to replicate Black Tiger including pulling AND tasting shots of it! But I don't even enjoy roasting the crap, the smell almost makes me retch, and I love roasting.

It's going to be a tough one phasing out a product that's a high percentage of your Gross Revenue at a location. We can't afford to take that step yet.
with the exception of an iced capp, i rarely say no to anyone. HOWEVER, if you are going to come into my shop and request something rediculous, you are going to pay for it. For instance the woman standing at my counter right now who wants a decaf latte made with half soy and half rice milk. She got charged for an extra shot of espresso and both soy and rice. She didn't blink an eye so I assume I'm not the only one to have done that to her, tehehe

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