If you rely on your morning coffee to be a decent member of society, you know just how incredibly important the keepers of caffeine (A.K.A. baristas) are. Here are a few reminders on how to treat them, and your fellow coffee shop patrons, with respect (even if you haven’t had your first cup yet).
Cropped shot of an attractive young woman placing an order at a coffee shop
Credit: Getty Images

With all due respect to those bastions of round, unfinished confectioneries, America doesn’t run on Dunkin’. It runs on caffeine—lots of it. Meaning that if you don’t have any friends and family in your life, there’s a decent chance you’ve written your local barista into your will. But will they write you into theirs?

That depends entirely upon what type of customer you are. We’re here to help, though! We just so happen to have a bevy of former baristas on staff with all sorts of horror stories from their days slinging beans. Here’s a list of handy tips to stay on your barista’s good side the next time you’re jonesing for some caffeine.

Know your order when you get to the counter.

As ‘Mericans, we start our days with coffee—to the tune of about 587 million cups a year, according to the National Coffee Association. Well, who gets that coffee started? The baristas. A lot of them get to work at around 5:30 am, or even earlier depending on the coffee shop. Because 587 millions cups… they’re going to be busy. So the last thing they want to deal with is a line full of people at the counter not knowing what they want to order. If you’re standing in line, don’t play on your phone—decide what you’re having so when it’s your turn at the counter the whole transaction can go seamlessly.

Know WHAT you’re ordering.

If you get mad at your barista because the cappuccino you ordered is mostly foam, you don’t deserve caffeine. Know what you’re ordering when you get to the counter. Light roast is the strongest roast, espresso drinks take longer to make, lattes are not the same as cappuccinos, etc. Have a general knowledge on what your barista is putting into your cup and you’re putting into your body, and everybody will be the better for it. You’re already slowly working your way into that will.

Try not to overcomplicate things.

Don’t be a jerk. “Can I get a grande hot Frappuccino, no whip, 2% milk, hold the syrup, 2 shots of espresso?” No, you cannot. That’s a latte. This kind of dovetails on tip numero dos, but don’t try to willfully muck up the works with your exorbitant requests. Yes, baristas are there to make you coffee, and make it the way you like it, and they’re generally happy to do so. Just don’t make it more difficult than it has to be.

For another fine example on not complicating things from one of our vegan staffers, “Don’t try to ‘veganize’ a drink when there’s a line. Know if almond or soy milk is available, and order accordingly. Do not ask the poor barista to check and see if the chocolate syrup or pumpkin spice base contains dairy. This is why everyone hates vegans.”

Practice courtesy in general.

What’s that golden rule again? Do unto others as you would have done unto you, right? Hum that mantra to yourself while walking into the coffee shop. If you’re getting coffee for the entire office, let single orders skip ahead of you. If you’re not using a charger, don’t hover over one of the few seats next to an outlet. Don’t bring your whole home library and a desktop computer with you so you can lord over a table meant for five. (Yes, this has actually happened in real life). If you see a friend, wait until after you’ve placed your order to chat—don’t stand at the counter forcing the barista to experience the awkwardness that is your conversation with the former coworker you haven’t seen for 2 years who’s putting the finishing touches on his six-years-in-the-making screenplay. You get it. Be considerate and your baristas will respond in kind.

Rememberbaristas are people, too.

If it’s not busy, by all means, chat up your barista. Ask them how their morning’s going, or ask them what their favorite drink is. They’ll be happy to provide recommendations/explanations and offer up any knowledge they have. They’re people, too, and they fulfill one of the most important job positions on the planet: Keeping your perpetually late/hung-over/non-morning person self caffeinated so you can get through your day and do it all over again tomorrow. So be nice.

By Matthew A. Moore and Matthew A. Moore