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Home / Articles / Food / Food Writing /  Barista Bites Back
food-espresso
Caff-In: Longing for caffeine nirvana? Follow these simple rules.
Enrique Limón

Barista Bites Back

Welcome to Coffee Etiquette 101

May 14, 2013, 12:00 am

We all have our favorite café to frequent, and some of us even call Starbucks a café (gross). But in our frenzied morning caffeine rush, it can be easy to forget that the equally bleary-eyed person behind the counter is the only thing standing between us and decaffeinated hell. So, in order to make this process less painful for everyone, I’m offering a few tips—based on my own experience—for becoming that customer the barista actually likes. If things seem a bit skewed, just remember: I’m the one dealing with you before you’ve had your coffee.

How do I order?
It’s OK to have questions, but try not to make it seem like you’re a know-it-all (or prove you’re an idiot). Some FAQs to avoid: How many ounces do you pull for a double? What’s the difference between a 12-ounce and a 16-ounce? How dark is your dark roast?

In what order should I, um...order?
First, don’t take more than 45 seconds to make up your mind. One Republic definitely wasn’t talking about ordering a beverage when they wrote “Stop and Stare.” Second, state the drink size and type in quick succession: “Small latte, please.” (Saying please wins you points, unless you’re doing it facetiously.) Third, issue any other specifications (type of milk, number of shots, decaf, etc.). Finally, indicate if you are staying or going: “For here, please.”

*Personal pet peeve: When you can make a sentence out of your order (“Small, single, half-caff, skinny, dry cappuccino with a half-pump of vanilla”), it just makes it seem like you have some type of control disorder.

What does it all mean?
Macchiato: A double espresso with a dollop of foam on top, served in a 2-ounce demitasse (the fancy, tiny cup you coddle with your pinky out)—not a 20-ounce latte with flavored syrups. If your barista seems to be interrogating you like you’ve got glassy eyes at a checkpoint, relax! Coffee terminology is endangered and quite varying. We’re just trying to get you what you want.

Regular coffee: The term “regular” is antiquated (although, considering Santa Fe’s average age, maybe not). Just say “small coffee”—or, if you want a mug, “Coffee for here.”

Cappuccino: Ordering a cappuccino and wanting a latte? Fuck that. It takes extra effort to make a cappuccino, and it doesn’t feel good to see it wasted. A traditional capp is equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk. If you find yourself asking for more milk, you want a latte. The term “dry” refers to a capp that is essentially one-third espresso and two-thirds foamed milk—no steamed milk there. Please note that the potential for miscommunication grows with the length of the staggered serpent formed by backed-up drink tickets.

Can I stare?
Good coffee, like many good things, takes time. Radiating waves of impatient intensity does not, and never will, expedite the completion of your drink. I’d much rather focus on making your drink than contend with your beaming gaze. Easy, Cyclops, your coffee will come.

Can I pour coffee in the garbage can if I want a little more room?
In fifth grade, I received the “Foot in the Mouth” award. I used to think I spoke without thought until I realized that I just don’t give a damn—there is indeed forethought, but it’s followed by “I’m just going to say it.” Pouring coffee in the trashcan is analogous: The voice inside says you shouldn’t do it, but you proceed because you don’t care. But it also melts the liner, and if you think garbage juice is bad, you’ve yet to experience all the garbage plus the juice. Ask politely for an employee to pour some out for you.

If I order a latte, can I refill it with coffee?
This I deem leech-like. A latte and coffee are two different drinks. When you refill your latte cup with coffee, you’re imposing a self-implemented twofer deal. I’ve heard some argue that a latte costs more than coffee, so you should be able to refill with coffee at no charge. That’s no argument at all. The cost for the coffee remains unaccounted for.

Can I multitask?
Your place is jamming, and you bump into a friend in line or receive a call. Naturally, you launch into a category-four chat storm! Eventually, you end up having to correct your order several times. It’s not multitasking if you’re failing terribly, so do your barista (and the person in line behind you) a favor and put the convo on pause for the 10 seconds it takes to order.

Want extra credit? Follow these simple steps:
1. Leave a tip: It’s not expected, but it’s definitely welcomed.
2. Be patient, and show appreciation.
3. Don’t be insulted by this article—it’s not really that serious.

 

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