The human condition comes in a tall or a venti, it seems. After a few years of serving lattes in movie theaters and old-fashioned cafes I started seeing a different side to the mundane.
It’s not just bagging or grinding that inspires naval gazing, but sitting back with your hands folded in your lap and doing a tally of all the sometimes-funny, sometimes-frustrating questions brought to your attention during an average shift. Why do so few people seem to know what a cappuccino is? Why do so many expect a part-time employee to be omniscient? Is this the real life? Call it soul searching with a dollop of creamer.
Being a part-time or full-time barista may be a common job, but that still doesn’t put a dent in some of these questions! Thanks to these I can approach the vast world of coffee from multiple angles…and many of them humorous.
Here are just ten common questions customers had about the process nearly every time I was behind the counter:
1. Asking what a cappuccino is and whether or not it’s worth buying (get the latte)
2. Not-quite-asking if they can have an extra shot of espresso for free (nothing like the internal conflict of ‘I want to keep my job’ and ‘The customer is always right’ to have you shaking in your boots)
3. Asking if I remember their usual when I’ve only met them twice (I don’t!)
4. Asking for a very foamy latte that is still not a wet cappuccino (oh boy)
5. Asking about the difference between a caramel macchiato and a caramel latte (which I totally get, depending on the store it’s either the same exact thing or completely different)
6. Asking whether espresso shots or drip coffee has more caffeine (fun fact: it’s the latter!)
7. Asking me to redo their cappuccino (okay!)
8. Asking why soy milk costs more than regular milk (because we’re trying to make life difficult)
9. Asking me why I drink coffee if I can’t have caffeine (because decaf!)
10. Asking if I can make their drink before everyone else’s because they’re in a hurry, don’t worry, it’s a really simple order (first come, first serve, my guy)
11. Asking how latte art works and how it’s done (easily my favorite)
12. Asking if I can skip the ‘scraping’ method of mochas and caramel macchiatos and just stir the drink (I feel you)
13. Asking if they can have an extra shot of flavor for free (let’s not make this a thing, shall we?)
14. Asking if they can change their order once the drink’s done (let’s definitely not make this a thing, either)
15. Asking if they should get a latte or a cappuccino (get the latte)
One person’s venti dry cappuccino is another person’s five-shot Americano with three packets of sugar. Have you worked as a barista before? If so, what are some of the questions you’ve found yourself answering way more often than not?