Baristas Spill the Beans: Horror Stories from Starbucks and Beyond -


Baristas Spill the Beans: Horror Stories from Starbucks and Beyond


What goes on behind the scenes in your favorite coffee shop? It’s not always smooth jazz and great tips for the people who work behind the counter — here are some horror stories and pet peeves from baristas that may make you shudder.

Barista gets burned.

Two years ago in San Diego, a Starbucks barista helped out a homeless man who asked for a cup of hot water — but when he tried to grab a few condiments, the barista told him they were only for paying customers, under store policy. He got angry and threw the water in her face. The barista had to be taken to the hospital and treated for second-degree burns.

Faking product returns.

Return fraud is an issue at many retail stores, but did you know customers tried it at coffee shops too? One woman brazenly pulled a couple of coffee presses off the shelf at a Bath, Ohio Starbucks, and then attempted to return her “purchases” for cash. The barista didn’t buy it, and reported her attempted fraud to police. She was issued a summons.

Customer causes hygiene concern.

You know those honey bear squeeze bottles that customers can use to sweeten their tea? One customer took it to the next level by not only sweetening his drink with the bear, but licking the rest of the honey off the bear’s lid. “I walked over, grabbed my violated honey bear, looked the customer in the eyes, and dropped the bear straight into the trash in front of him,” wrote the barista on Reddit.

Gravity-defying drinks.

In another Reddit horror story, one unreasonable customer demanded ice in her drink — but requested that the ice not float to the top.

Smelling the beans.

Another customer refused to pay for her coffee until she could “smell the beans.” She then declared that it didn’t smell like coffee, and got far too personal with the roast by sticking her hand right in the coffee hopper to grab a handful of coffee beans. The employees had to throw her original drink out — along with the five pounds of coffee she had touched. She stormed out, saying “I didn’t want coffee anyway.”

On top of these horror stories, baristas have a lot of pet peeves relating to regular customers — are you guilty of any of these faux pas?

Talking on your cell phone while placing your order.

If you want your barista to get your drink order right, make sure that you’re giving her your full attention while ordering — and that means putting your phone away for the 20 seconds it takes to tell her what you want.

Camping out for hours after you place an order.

While most coffee shops welcome customers to sit and use their wireless internet, make sure that you’re not abusing the system: If you haven’t ordered another drink in the four hours you’ve been taking up a table, your barista may be giving you dirty looks.

Taking a sip of a drink without confirming that it’s yours.

Most baristas will either call out your name or the name of your order when your drink is ready. Don’t blindly grab a drink and take a sip, assuming that it’s yours — if it isn’t, the barista will need to make that order again and keep other customers waiting.

Using Starbucks terminology when you’re not at Starbucks.

Starbucks has its own lingo, and most other coffee shops don’t use the same terms: So if you want to ask for a caramel macchiato, make sure it’s on the menu.

Not tipping.

While baristas don’t rely on tips to the extent that restaurant servers do, they rarely make much more than minimum wage so tips can go a long way towards helping them pay the bills. If you want to visit a coffee shop regularly and guarantee that you’ll receive good service, a dollar in the tip jar can make that happen.

Expecting a freebie if you’ve met the barista before.

At plenty of coffee shops, baristas don’t even get their own drinks for free — so don’t expect a barista buddy to give you your latte pro bono.

Not bussing your table.

Coffee shops don’t usually offer table service — so that means, once you’ve finished your drink or snack, it’s your job to pick up after yourself. Leaving a few crumbs on the table isn’t a big deal, but if there is a bussing station, there is no excuse for leaving your used plates, cup, and dirty napkins lying around.

Arriving just before closing time.

At any food-based establishment, it’s a pain when customers show up just a few minutes before closing, as most items have been put away and equipment has been cleaned at that point. If you must come in that late, make sure to take your order to go.

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