The Five Worst Customers: Lament of a Barista


To preface this, I must say- I love my job. I really enjoy the people I work with, the atmosphere of the shops I work at, the feels, smells, and tastes of coffee. However, there is one thing I find most disagreeable: the customers. Customer service is, overall, a fairly difficult job in regards to one’s personal temperament. It may not be the most mentally challenging job in the world, but if you can smile at the next person in line when you have a million dishes to do and ten thousand drinks piling up for your coworker to make, then you are awesome at your job! That being said- here are the five worst customers at a coffee shop.

Numero Uno: The Parrot

So, you’ve just finished making the sixth drink in a row. And you, as the good barista you are, call out the drink so the Patient Customer is able to pick up their drink at the end of the bar. However, the Parrot looks up from their phone (for the sixth time in a row) and quips, “IS THIS MINE?!” NO IT IS NOT YOURS. Do you not remember what you ordered? Do you need a cracker to satiate your anxious, basic white girl yearnings as I make your white chocolate mocha with extra whip cream??

Numero Dos: The Stuck-Up

“Good morning! How are…”

“Um, yeah, so like can I just get a small, double shot cappuccino with no foam, skim milk, extra hot, with caramel and chocolate drizzle. Oh and before you’re able to get my wrong order written down, can I please order another complicated frozen drink and like five different food items? Gratuity is included in the price right?” First of all, skinny soccer mom with bratty two year old in tow, you can’t get a cappuccino with NO FOAM because that’s what makes a cappuccino! I don’t know if you’re talking about some kind of gas-station drink- actually, I don’t care. Secondly, I am a person, not a robot-super-coffee-making-autonomous-gadget. So please say hello before you rush out the door and into your Nissan Quest.

Numero Tres: The Drain-Plug (line stopper)

It’s really busy today, and you’re trying to be as polite and patient with each customer while keeping a good flow so you don’t overwhelm your coworker. But this guy- THIS GUY- who has had about ten minutes to decide what he wants steps up to the plate and has no idea it’s his turn to swing. When “Hello, what can I get started for you?” is greeted with a blank stare and an open mouth, you know your entire rhythm has just jumped off a bridge. He then proceeds to stand there, silent. It isn’t until you’ve explained what’s in about five drinks- and offered to make then hot, iced, or blended- that he decides to get a drip coffee. And not tip you.

Numero Quatro: The Starbucks Lover

One of my least favorite things is when people come in and order using Starbucks jargon- because this is not Starbucks. This is actually a good coffee shop, and our sizes are small, medium, and large. If you prefer, 12 oz, 16 oz, and 20 oz works as well. Also, we do not serve the caramel macchiato. It’s not even a macchiato. Who are you. Get out.

Along those same lines, Cup-Grabbers are also the worst. I know the cups are within your reach, but please, let me do my job. If you don’t know what “this size” is, then maybe you shouldn’t be touching the cup.

Numero Cinco: The Assumer

I work for a licensed chain with four stores. I work at all four stores, but each employee has a store that they primarily work at. Sometimes, a customer will come in to one of our stores and expect that whomever is working will automatically know their drink because they “come in all the time”- to one of our stores. Dear person- we have 35 employees. Please do not assume that you are super-duper special and that we will know your drink by your face. Lots of people come in everyday. Lots of people order small vanilla lattes. You’re not as cool as you think.

After all of the above customers have come in, at the end of the day, there is always a shining beacon of hope. This person is super sweet, knows what they want, orders correctly, and leaves you a hefty two dollar tip. I pray that these customers will pave the way for all customers, and that someday, all customers will order equally.