Some Tips to Coffee Shop Patrons

People wonder why baristas so frequently come off haughty, snotty and holier than thou. Well, we have reason, and it’s a perfectly human one: people are careless and inconsiderate, and we get tired of it. So, here are some tips to coffee shop patrons so you can prevent your barista from reacting poorly!

1. Do not come to my coffee shop to break up. I promise not to come to your Olive Garden or wherever you work to spread my personal life all over you and everyone else in the vicinity. It’s inappropriate. Everyone around you knows what is going on and it makes them uncomfortable. Also, it’s just a dick move in general. Go to a public place where no one can make a scene. Did you think about the consequences here? What happens when they must hold onto you forever and nothing you say will make them accept that you’re over this “relationship”? Awkward. Uncomfortable. You don’t even want to have to sit through it. Please remember, you have been reaping the benefits of the coupling for however many months. We haven’t all been getting laid with this person, just you. It’s the price you pay. Forcing others to pay interest on your loan is not fair. Do it at home kids.

2. A. No PDA. I don’t care how in love you are. Unless you’re a returning soldier seeing his wife for the first time since being deployed, keep it PG. And if you are a returning soldier, why are you at a coffee shop? Let me make it for free, thank you so very much for serving our country. Otherwise, I don’t care how old you are, if you kiss in front of the counter, or are dangling on each other while ordering, you’re an idiot. The only PDA that is appropriate is cute old couples holding hands while they order. And then the old man has to carry both of their coffees over to the table where they drink them black and read the morning paper together. This goes down as adorable.

B. In the line of relationships, do not come with your mistress to my coffee shop. This happens so much more often than one would think and it’s really inappropriate. Skip the frozen coffee drinks and go straight to the sleazy hotel room you’re going to later. It’s just disgusting. She’s wearing six-inch heels at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon and her skirt is short and tight. YOU PICKED A WINNER. You’re cuddling in the corner. This breaks rule 2A. Don’t take her out in public. Someone you know might see you and rat to your wife who is probably a saint. On the other hand someone in general might see you, which is just as bad. To reiterate: keep your sleaze in private please.

3. Real quick: let’s look at the exits. And the trash cans. See them? They’re kind of hard to miss because you have to walk past them to leave. Put your paper cups in the trashcans. Put your glasses and mugs in the dispenser above the trashcan. I promise every time I see you leave a cup, or mug, or even a napkin on your abandoned table, I openly wish a flat tire on you. In a rainstorm. Scratch. Thunderstorm. Really. Today, someone left a plate on my laptop, which was sitting on the far end of the counter. WHAT? In what universe does my Mac look like an appropriate place to set your plate? You couldn’t set your plate next to my computer on the counter? You, sir, I openly denounce as a good person, and very much wish that every time you try to eat a strawberry for the rest of your life, you find it moldy after the first bite. And get food poisoning from the mold.

Now, to counter this, I will say some people think they are helping when they hand me a cup or mug. ‘It saves her a trip,’ they think. However, I have to make that trip anyways because everyone else can’t follow the rules… so why can’t you? Thanks.

4. Finally, for Jesus’ Christ’s sake, tip. Not only are you tipping us for the beautiful, skinny, hazelnut latte with an extra shot we just made you, but you’re also tipping us because we made all those beautiful desserts in the display. You’re tipping us because we don’t “pool” tips and closers have a significantly less volume of customers than openers. Closers, however – we run the shop. And you, college student, expect us to be a safe haven on study nights. We love to be that haven. And we understand, you don’t have an endless budget for coffee. Your change will do. Before you sat down, who made sure your table was wiped down? Not you, and don’t get us wrong, we wouldn’t dream of expecting you to do that. And that’s fine, it’s our job. But, we don’t make boocoos of money either. We make just above minimum wage. Tip us. Dear Business Man, I know you come down here from the office building every night and order a sweet tea. I purposefully leave the tea out so you can get as many refills as you want. Tip me. Dear Christian College Girl, I just politely waited while you asked for a “crazy” drink. “I know this is crazy, but can I just have a mocha with mint latte?” Girl, you are insane! And so original! You want a mint mocha?! I don’t know if I’m capable of fulfilling your order. See, I didn’t say that to you. You should tip me for my patience. Dear Kind-of-Creepy-Old-Guy, you just talked for ten minutes about a robber who fell through a sun light and got caught. I listened. Tip.

Anyway you cut it, you should tip, ESPECIALLY if you paid in cash. Then you have no excuse. Dropping your 75 cents in adds up. So do it. If you’re a regular, we know you tip. We know to cut your drink to the front of the line, because we can count on you. So, sweet little Christian college girl… you never tip, and so: your drink can wait. TC mark

image – Petteri Sulonen


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  • YO

    (halo announcer voice): FIRSTING SPREEEE

    • azi

      tied for first!

    • ohai

      I admire your hovering capabilities, sir.

      • YO

        thanks, but I rly got to thank my staff…
        I recently outsourced my hovering duties to a cadre of ~30 north korean 20somethings.
        they speak perfect english, of course, but this site is still utterly incomprehensible.
        after work is over, and they collect their $.25 salary, they go around picking up babes by using sexy foreign words like “barrista”.
        it's the first “buzzbuck farming” operation in existence.

  • Guest666

    holy shit…no, HOLY SHIT…
    i'm not sure if you wrote this to counter the stereotypes(it doesn't), but you sound like you suck and i wish i knew where you worked so i could do all of these things just to spite you. seriously, just like the internet: COFFEE, SRS BUSINESS.
    there is NEVER any reason to be 'haughty, snotty, and holier than though'. dude, it's fucking customer service…C'MON…

  • Gino

    I don't disagree that it's rude for people not to clean up after them selves, and I do think it's insane someone would leave their plate on top your laptop; But why would you leave your laptop on top of the counter in the open anyway?

    • Jnason

      exactly – why is the computer on the counter when she's supposed to be working?

  • Sarah

    You lost me at the last one. You get paid above minimum wage, so you really don't deserve tips. Wiping tables and making special drinks to nervous customers isn't going above and beyond. It's YOUR JOB.

    • Juliejc5

      You don't get it.

      • Sarah

        What do you mean?

  • sjd

    75 cents adds up… out of my pocket 2x/day, 6days/wk- ok, out of those six, maybe one of those days i'll only get a coffee once. Lets see, that's give or take, $7. you poured my medium black dark roast- i'm not drunk and obnoxious, so you're not getting a tip as would a bar tender- and you're miserable. maybe if i couldn't feel your hatred, i'd tip more often- i want to feel the burn.

    • sally

      really why would i have to tip on a black coffee? they just dump that shit into a cup.

  • A Customer

    How about you shut up and make me coffee?

  • dude

    you sound like a bitcharoonie doonie.

  • terrified

    I hope I never accidentally step into your coffeeshop.

  • Bill

    i have to tip you to do your job? give me a break. your article was good until i read the last part. if you're upset with the money you make, get a different fucking job.

    • P. H. Madore

      Better solution. The owner of that coffee shop and all competing coffeeshops just raises the prices, bans tipping, and pays them a higher wage.

      Oh wait, then you'd have another thing to say.

    • Jody Fossler

      there are no other jobs, Bill. and no one should have to work for what passes as a minimum wage today. the least your entitled ass can do for our making your high maintenance-ass beverage is tip.

      • blazingparakeet

        Entitled? You think customers should pay baristas more for doing the job they voluntarily signed up for and HE’S entitled?

  • Nicole

    So to recap, you want extra money for doing the most basic parts of your job and for not being rude to your customers? I do hope your first world problems improve.

  • Zonks

    Boocoos. I like you Ashley Parsons.

  • P. H. Madore

    I would gladly pay twice the rate for my coffee if there were an express lane for straight shooters who really only want a cup of coffee. I think every place billing itself as a coffeeshop should have such a line.

    I always tip anyway, can count guiltily on my hands the time I didn't, was unable to, or whatever. So for anyone looking to open a coffeeshop or with say at a coffeeshop: the coffee drinkers of the world are really, really tired of standing behind the people who want to direct your little symphony. It's not that we have anything against them with their adulterated psychotic once-weekly variations on coffee, it's just that it takes so fucking long compared to what I'm about to order (especially if the fucking condiments are on the table for me to add myself!). I feel harassed by the time I get to the counter to order. I feel like I made a mistake.

    This isn't always true. I just think it would be a nice way to discriminate and you could do way more business. If people know they can just drop in off the street and grab their coffee from the express counter, the long line of people after your other deliciousness left in the dust, I think they'd be happy about this, and would increase the number of people buying regular coffee. You make the price $2.01 for a regular coffee and seriously everybody wins.

    Just saying.

    Good article, though. Good thoughts.

  • rushel


  • Scarlett

    I thought the bitchiness was because you're paid minimum wage after getting a liberal arts degree and didn't really have an exit plan for that one.

    You know the snottiness is inversely proportional to the amount people who actually do tip tip, right?

    • P. H. Madore

      She's 19 and probably lives in Auburn. You should be nicer to her and/or take some pity on her. I mean — Alabama.

  • jessucka

    i'm sorry, no. i used to be a waitress and i still hate all of the people who demand that you must tip. what ever happened to being NICE to people without the expectation of something material in return? ugh.

  • Rachel Butters Scotch

    The only one I can truly agree with without any issue is the first (Don't Break Up In Public). You could have made an entire article about that instead, and it would have been scores more interesting than the same bitchy tirade I've heard a multitude of times. A good writer doesn't rely on cliches, and the “so tired of this, making coffee is HARD :(:(” Barista is one that is relatable to some, yes, but way overplayed.

  • wackomet

    I feel like a similar kind of article could (and probably should) be written for any job that involves dealing with customers.

    Good shit!

    • ATALLO

      Couldn't agree more. I work in the banking industry and I deal with the public all day. You know what's funny about that? PEOPLE. HATE. BANKS.

      You really could write this about ANY job that deals with the public firsthand.

  • COFFEElover

    I worked in Starbucks for a year and, honestly, I can barely relate to this. Yeah, everyone's experience is different but, seriously, this just comes off bitter and not even in a funny-attractive way… But yaaai, free coffee for baristas!! I <3 COFFEE

  • Felicity

    You're PAID to do your job. So quit whining about tips. They're an extra – a gratituity. If your customer feels like you DESERVE a tip, like you've gone beyond the call of your paid work, then they will tip you.

    • Sas Jam

      You're forgetting that baristas are expected to treat you just as well if not better than most restaurants. Since coffee shops are designated “hang out” locations, people stay there for long hours and have even shorter patience, all of which are accommodated. You won't see any “scrubs” hanging out at an Olive Garden (or any Mom n' Pops locales) lounging around on free water with their feet up on the table. You can be a good bit douche-y and the waitstaff/baristas will treat you like there's nothing wrong with you.

      That deserves at least 10 cents.

      Also, this is America. Yes, you're paid to do your job, but it's bullshit pay. Other countries pay their employees enough to not bitch about such things.

      • paperjamfree

        maybe the bad feelings can be directed at employers rather than the customers?

  • Robin Willis

    Breaking up in public… yeah with ya but…

    Can we stop with the “barrista” thang… it's just Italian for “coffee machine button pusher.” And what the hell is wrong with a public display of affection… ok full open mouth snogging is probably uncomfortable and a little unsanitary but it seems to me we all could use a little more visible affection.

    Let me tell ya… I live in Spain and if I gave the equivalent of a 75 cents tip for a “solo” or a “cortado” that here cost between 75 cents and 1.20 to a “real barrista”… who is also required to mop up, make bocadillos, flip grilled cheese sandwiches, pour endless chupitos for the lonely retired guy who spends all day at the end of the bar and squeeze orange they would chase me down the street to give it back to me thinking that you had forgotten your change.

    And if it was my bar and you were playing favorites… you'd be out of there in a heart beat. Harrumph.

  • tobethegreatest

    spent two year as a barista from Burbank to downtown then the tendernob of SF, surprisingly the tips were the best closest to the TL. working at a beloved neighborhood spot helps, but being that quasi-strange cafe girl that can also make a dry capp that you could rest a coin on the foam, helps no matter where you are.

  • tobethegreatest

    PS: the trick is to be too cool at first then quickly shift as if you think the customer is in on it with you. Bond over how awkward you both felt and how silly it is to feel that way and how glad you both are to know that neither was judging the other, then complement them on the first hideous thing that catches your eye (Regina George style) and proceed to steam their milk as they drop $5 (yes, seriously a $5 bill in the tip “jar” which is a mailbox chained to the counter.. this is the TL after all and tip jars are notorious fare for grab and run bandits) … then as you hand them their drink hopefully you manage to remember their name (which = repeat customer) and as they walk up to grab it you must reference some part of the ordering conversation… this will lead them to believe you had a moment, that your infatuation levels might just be equal… and there you have it .. you've created a regular; the person who's drink you've already prepped by the time they make their way to the front of the line, the person who knows your shifts and asks about you when you switch them up, the person you'd probably report to the police for a restraining order if it weren't for those damn tips!


    I completely understand what Ashley is saying here and now I kind of understand why some barristas have shitty attitudes. As in my reply to @wackomet, you could write this about any good ol' J.O.B. that deals directly with the public.

    One of my closest friends is a barrista and I work in a bank. We used to meet at a bar a couple times a week after work (he worked from like 6a to 4p or some ungodly schedule like that) and share war stories about customers that would bring their weird shit into our respective places of business. I sat there in my stuffy shirt and tie, and he in his cool t shirt and tattoos and we just chatted away.

    Ashley would be surprised to know just how similar those jobs are and yet not the same at all. It's all about dealing with the public. As far as tips go, I can't really make any excuse for people who refuse to tip. That is just bad manners. Maybe its because of my barrista friend but I ALWAYS tip. Even if I just throw a couple quarters in the cup or jar I feel like I have at least made an attempt.

    Final summation: When you get a job where you have to deal with the public (whether it be making a really specific drink and then having someone not tip you for it, or selling checking accounts and then explaing to someone how THEY overdrew said checking account 6 months later) you get what signed up for.

    Good luck out there.

  • Rachel

    A mint mocha?! Girl, you cray-cray!

    • ryan chang

      hey, way cray-cray

  • Diana Z.

    I work at a “gourmet sandwich” place, and some guy and his girlfriend wanted to order the lamb in cilantro pesto sandwich. With no cilantro on one of the halves. When I told him that the cilantro had already been prepared with the lamb, he started asking me to pick the cilantro out of just one half. I stood, staring at him for a few seconds until his girlfriend told him that she didn't mind the cilantro. He looked at me as if I was being the difficult one. People can be douches.
    BUT tipping 75 cents for a cup of coffee? Even if it's one of those special drinks, 75c is a lot.

    • Dan

      OH my god, I love customer service horror stories like that one. I can so relate to you on this type of shit being a cashier for a million years.

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