How to Be Your Barista's Favorite Customer



With Holiday Season approaching, all those flavors and aromas are waking up what has been dead inside for some time now. It’s hard to avoid indulging in those tasty Starbucks treats without worrying about making a dent in your bank account or counting those calories. Below are some tips to stay on the staff’s good-side while getting your fill of those seasonal delights.

Ways To Save:

  • Specify that you’d like your drink filled to the brim. It is required by Starbucks law that each barista leave space at the top of the cup to avoid spills, or burns. Get a stopper (those little green sticks) and plug that hole until you can drink while you are still. If you don’t want to wait but you don’t want to get burnt, ask to get your drink made at a lower temp (140-150 degrees).
  • Light foam. If you are getting a hot drink, with steamed milk, ask for less foam. After about a minute or so, that foam will die and all of a sudden you only have about half a cup left. This also avoids over-steaming which produces A LOT of foam, making sure that you get your monies worth.
  • Light ice. Iced coffee blends are chilled. Iced teas are supposed to be shaken. There is NO NEED to fill that cup with ice unless that’s how you actually like it. Get more beverage by asking for light ice, or no ice. 
  • Put in your own milk or get it on the side. You can take several sips before adding in your own amount to your liking and increases the amount you get for your dollar. Also, this keeps your drink consistency and gives you control over what you’re getting because you know what you like! You can also ask for your milk on the side, so you can take it with you. However, if you ask for a lot, you will be charged at least fifty cents.
  • Hot water refills are free with your hot tea. Get one for the road!
  • Get a grande in a Venti cup! One of the BEST tips. You can maximize your beverage by getting it in the next size up, this can leave you more room for milk, or you can get extra whipped cream and toppings. This way you don’t lose any drink!
  • Cut them syrups in half. A Venti gets five or six pumps of any syrup or sauce. SIX! The sauces are denser, which will also cost you at least fifty-sixty cents extra when it’s not called for in the original recipe. If you get a drink that has multiple flavors like a peppermint mocha or a salted caramel mocha, you’re getting twice as much. A little goes a long way, friends. 
  • Coffee and Steamed Milk instead of a latte. This will save you $1-2+ on the daily. Get yourself a coffee of your roast preference with a steamed milk topper and add whatever flavor you like. If you really need a boost, add a shot of espresso. 
  • Cold Brew is from a concentrate that sits for at least 20 hours. If you want it stronger, ask for light water and ice.
  • FRAPPUCINOS—most of these things you can do for your blended drinks too. Get a Grande and put it in a Venti to make sure you get all that drink. Add a shot of espresso if you like it caffeine-heavy. Use almond/coconut milk to cut fat (***Coconut milk for your smoothies will help it all stay together rather than separating). You can still cut your syrups (or the base which is a heavy sugar blend used to keep it from separating) in order to make it more guilt-free. 

How To Get Your Barista To Care About Your Drink:

  • Be kind and patient. It is never their fault that you are running late and you need to hurry. It is also not their fault if the person in front of you doesn’t know what they want and has a lot of questions. The person taking your order is a person after all, and if you’re paying as much as you are for coffee (which they probably agree that it’s overpriced), they have control over putting it in the computer correctly.
  • Tip anything at all. It is made to seem that Starbucks employees are treated better than most, and yes, there are many benefits, but the hourly wage is pretty average so even leaving a few quarters adds up over the days. No one is working there expecting to live on tips alone, but it can make a difference. 
  • DO NOT POUR ANY OF YOUR DRINK INTO THE GARBAGE. This is awful. If you need room, ask for it. Pouring your drink into the garbage makes it more likely to leak, making for a very preventable mess. 
  • Clean up after yourself. I mean, this should be anywhere you eat—it’s not your own home, and these people aren’t your maids. That’s why the trash cans are accessible to you. If you make a mess, try and clean it up. If you spill something, tell someone. When you’re done with your drink, throw it out.
  • The "Secret Menu" is dumb. Baristas have the resources and occasionally the down time to experiment. The secret menu reflects the successes of those experiments. These recipes are not standard, and no one actually knows what they are. You aren’t an insider if you have researched this, and you aren’t special because you want a Cap’n Crunch Frappuccino. These are a pain in the ass, and if you order one without the recipe, they can’t make it and please don’t make them try anyway. Know specifically the pumps, the toppings, etc. and order it with any shred of dignity you have left. If you order something off the "secret menu" during a happy hour, don’t blame them for giving you a dirty look. Be quick, be thorough, and be patient while this hardworking human being prepares your high-maintenance drink.
  • Small orders are best. Please don’t be that person who comes and orders 5 plus drinks at once, especially in a drive-thru. I used to wish there was a maximum drink order because this holds up the line more than anything else. The only thing worse is ordering multiple frappucinos; if you do this, don’t be a jerk about how long it takes. 
  • DON’T be a creep. This is a big one. I don’t know what it is about baristas, but for some reason, they are some kind of mysterious, desirable wet dream for people. When I was a barista, I was stalked, followed on facebook, and hit on repeatedly no matter how often I said I was in a relationship. There is a fourth wall in food and beverage service, and that means there is a professional relationship. It’s not a friendship, and it’s certainly not romantic. They are people with their own lives. All you need to do is respect that.
  • Don’t tell them to smile. Of course in customer service, you are supposed to be personable, polite, seemingly happy to be making an hourly wage for an unfulfilling job, but we all got bad days. How is telling them to smile going to make their day better? This is not one of those "fake it ‘til you make it" techniques. It is condescending and patronizing. Ask them how their day is, or how they are doing.

General Starbucks Knowledge To Use As You Wish:

  • Peppermint Mocha drinks and Hot Apple Cider are available year round.
  • You can get a "kids" size of almost anything.
  • Light/Blond roast typically has more caffeine than any other roast, but Starbucks measures it out when brewing so they all have relatively the same amount of caffeine.
  • Generally, after about 3-4 shots of espresso, additional shots will be ineffective. If you want a super caffeinated fix, mix in a shot or two with iced coffee.
  • Iced Coffee is brewed at double strength.
  • Erythritol is the chemical sweetener in the refreshers. This used to cause me headaches and stomach problems. I had to stop all sugarfree drinks, which taste like chemicals anyway (because that’s what they are), so I would highly suggest sticking with the tasty stuff, but in moderation.
  • Common names for drinks
  1. Coffee with 1 shot of espresso: Red Eye
  2. Coffee with 2 shots of espresso: Black Eye
  3. Chai Latte with a shot of espresso: Dirty Chai
  4. Earl Grey Tea Latte: London Fog


Personal Recommdations:

  • Tall Soy Flat White with Toffee Nut
  • Iced Salted Caramel Mocha without the Mocha 
  • Caramel Macchiato sub Toffee Nut for Vanilla 
  • Green Tea Frappucino with Soy, no classic, whip cream opt.
  • Toffee Nut Cream Frappucino (tastes like butterbeer!)
  • Iced Green Tea, Peppermint Syrup, No classic

TBH, you can do most of these things at any coffee shop. Starbucks does a lot for its employees and gives back to the community. With that being said, I will always recommend favoring the little mom n' pop shops to help local businesses. Starbucks makes a good cup.