During the last seven months or so before I left for college (and a couple months into it too) I was a barista at a local coffee shop in both my hometown and college town. Of all the jobs food industry jobs that I’ve had (waitress, caterer, etc.) being a barista definitely holds the number one spot for being the most memorable.
This isn’t just because I still consider one of my crowning achievements mastering the skill of latte art, but because of the breed of customer that coffee houses seem to attract. I’m not entirely sure how interactive major coffee franchise workers are with their customers (from my experience of being a customer, not very) but in the two small town coffee shops where I worked; being interactive with our customers wasn’t a choice. They knew my name, my major, what year in school I was in, whether or not I had worked last Wednesday… Most everyone that came into the shop was friendly and the atmosphere day-to-day was family-like and normal. Every now and then however, a really memorable customer would come in.
Once, I had a woman whose order total came to a couple pennies short of $5. She handed me a $5 dollar bill and when I returned four pennies to her, she dropped them into my tip jar. “For your college fund,” she stated before picking up her latte and walking out. Another day, one of my co-workers was getting coffee and scones for an elderly man. When she handed everything to him he looked at us and said, “I’m not going to tip either of you because I fought in the war, and that’s enough of a tip.”
My friends used to love when I’d come home with a story or two about the bizarre, weird and downright mean customers I’d had to deal with that day. Here are some (true) stories found on various barista blogs, for your enjoyment. May your day be going better than theirs and remember— your barista is the gate keeper to your caffeine for the day… be good to them. If you aren’t, you might just wind up on a blog like this one where your story can be shared for us all to delight in. Here are some of my favorite barista stories.
Identity Gift – 3/23/2013
There is a man loudly reciting his credit card number, bank account number, phone number, and address over his cell phone.
Anyone want an identity?
The Fake Bill – 3/8/2015
Man enters with a $50 bill on his hand, grabs a water and hands me the bill.
I walk to the cash register and notice the man staring at all of the cameras.
I then look at this bill and see it’s poorly constructed.
“I can’t take this. It’s a fake.”
“No. You’re the one giving me a fake bill!”
“Why would I hand my customers fake bills?! And you cut the corners all weird on this one…I could’ve done a better job.”
I point at the corner and he mumbles “damn…”
Medium – 7/24/2013
“I’ll get a medium coffee”
He sees me grabbing the middle cup, I pour the coffee and hand it to him.
“Wait, that’s a medium? I asked for a MEDIUM.”
“There’s three cups and the one in the middle is the medium one.”
“So this is the medium one?”
Diva enters wearing several scarves.
“I want a coffee!”
“I want a regular sized (WHAT IS REGULAR?) ITALIAN LATTE. Not a FRENCH one. You know what I’m talking about.”
“No. I don’t.”
She stares at me and stays silent for 13 seconds and leaves.
Smelling The Beans
A 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.”
Man in a suit comes in and asks for a complicated drink….not that complicated, but just annoying for 8am. I make it anyway.
“That’ll be three dollars.”
Man checks his wallet for cash.
“Ugh. I have no money. I left it in the hotel.”
“Well, there is a 5 dollar minimum that I can overlook—”
“I’ll be back. I’m gonna go to the hotel to get the money. Can I come back?”
He grabs the drink. I grab it back.
“You can use your card for this one sir.”
He rushes out and walks straight into another coffee shop.
Russian Mafia looking man enters with a purpose.
“I NEED a croissant.”
“We have these butter croissants over here and they are gr—”
“You got any butter?”
“No butter to put on the croissants, but these ARE butter croissant and they just came out of the oven.”
“No Butter?! Sorry I need butter!”
He rushes out.
I whisper to myself as he walks away “…but these are butter croissants sir…”
Man with a dirty school bag enters and orders two double espressos from my co-worker. She barks the orders at me and I make it.
I call out the order; man walks to the counter, looks inside of both cups and is disappointed.
“I said I wanted milk in both of them.”
“Alright. I’ll just pour the milk in it for you.”
“THIS one with lots of milk and this one with a little bit of milk. ”
I top off the first one with milk and the second one I pour a little bit in.
“A little more—”
Milk goes in.
Milk goes in again…
Everyone in the store is now looking at this.”
“More milk! YOU GOT IT?”
I fill the cup with milk to the top and he touches both cups.
“That’s what happens when you add cold liquid to hot liquid!”
“Can you heat it up for me? They’re col—”
(He just didn’t want to pay the extra fifty cents to make it into a latte.)
“I know that. You wanted it with milk and now it’s cold. I’ll warm it up for you, next time order a latte. A latte is what you want.”
I steam the living s— out of his drink. I hand it to him.
“They’re really hot—”
Bad Bet – March 19, 2013
A woman just tried to pay with a casino card.
“Large coffee with skim milk…”
I pour the milk in and hand it to her.
“…This should be a medium.”
“What? I thought you wanted a large coffee.”
“Yes, but with medium milk. MEDIUM.”
“What is a MEDIUM MILK?!”
(You can’t just make up sayings and assume that your barista will know your secret milk sayings, alright?)
She grabs the carton of milk and pours it all the way to the top.
“See? Now THAT’S a medium milk.”
She puts the top on and the drink spills everywhere…
I don’t bother helping her clean her mess because… just because I CAN.
Lady wants a large coffee with cream and sugar. I hand it to her; she grabs it and holds
Lady: “Is it too late for me to change that into a small skim milk cappuccino?”
I look at the drink in her hand.
Have any funny barista stories yourself? Share them in the comments below!
Sky Andersen holds down the position of the writer for Coffee Wholesale and largely attributes her successes to binge drinking coffee. Currently studying Public Relations at Virginia Commonwealth University, she is passionate about all things writing, travel and photography.