During college, I started my two-year employment at a local Starbucks coffeehouse. Like any job, there were ups and downs, but overall, I still consider it a pretty decent first job. Would I do it again? Never in a million years. From being treated like dirt to constantly smelling of coffee, I’ve seen far too much and hung up my apron for good.
However, I learned a few secrets during my time as a barista, and as I’ve never been good at keeping secrets, I think it’s time you found out what Starbucks’ employees really get up to behind the counter, what they really think about their customers, and whether or not all those scandalous stories are real…
Spelling Your Name Wrong
There’s a huge thing that goes around the internet and social media every few months about Starbucks employees not being able to spell our customers’ names correctly. Although they may seem like simple mistakes, when we’re having a busy morning, the last thing we care about is the correct spelling of “Kate”, or “Cate”, or “Cait”.
When you’re in a rush, names just become sounds and we’ll write them phonetically. For example, “Sophia” will become “sofea”. Some managers also encourage misspellings, as we know people are likely to share the mistake – and therefore, the brand – on social media.
Also, We Know You Hate Giving Your Name
We get it; it’s awkward and perhaps a little too personal for the guy making your coffee. So just make one up if you’re uncomfortable – we won’t care. But don’t act smug when you think you’ve come up with a genius fake name because we’ve heard them all before.
A particular favorite of mine was the guy who claimed his name was “Voldemort” (it happens more often then you’d think), and all the other baristas know to write on the cup, “He who must not be named”.
The Worst Kind Of Customer
You know the people I’m talking about; The guys that order one espresso, sit down with their laptop and stay there for the rest of the day working on their next “screenplay”.
You’re not the next Shakespeare buddy, and nobody is impressed by your need for free wifi.
Don’t Assume We’re Failures
It’s very easy for customers at Starbucks to treat the baristas like dirt. I’ve been called stupid, retarded, and one guy even said I’m the reason with need free choice with abortions.
The truth is, like many employees, I was studying at college during my time at Starbucks, and for a little while after I graduated. I’m not stupid, I’m human – remember that the next time your barista spills your coffee and you shake your head, rather than ask if they’re okay.
Your Drink Order Will Determine If We Like You Or Not
Like any place, we have our regulars that order the same thing day-in-and-day-out. Baristas will love them or hate them based almost entirely on what they order.
“No-Foam” Dave, such a good guy. But what about “Decaf Soy Latte With An Extra Shot And Cream” Susan? She’s a douche.
Know What You Want
Do you understand how many people just come to counter and ask for “a coffee”. It’s kinda like going into McDonald’s and asking for “a burger”. And although we’re very happy to answer questions, if you’re acting like a Starbucks aficionado, they at least know HOW to order your drink. For example: If you don’t tell us if you want your drink hot or iced first, we won’t write it down on the right cup. We only ask so we can make your drink as quickly as possible.
Remember the elements in this order: Hot or iced; size of drink; decaf?; number of shots; syrup?-how much?; type of milk; any extras?
The Sizing Guide
At Starbucks they are called Short, Tall, Grande, and Venti – not Small, Medium and Large. Sure, it’s annoying, and they don’t really make sense, but your barista didn’t make them up, so don’t lecture them about it.
Just get over yourself and call them that so we can avoid all confusion.
The Vicious Weight Gain
Employees at Starbucks do get a discount on food and drinks out of shift hours, but when we’re on the clock, anything goes.
It’s against the rules, but we will often graze on cakes, cookies and pastries, and then wash it down with five cups of coffee, all of which have a different syrup in. We could go for the protein plates – but where’s the fun in that?
The Store Temperature
When you complain to me about the temperature in the store, you may as well leave the store, jump in a cab, go to the nearest phone box, call your mom and complain to her about it, because she’s got as much power as I do to change it.
Starbucks HQ sets upper and lower temperature limits, and store staff don’t have much leeway. Just bring another jumper if you’re too cold.
Okay, if you get your coffee from a busy, inner-city Starbucks, then the chances are your croissant was freshly baked that morning.
But you’re visiting us in a remote location, the chances are that croissant you’ve ordered will have been defrosted that morning.
The Disgusting Public
When you serve hundreds of people a day, there’s a good chance you’re going to stumble across some orders that make you want to vomit. Seriously, those people have TEN pumps of syrup in their coffee may think they’re being unique and trendy, but they’re really just idiots.
On one occasion a customer ordered a venti whole milk caramel frappuccino with extra caramel, but ask for no whipped cream because it’s fattening. Sure… because that cream will kill you.
Summer At Starbucks
Until you’ve experienced the sheer hell of a Frappuccino rush, then you’ll never know true pain. And don’t get us started on the asshole who invented double blended drinks.
Blending takes TIME, mixing up the Frappuccino base takes TIME, and the dealing with customers complaining about TIME takes TIME!!. Oh, and most stores only have two blenders, so please be patient.
The Colored Aprons
The colors of the aprons determine so much more than you might realize. The green apron means you work at Starbucks. The red apron means you work at Starbucks and it’s the holidays.
The black apron? Well, this means you’ve dedicated years of your life to studying coffee. It means you’ve attended special seminars and training courses, and are a true Coffee Master. We bow down to the black aprons.
The Secret Menu
Well… there isn’t one, officially.
Some stores will run secret promotions where customers can get a trial beverage or free drink if they say the right things, but most of the time, those crazy coffee inventions you see on social media just come from bored employees experimenting.
You Want Sugar?
If I had a dime for the number of times I’ve been asked to put sugar in people’s coffee, I could probably buy Starbucks.
Seriously, the sugar packets are over there, put your own damn sugar in!
To help pass the time and keep us entertained, the staff would often play games or have competitions behind the counter.
Whether it’s seeing who could make the stiffest foam, or seeing how many times you could fit the word “pump” into one order, we’d pretty much do anything to make the shift go quicker.
The Toilet Hell
I don’t know what it is about public toilets that makes people suddenly forget how to take a piss.
I saw some horrifying things during my time at Starbucks, including walking into the restrooms to find human sh*t smeared all over the cubicle walls. Still, they tipped us a whole dollar…
Being The Chalkboard Artist Rules
Getting an opportunity to be creative is probably the greatest part of working at Starbucks (apart from the free caffeine).
When the manager asks who wants to design the chalkboard, the employees all secretly want it to be them. Seriously, what could be better than getting to drawing the Christmas board?
The Starbucks Fanatics
From jewelry to tattoos, there are some pretty die-hard fans of coffee, especially when it comes to Starbucks!
I’ve seen the same customer order the same thing three times a day, and I’ve had a customer curse at me and punch the counter because he couldn’t have a pumpkin spiced latte in March.
What To Do In Case Of A Robbery
Robberies happen, and every employee is instructed on how to deal with it. The most important thing is don’t be a hero, and don’t stall.
Just hand over the money, get them out of there. Once they’ve left, then you can call the cops. Starbucks is a billion-dollar company, and whatever’s in the tip
Whether or not I’ve spat in a customer’s drink is probably the most common question I get asked by friends. I personally have never done it, nor have I seen anybody spit in a customer’s drink.
Although, that doesn’t mean it’s never happened elsewhere, so don’t be rude for the fun of it…
Just Be Nice
Seriously, the customer is not always right and manners will go a long way. If a slow elderly customer comes in, says hello and politely ask us questions, we’ll do more for them compared to the impatient rude businessman who can’t be bothered to pause his phone conversation to say “please” and “thank you”.
Polite customers can get away with anything! We’ll bend over backward to help them, and sometimes give them free shots or snacks.
Never Get Burnt By Your Coffee Again
It’s no secret that Starbucks drinks are served piping hot as a rule. However, anyone who has ever grabbed their coffee too quickly for a sip will know how painful burning their tongue can be.
But there’s a trick to avoid this that’s well-known among us baristas – ordering at “kids’ temperature”. This means you’ll be served a drink at 140 degrees as opposed to one between 200 and 212 degrees.
The Black Apron
It’s a well-known fact that Starbucks employees wear green aprons, however, every so often, you will see a barista in a black one, and this is what it means.
It means they’re a certified “coffee master” – a status which can only be achieved by going to more of Starbucks’ seminars and lectures than other employees. In short, they’re the person you want to be making your coffee.
The Starbucks App
When you’re on a diet, knowing what’s in your food is of the utmost importance, and many Starbucks products are crammed full of the bad stuff.
So, if you want to know exactly what it is before you order, get the Starbucks app and never again make an uninformed coffee decision!
Decaf Coffee Isn’t Always Decaf
Whether it’s because real coffee makes them a little too jittery or another reason, a lot of people opt for decaf instead. Unfortunately, however, they rarely get it at Starbucks.
We baristas are very busy people, and because the vast majority of customers order caffeinated drinks, when someone orders decaf, they’re often given caffeinated coffee anyway. Sorry! It’s just our automatic reaction.
How To Get The Strongest Coffee
Everyone has gone into a coffee shop at least once in search of the strongest thing on the menu, and in Starbucks, it’s not a triple expresso. Instead, you should do this to get a stronger coffee.
If you’re more of a mug full type of persona and have a taxing day ahead of you, simply ask for your coffee to be made with the brew used in iced coffees. It’s automatically stronger as it’s usually diluted by ice.
Decaf For Rude People
When it’s early in the morning and you’ve not had your first coffee of the day, you can be rude to people. We get it. But you should always be nice to your barista or this could happen.
Since we baristas can’t be rude back to customers who’re less than pleasant to us, we take revenge in a much subtler way – by giving them decaf coffee instead of the beans they so desperately need.
The Food Isn’t Fresh
While we’d all like to think the food we purchase from places like Starbucks is fresh and cooked on-site, the reality is, it’s not.
All of the food in Starbucks is frozen for longevity then defrosted to be sold. So yeah, you might want to go to an actual bakery for your morning croissant.
Don’t Dump Your Coffee In The Trash
As much as it can be tempting, for the love of God, don’t dump your coffee cup that’s still got coffee in it in the trash. Us poor baristas have enough to deal with as it is.
No one wants to end their day getting soaked by coffee dregs mixed with trash just because you were too lazy to finish your drink, or at least have the decency to empty the cup before putting it in the trash.