The Coffee Problem

Today I went out to a mall and ordered a cup of normal coffee. As I walked away with my small black coffee, I heard a woman order a no-foam non-fat decaf extra-hot latte. I think there might have been one more requirement but I can’t remember it. This underscores the fact that I’m way too stupid to get work as a barrista.

Why the fuck do people have such perfectionist needs when it comes to coffee?! What the hell is wrong with these people?? Why do they feel so entitled to reel off a string of   detailed instructions for a cup of coffee, that another human being has to then prepare TO THE LETTER?!?

I would be mortified to appear this fussy about anything. Why aren’t these coffee prima donnas embarrassed?

My own theory is that they didn’t get enough of Mommy’s attentive pampering so now they’re going to take it out on some helpless coffee server who can’t spank them or send them to their room.

Let’s hear your theory.

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72 Responses to The Coffee Problem

  1. Jade Carver says:

    fashion westie – if you ask for ‘coffee’, no matter where you’re asking you’re always going to get a confused look. If you’re ordering something simple that’s great, but you need to specify whether you’re wanting a black coffee or coffee with milk. My first job was as a barista and I’m working at a coffee boutique now, and there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ coffee. Some people drink short blacks, some people drink long blacks, some people have milk. You pretty much always need to specify.

    The best/worst ‘why bother’ I ever heard: half-shot decaf soy latte with honey. Yep.

    Also, the whole ‘no-foam latte’ thing is a total mystery to me. Maybe it’s different in Australia, but the only difference between a latte and a flat white is the amount of foam on the milk. If you don’t want foam order a damn flat white! It staggers me how many people don’t know anything about how their coffee is made. I find myself explaining to people ‘what’ a cappucino is (because they’re asking for a good ‘cappucino-type coffee’, and I ask them how strong and they say ‘normal’… facepalm) AND what decaf coffee is on a weekly basis. I dunno if I have an edge because I’m a barista or if people are just plain stupid…

    For the record I have a major sweet tooth, so I’ll occasionally have flavoured syrups in my coffee, and I drink soy milk out of necessity. But none of this no-foam half-shot shite.

  2. Aja says:

    I have to say, I do enjoy an earl grey latte from starbucks. But I do find when I order it, half the time the baristas look both puzzled and annoyed. Not my fault darlings, your company invented it 🙂

  3. Aja says:

    PS- My friend just got a part time job at Starbucks. And I quote “worse decision of my life”.

  4. Elaine says:

    Can I add to the ridiculous tea options there are now?
    This illustrates it perfectly.

  5. Bevitron says:

    Reading all that makes me so glad I’m not a bean drinker – gives me horrible heartburn. Those trick coffee drinks do have some amusement value, though.

    I’m strictly iced tea. With about twelve sugars. Southern style. A friend says, “Why don’t you just pour an inch of Karo syrup in the glass first?” Really, though, it’s amazing how difficult it is to find a really excellent, fresh-tasting glass of iced tea out there. It usually tastes like it was prepared in an unwashed coffee urn.

  6. Rach says:

    Rosee: Oh man, this world is small. Elixir is in Nedlands, behind Chelsea Pizza Co. My friend Sarah owns Mrs. S.

  7. Susana C says:

    Obviously you’re all overly caffeinated allowing this non foam latte lady press your rant buttons. Let the woman order however the hell Starbucks conditioned her too. Go about your business. Don’t roll your eyes when you come across someone paying for what they want. Isn’t that the premise behind this country. I’ll bet my full shot, 1/2 decaf extra foam non fat rice milk gigantore mochaccino cinnamon iced latte that you’re all guilty of some shit people roll their eyes at.

  8. hammiesays says:

    Jade: Flat white was invented in Melbourne. It only just arrived in Ireland and basically people are treating it like the Second Coming.

    I don’t have to support any coffee shops any more – I got a NESPRESSO! (cue diatribe about evils of Nestle and baby formula world wide)

    am going off to make another Cafe Lungo which costs me 40 cents in my own kitchen, in the nude if I want to.

  9. ha ha, I guess if it was a Starbucks kind of place it’s because they give you all these options so it turns you into a fusspot. That said, I’m sick of ordering coffee in cafes that’s cold by the time I’ve stirred my sugar (hmm, I take three sugars, maybe that’s why it takes so long. Whoops.). So I’ve started to *gulp* request it ‘extra hot’. Eeek does that make me a wanker? Help, I don’t want them to spit in my drink 🙁

  10. liz says:

    I think a lot of these long strings of coffee requirements sound a lot harder than they actually are….a “no-foam non-fat decaf extra-hot latte” just means she wants a hot decaf coffee with skim milk. Being lactose intolerant, I sometimes sound insane too, but idk, i mean, if I’m going to starbucks, and paying almsot $6 for a drink…I’m going to get it the way I want it.

  11. I have no idea because I’m a good to go black coffee kind of gal and like Hammie I’ve got a Nespresso too – we’ve turned into nerds about it!

  12. Nat says:

    I don’t ask for too much specification because I have anxiety issues, and I would get worried that they will mess up the order. Sometimes it’s slow, and the barista suggests adding certain syrups or whatever–which is nice.

    I feel bad for employees when companies add new complicated items to their menus. Like McCafe and Wendy’s with all their new variations of the Frosty. I’m sure they get the same kind of demanding customers as Starbucks.

  13. Suspended says:

    Coffee for people who hate the taste of coffee but love paying $4 for some weak aroma.

  14. Jade Carver says:

    Susana C: *to

    Also I’m assuming by ‘this country’ you mean America. If you’d actually read the comments, you’d see that a lot of commenters, including myself, do not live there.

    None of us are claiming we are perfect, and we are allowed to rant about whatever we want. Especially Sister Wolf since her rants are fun as hell to read 🙂

    Hammiesays: please explain! Flat white invented in Melbourne whaaaa? *stalks Wikipedia*

  15. thedelicatemink says:

    I am a coffee idiot and I love Flat Whites.

  16. Desiree says:

    A waitress once made me an “espresso” using instant from a can. Wonder what the arseholes would have have of that – I nearly sprayed it across the cafe when I took a sip!

  17. kate says:

    ii don’t know, maybe san francisco is just cool about this shit. when i go into a starbucks i order a large coffee, and the barrista turns around, pours coffee into a cup and hands it to me. in and out, baby.
    sometimes they ask me if i need room for cream. but i haven’t run into too many idiots who need me to clarify what i mean by large.

  18. candy says:

    very good subject SW as always

  19. candy says:

    you are a very intelligent woman, loved this and so true!

    “My own theory is that they didn’t get enough of Mommy’s attentive pampering so now they’re going to take it out on some helpless coffee server who can’t spank them or send them to their room”

  20. Nephew Wolf says:

    The people you describe are surely perfectionists about something, but they’re not perfectionists about coffee. If they were, they would be ordering drinks that allow them to taste the stuff. And their perfectionism would have to take the form of writing snarky Yelp reviews after the fact, or something, because these drinks don’t really lend themselves to persnickety specifications when ordering: “Espresso, please.” “Cup of the Maravilla for here.”

    I think that a far more interesting phenomenon shows itself right here in the comments of this post: the functioning adult who is intimidated by Starbucks. I’m really not sure how it’s possible that people who are reasonably intelligent and in touch with the world in which they live can feel socially anxious about the prospect of walking into a branch of a restaurant chain that is as omnipresent as McDonalds and has a considerably smaller menu. Are there cultural pockets out there where Starbucks somehow never lost the boutique-y image it had when it began its big push beyond Seattle twenty years ago?

  21. Tricia says:

    Hammie and Make Do – I’m jealous!! My mom’s got a Nespresso and it’s amazing, I want one.
    And if anyone is ever on Q & 17th Streets in DC with a hangover go to Java House and order the espresso milkshake.

  22. Erudite Opinions says:

    These people are lost in the paraphernalia of a culture-less modern life and are uninformed about coffee or food and they don’t care.

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