I owned a 24-hour coffee shop when I was 23. It was a wild adventure to say the least. Not only does owning a business teach you a lot about yourself, owning a coffee shop in particular teaches you a lot about your customers.
While we do end up feeling a connection with so many of you– there are some things we wish you knew:
1. Despite popular belief, baristas are not a replacement for therapy:
Standing behind that counter is practically the same as having a Ph.D in psychiatry. People trust their baristas with some of their deepest secrets. You develop friendships with some of your regulars. You get to know about their families, relationships, successes and failures. It’s really an honor to some extent, but you can cross the line. I had one person (who really wasn’t even one of my regulars) tell me about being molested as a child. How do you go from cream or sugar to that?! And how are we supposed to react?
2.) We probably don’t want to date you, but we will take your tips:
Just because we give you a smile with your latte doesn’t mean we’re ready to round second base with you. I can’t count how many customers hit on my baristas and me. And because caffeine addiction makes for a lot of regular customers– that means a lot of times baristas were put in awkward situations with unwanted advances. But, if you’re going to force your daily flirtation on us, at least put a dollar in the tip jar.
3.) I know you’re a poor college student, but…
If you’re at a locally-owned shop, chances are the owner isn’t loaded and the baristas aren’t making a lot of cash. It is poor form to buy a $1.50 coffee and take up a table studying and using wi-fi for 5 hours. At least buy a freaking muffin.
4.) Crafting a latte is an art form and therefore takes time:
It’s 8am. You’re tired. You’re not you without your caffeine, we get it. However, you can’t arrive during the morning rush, order a breve triple caramel macchiato with whip and not expect it to take a few minutes. If we don’t pull your espresso shot just the right way, it will taste badly bitter. If we don’t steam your milk correctly, you’ll have no foam (which in my opinion is the make or break for a good drink). Be patient and kind! We’re working as quickly as we can.
5.) Coffee ice cubes are hilarious:
You’re literally paying an upcharge for the old coffee we were going to throw out, but instead dumped into an ice tray.
BONUS: Here’s my pick for the best at-home espresso machine!
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After much research, the Gaggia Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine is what I chose for my own home. It puts out coffee shop-quality shots, froths the milk well, and it’s affordable. Check back, and subscribe to my email list, as I will be writing a full review on this machine and plan to offer a tutorial in the near future.