I worked a few months at an extremely busy Starbucks at a prime location frequented by hoardes of tourists on a daily basis. We were a very international team- but we had a very multiethnic and multinational clientele as well and we had to be able to communicate. Sometimes though, the problem is not just language barriers. I came up with a list of the 12 types of customers baristas at Starbucks love to hate:
12 The Pointers
They can read but refuse to. They prefer to just point at the food on the display cabinet to purposely confuse you.
11 The ‘normal size’ drinkers
I have observed this to be an almost exclusively German thing. Starbucks doesn’t sell a ‘normal size’ and we wouldn’t know what ‘normal’ is as we sell roughly the same amount of Tall and Grande hot drinks. You’ll know it wasn’t the first time we got this order when we answer with a sardonic smile, ‘What’s normal to you?‘
10 They Who Want Coffee
These people start and finish their order with ‘I want a coffee’, probably expecting you to have a background in sociology that you can decode what they want just by studying their presence. Chances are, they don’t just mean black drip coffee.
9 Those who customise their orders by the bar, instead of at the counter.
This type is cumbersome when you are manning a busy bar. Oh, you wanted lactose-free milk? Why didn’t you say that before I finished your order? It’s fine. I will just smile, spill this drink and redo your order.
8 Those with complicated orders that mention everything except the size.
Congratulations, you have successfully annoyed your barista and might have to exert more effort in repeating it.
7 Ice, Ice, Baby
‘This is hot. I wanted my drink iced.’
No you didn’t. I’m sure because I took your order and you watched me write it and your name on a paper cup. But as usual, I will smile and we will redo it for you, and by the third cup I spill for the day, I’ll be indifferent to food waste.
6 The Impatient One
This customer has time to wait in line but suddenly runs out of time when they get to the counter. They will tell you to speed it up because they are in a rush and that they have a tour that’s about to depart. Guess what? We don’t care that you didn’t think about that while waiting in line.
5 The Phone Caller
Ah, that person glued to their mobile phone either chatting or talking to someone. Will they talk to me? Oh, that argument is more important than their order? Okay, the next guys after them are more important at this point. Oh, they’re talking to me now? They’ll have the nerve to get mad at you as well.
4 The Undecided
These are the ones who spend over 20 minutes in line and still do not know what to order by the time they’re at the counter. These are the very people who cause delays that make people wait 20 minutes in line to begin with. They make you wonder what on earth a person stuck in line for 20 minutes can do that’s so important or interesting that they don’t even have time to glance at the menu and decide. Or they could just be girls.
3 Name Patrollers
Some people expect you to know how their name is spelled. This is often the case with teenagers who want to Instagram their drinks (Boy do we enjoy purposefully spelling your name wrong).
Well, at the Starbucks I worked at, most of our customers were non-Germans. Sometimes I wish all Spanish-speaking ladies are just named Anna to make life a little simpler.
2 The Whisperer
They could be extremely shy or just enjoy eating their words or they are bat-eared folks who think that their whisper amid all the background noise is audible.
Some get pissed when you ask them to repeat what they said. Chances are you will give up on asking and spell their name wrong and you will get:
1 ‘I want my money back.’
This customer will shout at you even when you don’t get what’s going on yet. This customer will verbally attack you and your clueless and innocent colleagues. This customer won’t reason. You made her name ‘Danna’ instead of ‘Anna’, and even if their drink was the only one of its kind on the counter, common sense is not so common.
Arguing with customers doesn’t make them wrong (and it’s annoying.) Hence, the Starbucks promise.