Why You Should Avoid Cleaning Up Your Spills At A Coffee Shop

Cleaning up after yourself is one of the first things you learn as a kid. It's basic etiquette. So, if one morning you stroll into a coffee shop and promptly spill your full oat milk latte all over the floor, you should clean it up before anyone has the chance to notice ... right? Wrong. In a coffee shop, you might think you're being polite by cleaning up your spill, but you're actually creating even more of a hassle for the baristas. Let us walk you through why.

The scene: Café. Morning. There's coffee all over the floor, and the puddle is spreading. You're beginning to panic, so you rush over to the self-service customer kiosk and grab about thirty paper napkins to mop it up. Now, you've created a new task for the barista — refilling the napkin dispenser. Plus, you just cost the café money they could have saved by mopping up your coffee with an actual utility mop, or with a reusable rag, which most coffee shops regularly order in bulk from a commercial laundromat. A big chain like Starbucks might not miss a fat stack of napkins but swing by a small independent coffee shop and ask the manager how much they spend on paper napkins per week. They'll probably be able to give you an exact figure. (Not to mention that we could all do with a little less single-use waste). And that's just the beginning.

Let the baristas do their job, and don't beat yourself up

Alternate scene: You and your clandestine wad of napkins did a pretty lousy job erasing the spilled coffee and now there's a huge sticky spot on the floor. Gross. Even worse, maybe that spot isn't even sticky yet — it's still just wet. This is the exact type of scenario for which coffee shops have "Caution: Wet Floor" signs to prevent slipping. More seriously, the ideal coffee-brewing temperature is 205 degrees Fahrenheit, and if your coffee is even at 150 degrees, somebody is going to get scalded if they touch it. 

Maybe you're in a hurry, or a naturally fast walker, or your hands tend to shake. Maybe somebody just bumped into you. (Yikes). These things are all normal — but they can certainly lead to some liquid sloshing. Spilling your coffee can be a tad embarrassing, but the best thing to do is swallow your pride, let the barista know, and keep everybody safe.

To minimize spills, make sure the lid is on tightly before you whip it around, trying to cross the crowded room in a hurry. To an even larger degree, if you're using a drink carrier, take a moment to set the carrier down and make sure all the drinks are securely, snugly fastened. You could even ask your barista if the coffee shop carries stoppers to prevent the coffee from sloshing out and onto your hand.