It's Best To Keep It Simple When Ordering At A Coffee Shop

Here at Tasting Table, we're all about dismantling foodie elitism. So what if somebody likes rainbow bagels or Bloody Marys topped with skewers of fried chicken? We're singing the praises of gastronomic stylings far and wide, and it's different strokes for different folks. To that effect, few food-related institutions are as infamously rife with silent judgment as a coffee shop

Customers can proudly order an Americano or a black cold brew, but self-professed "coffee drinkers" would turn a nose up at an iced oat milk mocha with extra whipped cream. What gives? We're not about that kind of exclusivity — but we are about not putting your hardworking barista through the wringer with your order. If you order something off the "secret menu," your barista is going to be at least a little annoyed. But, this café faux pas is nothing compared to the ultimate offense: a wildly complicated novel of a coffee order.

Take, for instance, "cinnamon spice chai latte." It may be a mouthful, but it's a fairly straightforward order. If you're about to ask for a "non-fat soy double macchiato with no foam and two pumps of sugar-free vanilla" ... don't do that. You're going to seem picky, and your barista is immediately going to hit you with an eye roll that says "ugh" (if not externally, then they're a master of the customer-service-smile-and-nod and you can be sure the eye roll is happening internally). The people in line behind you are already cringing.

Don't big time the barista -- they won't be impressed

During a busy morning or weekend rush, baristas are super thankful when someone orders a drip coffee, cold brew, or tea. Typically, these drinks are pre-batched and easily dispensed, plus no fresh espresso shot to pull, which moves the line along. You don't necessarily have to order one of these drinks, but know that in the same way that a hot tea order is very much appreciated, the reception of an elaborate, complicated order is quite the opposite.

If you absolutely cannot function without a hyper-specific caffeine fix in the morning, consider investing in a home espresso machine appliance and a milk frother and making that bad boy yourself. Or — tip fat. Two or three dollars per drink is called for, when the order is overly complicated. It lets your barista know that you appreciate them, value their time and effort, and that you just really "like what you like." 

This is a particularly important tip if you're a regular at a specific local coffee shop. If you're hitting the same café day after day and regurgitating the same excruciatingly complex order, the sting won't be so bad for the barista team if they know they can expect fair compensation for the extra effort.