Opinion: Five ways you're making your barista hate you

This article was first published in May 2019.

OPINION: It's no secret that hospitality is a gruelling industry. I worked in it for eight years throughout high school and university, and after too,  so I know a little bit about how infuriating people can be.

The hours are long and unsociable, I was on my feet the whole time, and I dealt with the general public who had no idea how much stress I was under because I was paid to smile and be nice - and I was damn good at it.

However, there are definitely things that people did or said to me which make that paid smile waver. So here are five things you're doing that drive your barista nuts.

1. "Mine's trim."

During a morning rush, I would normally have around eight to 10 coffee orders at a time - all needing to be completed within the next two minutes. 

This is stressful. I am sweaty. I am tired. I have needed to pee for the past four hours.

And every day someone would lurk on the other side of my coffee machine, lean over the counter to watch me pour one of these 10 orders and inform me that actually, their coffee is trim.

I know your coffee is trim. I can see the docket which tells me your coffee is trim. This coffee is not yours. You ordered three seconds ago. Please god, have some trust in me. 

2. "Flat white."

When you come up to order from the actual living human behind the till, and they greet you with "Good morning! What can I get you today?" it is important to remember they are an actual human - not the self-serve machine at McDonald's

The appropriate response is "Good morning. Could I please have a flat white?'

The response I got, day in and day out, was "flat white."

Often, this demand cut off my perfectly rehearsed and wonderfully peppy greeting. In a normal interaction, with someone you consider an equal, would you interrupt them half-way through a sentence and demand something from them?

No, you would not. That is not how conversation works. That's not even how interaction works. Knock it off.

3. "Oh, we're just in time!"

The words "we're just in time" now awaken a deep primal rage in me. 

If you have ever uttered these words as you enter a café just before closing, you need to know you are not "just in time". You are about an hour and a half late, and the establishment you have entered closes in three minutes.

It takes approximately two hours of cleaning to prepare a café for close - and with four words you have now undone all of that work. 

And now, I must smile and say "Hey, you sure are!" as I ruin all of the things I have cleaned and reset. My after-work drink recedes into the distant future.  My 12-hour day turns into a 14-hour day. 

But hey, technically yes. You're just in time. 

4. "Can I get that in a takeaway cup, but I'll have here."

I loathed this request with the burning passion of 10,000 extra hot flat whites. The planet is dying, and you're not helping, Deborah!

Every cup you take and discard goes to landfill where it lies for a million years, but do you care? No, because you only think about yourself.

If you're that desperate to have a latte in a grown-up Sippy cup then get a reusable cup! It provides exactly the same service, and it doesn't clog the planet with trash.

5. "I ordered a cappuccino as well."

After eight years in hospitality, the amount of plates I can carry on one arm would astound a normal human. 

My wrist strength is awe-inspiring. I am the Wonder Woman of whiteware - but I am not an octopus. So when I finish laying down your table's fourth coffee, and turn to leave, please for the love of god, don't tell me I've forgotten your cappuccino. I haven't forgotten it, Craig.

It's sitting on the bench about a minute away - I just assumed you'd rather drink than wear it, because if I had tried to carry it to you right now, it would inevitably be all over both of us at this stage.



If I sound bitter, it's because I am. The hospo industry will make you jaded, but it does have its benefits. For every person who annoyed me, there were two more that were lovely, kind and appreciative.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to treating the person who is serving you with respect, and trusting they know how to do their job just as well as you know how to do yours. 

So the next time you go to get coffee, remember the person serving you is a human too.

Vita Molyneux is a Newshub digital producer who worked as a barista throughout high school and university.