How to Order Coffee


Manchester, UK

I’m at my coffee shop every single day. I know the process and routine. It’s old hat to me.

When a new person orders coffee, it’s a mess. I wanted to offer a few helpful tips so you can navigate your Caribou or Dunn Brothers or Starbucks or independent coffee shop with poise and grace.

  1. Know what you want to drink. It is easy to be confused by the language so stand somewhere and read the sign. Just don’t stand in line, freak out, and then act helpless when the barista asks for your drink order. Get a clue.
  2. Ask for help in an organized way. If you don’t know what you want to drink, approach the counter and say, “I don’t know how to order what I want.” Then tell the barista what you want. She will explain to you what it’s called. Remember it.
  3. Pay for your drink and step out of line. 100% of coffee shops have you move to the edge of the counter to pick up your drink. Get moving.
  4. If you order a common drink and worry about having someone else take it, ask the barista to put your name on the cup. Trust me. That works.
  5. Don’t crowd the coffee bar. Your coffee is processed in the order it was received. Just like every other factory-driven process in the western world. Blocking the bar doesn’t help.
  6. Don’t chat up the guy making your coffee. He is busy. Jesus. This is his job. Let him focus.
  7. Don’t touch another person’s drink. I stood at my coffee shop, the other day, and watched a woman crowd the bar and start handing out drinks to other patrons as the orders were ready. My drink came up and I yelled, “Don’t touch that!” Then I scowled. Rude? Maybe. But the baristas are required to have clean hands. This chick? She was probably picking her ass right before coming into the coffee shop. No thanks.
  8. When you get your drink, get out of the way. It’s crowded and loud in there. Don’t block the pathway or stand around chatting with a woman from church.

I took my grandmother to Starbucks, a few years ago, and she didn’t understand the fuss or the chaos. I said — I don’t understand it, either, but the chaos is generally caused by the customers and not the employees. That’s true in most stores, which is why I hope my advice is helpful.

Gramma agreed that the customers were stupid. We laughed at people who ordered frappucinos for their kids without understanding that there is caffeine in those drinks. Suckers. Serves you right. Hope your kid’s rapid heart beat and anxiety are covered under your health insurance plan.

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