The coffee industry gets a bad rap when it comes to service -- and some of that reputation is probably deserved. The specialty coffee industry has struggled to prove itself worthy within the larger food and beverage world, and many baristas (and even whole shops) will sacrifice hospitality in order to declare their competency. As anyone who has ever received an eye-rolling, exasperated, "We don't do that here," from their barista will testify, bad service hurts our feelings.
But things seem to be on an upward swing lately, so let's focus on the positive. Here are a five signs your barista truly cares.
They Pay Attention to Presentation
Latte art is only one small part of coffee presentation. Coffee is a messy business. Ground espresso gets everywhere, sticky fingers leave icky marks, and drips happen to the best of baristas. Presentation goes way beyond a nicely-poured rosetta or a cute lil' heart. A great barista will wipe the rim of your cup to remove stray coffee, take care of any espresso drips that might have trickled down the side of your cup, and make sure that espresso drinks are served with a neatly-polished spoon.
They Greet You When You Come In
Even if they're busy, they'll let you know they'll be with you shortly. This one seems pretty obvious, right? But you'd be surprised how often we've stood at an unmanned register waiting to be acknowledged by cafe staff. A great barista will greet you, and if they happen to be occupied in that moment, they'll throw a quick, "Be with you in just a moment," your way so you know you haven't suddenly become invisible.
They Test Their Own Drinks
We're not talking guzzling lattes behind the bar all day -- a quick sip of espresso is great, but anything more than that reads as sloppy. Once a barista gets into the groove, it can be easy to lose sight of things like milk temperature, espresso extraction, or any number of subtle factors that might influence drink quality. A great barista will periodically taste-test their drinks to ensure they're still top-notch -- that their milk is not too hot (it's usually not a great idea to burn your customers, guys) and that their coffee is still tasting great.
They Don't Play Trap Music In The Cafe
Baristas of the world: Stop listening to trap music. Stop playing it in your coffee shop. Stop blasting it in your car. Stop it. Stop throwing money at this unnecessary evil.
On a more serious note (not that there's anything more serious than our hatred of trap music), it's really very difficult to enjoy a relaxing coffee experience if the music is too loud, too aggressive, or just not to your tastes. As a general rule, service-attentive baristas will switch up their music playlists and avoid playing whole albums or discographies. While the counter person might love a certain band, a customer might hate their sound. Being forced to listen to any one artist over and over can seriously destroy a customer's experience.
One song is reasonable; twenty tracks in a row by any one artist is bad for business.
They Drop The Bitter Barista Act
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Actually, baristas of the world, you can make an espresso/cappuccino/macchiato to go. You're just choosing not to. Telling your customers anything to the contrary is annoying, unnecessary, and legitimately bad service. So cut it out.
We all learned in kindergarten that we should treat others as we'd like to be treated, but some coffee folk seem to forget this. If a customer doesn't know what a drink is or how you make it, it's really not difficult to politely and kindly offer an explanation. If we ask what you recommend for black coffee, don't condescendingly suggest that what we'd prefer is a blended vanilla latte.
If you find a shop that's worth a damn, your barista will listen attentively to your needs and make every reasonable accommodation to help you leave happy.