Wake Up Call

Etiquette 101 for Coffee Shop Guests in Greater Phoenix

The best ways to mind your manners when entering coffee shops like Giant Coffee.
The best ways to mind your manners when entering coffee shops like Giant Coffee. Jacob Tyler Dunn
No matter where you look around the Valley, a new coffee shop seems to be sprouting up. We regularly frequent cafes to grab a sip with a friend or get some solid work done. So as coffee culture grows and expands, one may wonder how to conduct oneself in these increasingly curated settings.

We spoke with baristas around greater Phoenix to get their take on a few key issues.

First Impressions

When you walk up to the counter to place your order, leave your phone out of the interaction. Texting — or God forbid, talking — on your phone are not just ill-mannered, they keep the barista from suggesting his or her favorites, or tailoring the order to your needs.

And P.S., if the barista is preoccupied behind the espresso machine, avoid trying to start a conversation, as they probably can't hear you over the grinding, extracting, and steaming going on.


Don't let your past negative experiences color this new one. Your coffee preparer is happy to listen and make your drink the way you want it, if given the chance. In the same vein, if you are a novice to java, communicate that.

"Some people walk in with an attitude like, 'I've never had a good cup of coffee,'" says Liz Robillard from the recently opened Lola Coffee in Arcadia.

Understand that Starbucks, while a convenient spot to grab a brew, does not necessarily do things the traditional way. A caramel macchiato will probably not translate in this world of local coffee shops. That is why honest conversation with your caffeine dealers is imperative; they may be able to make you a similar drink or suggest something from their own menu.

"We appreciate it when guests are as receptive to us as we're trying to be to them," says Jana Logan at Provision Coffee.

And if you have an issue with the service or your drink, be courteous enough to bring it up during your visit, rather than just ranting about it on Yelp later.

The Process

"Respect the craft — it takes time," Kyle Berg of Regroup Coffee + Bicycles says.

The amount of time it takes to get your drink will vary based on what you order and other factors, such as the volume of business at the moment. This pertains especially to manual brews, such as those done via a v60 or Chemex. While these processes may yield brilliant results, they are arduous and involve weighing the beans, grinding them to the proper consistency, and pouring water slowly and strategically through a specific type of filter until a certain weight is achieved. So yeah, patience is a must.

"If you don't use the right technique, [the coffee] just tastes bitter or burnt," says Daniel Balderas of Giant Coffee.

Other factors such as weather and what you eat while (or before) sipping some coffee can also affect the taste of your joe. Be patient and open to learning about the process.


Baristas, similar to bartenders, handcraft each beverage, with added dimensions like heat and latte art. All tips are appreciated, but $1 to $2 per drink is recommended.

Most beantenders, if you will, earn the minimum hourly wage and count on tips to supplement their income. And if the service was amazing or the flower atop your latte alluring, why not show your barista some love?

In the end, relax and relish in the experience. Coffee shops are great places to collaborate, be productive, or simply people watch. The tips above will hopefully allow you to sit back and smell the coffee with a bit more ease and a lot less guilt.
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Natasha is a dining reporter who loves to explore the Valley’s culinary gems. She has covered cannabis for the New Times, politics for Rolling Stone, and health and border issues for Cronkite News in conjunction with Arizona PBS, where she was one of the voices of the podcast CN2Go.
Contact: Natasha Yee