8 Things Your Barista Wishes You Knew About Coffee

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Christopher Michel)

Certainly some baristas come off as more pretentious than others, but at the end of the day, it’s because they are passionate about what they do, and they don’t always get the respect that they deserve. Neither do their drinks.

With that in mind, here are eight things your barista may wish you knew about coffee.

If you order a triple macchiato with a raspberry shot and extra foam, your barista probably isn’t going to flinch. But inside they just may be screaming. They’ll just make your drink without as much as a peep. Because after all, baristas are in the customer service industry, and there are plenty of things going through their minds that they’ll never say, although they might like to.

1. Your black coffee doesn’t need milk.

Here’s the thing about milk: it’s a great helper when we’re drinking a coffee of mediocre quality. But if you’re drinking a high quality coffee? You’re covering up all the flavor nuances in the cup, which is why your barista doesn’t really want you putting milk in your pour over. To make a coffee that has been sitting on the stovetop all morning tolerable you will probably want milk. But a high end specialty coffee made with love and care? Try it without to see if you can pick up all the tasting profiles that good coffees are known for.

That black currant just isn’t going to come through the half and half.

2. A Grande is not actual coffee terminology.

It is at that one huge coffee chain, but they are not the owners or the dictators of the coffee world. It’s like saying you are going to Xerox something, when really all you are doing is making a copy of a piece of paper.

3. Frothing milk makes the milk taste sweeter.

As the temperature of milk rises, lactose becomes more soluble. As it does, its sweetness is more noticeable, which is why you may have had a love for warm milk when you were a child. It’s not that the milk is actually sweeter, but as it heats up its perceived sweetness increases. So when a barista is making you a beautiful espresso drink with perfectly frothed coffee, it’s going to taste a little sweeter than if you just added milk to black coffee.

Which means that you don’t need to pour five tablespoons of sugar into your cappuccino. Give it a try as is. Who knows, you might just be tempted to wean yourself off of your sugar habit.

(Image credit: Jonathan Lin)

4. They’ll grind those beans for you, but they really, really want you to buy whole ones.

Get that burr grinder and get it now.

5. That double, triple hazelnut, whipped, semi foam, frapped, mocha infused whatever you’re ordering is a compromise.

You can barely even call it coffee.

6. You shouldn’t get hung up on labels.

Super concerned that the coffee you’re being served isn’t organic and fair trade? There is a lot of debate about these labels in the specialty coffee industry. Often small scale farmers can’t afford the organic label, although their practices might be very organic. It’s like buying organic produce from Walmart, but not buying produce from the farmer down the road because they don’t have organic written on their sign, even though they are committed to respecting their land and sustainable practices.

So when you insist upon being served organic certified coffee, it can be frustrating. Let your barista tell you about the coffees they serve, and where they come from and who produced them, before you start judging.

7. How much time and effort goes into growing, harvesting, and producing coffee and getting it to you.

Coffee does not have a simple supply chain, which is why we should treat it more like a luxury product than an average everyday one. That’s why the good stuff is going to cost you more than a dollar. Respect the drink and respect the process.

8. Making good coffee takes time.

Think of coffee like slow food versus fast food. If you’re getting a barista to make you a drink, do you really want it to go as fast as possible? No, you want them to take their time and do it well. Otherwise you could have just bought one of those machines where you get coffee with the press of a button.

But baristas don’t know everything!

And finally, for some humor, there’s this from the good people at Sprudge: