During my five years on bar I’ve heard some bizarre requests. As a barista, it’s my firm conviction that my responsibility to provide hospitality trumps my own preferences. Would I put two Splendas in my coffee? Never. Will I put two Splendas in your coffee if you prefer? Happily.
That being said, there are a few common orders that are objectively wrong. If you value your reputation or have any common decency, you’ll stop ordering these immediately. I write this not to order-shame anyone, but to improve your life and the lives of baristas everywhere.
Half Caf Espresso Drinks
There’s nothing wrong with decaf. Increasingly, quality-minded coffee roasters are putting out better and better decaffeinated coffee. But half caf espresso is a horrible idea. Sure, you may be getting half the caffeine, but you’re getting none of the flavor. Essentially, you’re asking the barista to mix coffee from two different espresso grinders in the same portafilter. The problem is the grounds are going to be different sizes and extract at different rates. The smaller particles are going to over-saturate, giving bitter flavors to the cup while the larger ones aren’t going to be saturated enough, resulting in an overly acidic shot. Suffice it to say, when you mix two different sizes of coffee grounds in the same portafilter, bad things happen. If you’re looking for a half-caf espresso drink, try a classic single shot cappuccino.
“For Here, in a To-Go Cup”
Sometime you have to take your coffee to go. Nothing wrong with that. But if you’re going to be sticking around the café, don’t ask for a paper cup. Every time someone chooses paper over ceramic not only is an actual tree being cut down, but an angel loses its wings. Imagine going to a nice restaurant and asking for your entrée in a styrofoam take away box. That’s essentially what you’re doing.
“Medium Coffee in a Large Cup”
Your integrity is worth more than fifty cents. You want a large coffee with extra room.
“Espresso Over Ice” plus “free” Milk
There’s nothing wrong with pouring espresso over ice. There is something wrong with ordering an espresso over ice, asking for a larger cup, and filling it to the brim with the cream on the condiment bar. That’s an iced breve latte and it costs $6, not $2.50.
This isn’t the 90s. With the exception of a few international chains, nobody scoops foam on top with a spoon anymore. A properly steamed latte has very tight micro bubbles incorporated into the entire milk. Asking for a latte without foam means you’re asking the barista to completely disregard everything they’ve learned about steaming milk and just put hot milk in your espresso. You might as well use a microwave.
Even the largest double shots weigh in at less than three ounces. That espresso takes a maximum of two sips to finish. Order it to-go and you’ll be throwing away your empty paper cup in the trash can by the door. Trust us, it will taste better in a demitasse anyway.
Just kidding. Order as many white mochas as you want.