The Five Hardest Customers a Barista Deals With

I love working in a coffee shop, it’s easy, the hours are flexible and I get all the free coffee I want-- the perfect part-time job for a full-time student. As a barista I get to encounter a lot of different types of customers and my interactions vary with every customer.


1. The Appalled Customer

So often customers ask how much something will be before they buy it, sometimes they buy it, sometimes they don’t. Fair enough, however the problem happens when the price is so shocking the customer burns up with passion and starts complaining about it to me. Once I had a customer who decided that enough was enough, he started ranting loudly about how expensive the coffee was everywhere, now there is absolutely nothing I can do about these prices. They are calculated with extreme thought by people who are not part-time baristas and most likely have degrees in finance. This particular customer ended up buying a coffee anyway, after he got through how I (and the coffee industry) was a thief for taking his well earned money. I’m sorry sir, but I didn’t point a gun at your head forcing you to buy a two dollar cup of coffee.


2. The My Way or the Highway Customer

I get it, you are paying potentially half the minimum wage on that almond milk, half-sweet vanilla latte, so you want it done right. I totally do not mind hearing the order that asks for different milks, certain levels of sweetness, specific degrees of temperatures-- I can handle it all...IF I have the required ingredients and knowledge. I cannot make you a drink that exists at a different store, if it’s not on our menu (or at least the ingredients) the best I can do is offer an alternative. Ninety percent of the time, the customer is alright with the alternative or okay with the fact I can’t make it. The My Way or the Highway Customer is not-- once I had a woman who wanted a certain trademarked drink made by a certain mermaid branded cafe where I don’t work. She didn’t want the alternative I offered, and she also didn’t like the reason being that she was at a different store. She left and I was alright with that.


3. The On My Phone Every Minute of my Existence

Sure ordering a coffee isn’t like being at the movies, you don’t have to turn off your phone but I deserve a bit of eye contact and proper communication even if I don’t get the customary exchange of ‘How’re you’s’. The entire process gets a lot harder if I don’t get clearly told what you want, if they’re so preoccupied they don’t properly pay, or they accidentally grab the drink meant for a different person because they can’t take their eyes off their screen. So please, spare three minutes of your life off the phone and order the drink.


4. The Bathroom User

The customer that only came in for the bathroom, this type can be polite and order something small then uses the bathroom and leaves. Or they don’t buy anything ever and leaves after ignoring the ‘washroom is only for customers only’ sign. As long as nothing in the store is damaged, I can deal with this customer. It’s when the bathroom is out of order, this customer becomes unmanageable. I have gotten yelled at plenty of times for not letting people in the bathroom when it’s broken. I can’t magically make it work if you’ve already bought something. I can’t fix it if you say you will buy something expensive if I let you use it. I’m not moonlighting as a plumber, I can’t fix broken toilets.


5. The Talker

This type of customer is tricky, they’re so friendly, I can’t deal with it. There is a fine balance between pleasant chit chat and a full on conversation. It all depends on the environment, The Talker usually doesn’t take this into consideration and my life gets difficult. Maybe the line behind them is long or perhaps I have a lot of orders to make and they are oblivious to this and will start talking about the time they went fishing. I’m down to have a friendly chat if it’s short or if I have time, but if I’m not able to spare this time, it’s a hard task cutting them off.


Again, I love working in a coffee shop, but I do not love these customers. Hopefully you aren’t guilty of being one of these customers, and if you are...well I think it’s time you change your life for the better! 



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