Please Stop Assuming You Know More Than Your Barista

Okay, I get it: you really like coffee. You know about different roasts, and the flavors of different regions, and how to make cold brew at home. Maybe you even know how to steam milk properly! But please, for the love of God, stop assuming you know more than your barista. It is so hard to fake a smile and be polite when some middle-aged guy is mansplaining loose-leaf tea to you during the middle of a rush. If you want to chat with your barista and share information that’s totally fine and honestly pretty fun, but just take a couple of moments to think about what exactly it is you’re doing.

Here’s the thing: it’s a barista’s job to know a lot about coffee. And yeah, some take it more seriously than others. Some baristas have done a lot of research and others have done almost none, but the nature of working at a coffee shop means you’ll inevitably learn a lot about coffee. Being surrounded by it for hours every day means you just pick up on stuff that you really can’t without having hands-on experience. If a customer comes in and starts chatting with me about some of the finer details, that can be really fun (that is, if, like me, you’re a nerd and like talking about all the different coffee-making methods for ages and ages). When a customer comes in and immediately assumes I don’t know what I’m doing, that’s when things take a turn for the worse. I am begging with you: don’t be the second person.Let’s take the aforementioned loose-leaf tea guy: this is someone who came in and started grilling me about exactly how our tea is made. The interaction was made worse by the fact that it was a Saturday afternoon and the line was out the door and I didn’t really have time to go through a tea interrogation, but I was happy to answer questions when he asked if our tea was infused, rather than naturally flavored with whole inclusions. Even after explaining everything, he didn’t believe me and very loudly told his companions that I was wrong. The whole interaction was frustrating and, quite frankly, embarrassing.

Really, what this all comes down to is something that’s important when interacting with any service worker: respect. By acting like you know more than the employee at whatever business you may be patronizing, you’re being disrespectful of the time and energy they’ve put into being good at their job. Before you talk over an employee, take a minute and remember that service workers are people, too.