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My Barista Experience at Caribou Coffee

Being a barista at Caribou has been an awesome experience! The people I work with are all amazing and the chaos we cause at my store… could probably get us in trouble. I’m honestly surprised some of us have not been fired. Anyways, being a barista has taught me so much about customer service and how to react to HORRIBLE customers. So, I present you with some of my best “go-to” barista stories. EVER.


If at first you don’t succeed, chai and chai again!

A middle-aged lady came through the drive through and ordered a hot chai latte. I had only been working there for about two weeks, but I was familiar enough with the drinks to be able to make them without the cheat sheets. So, I made the drink like a good drink slave and handed it out to the lady. A good seven minutes pass, and I see the same lady out of the corner of my eye. She came back into Caribou and said there was something wrong with her drink. Being the good employee, I was, I made the drink again. This time I made sure to follow the cheat sheet. Turns out, I made it correctly the first damn time. Anyways, I made the drink again and handed it to her with a pleasant, “I’m so sorry about that, have a nice day”. I thought, “Nailed it,” but I was wrong. About five minutes later, the lady comes in and demands to see the manager because her drink “doesn’t taste like the ones she orders at Starbucks.” Side note, Starbucks makes their chai with water; Caribou makes the chai with milk and chai flavor. So, my manager comes out and makes the drink himself. I hope to God this is the last encounter I have with this lady. 45 seconds after she leaves the store, she comes in AGAIN, budging in front of an old couplealmost knocking them overand screams,”This is so disgusting, I am never coming here ever again. What is wrong with this horrible drink. I want a refund.” My manager walks over to the customer and says, “Okay.” She got her money back and stormed out of Caribou.


Toasted but not burnt:

My Caribou store opens at 5am on most days, and we have many regular customers. Most of them are friendly and one is NOT. This MIDDLE-AGED LADY goes through the drive through every morning and orders two large chai tea lattes, one with a full-flavor shot of vanilla and one with a half-flavor shot of vanilla. She also never fails to mention the fact that we burnt her bagel the first time she ordered it. But still, this lady orders a cinnamon sugar bagel toasted, but not burnt with honey-almond cream cheese. She says, “TOASTED, BUT NOT BURNT” every. single. time. Maybe she’s just tired or maybe she’s just like that?


What a sh*tty day:

One lovely afternoon I was working, and I along with one of the managers for that day were notified that the women’s bathroom needed to be cleaned. So, the manager walks in, and probably expected there to be a minimal mess. What she saw left her, along with literally everyone else on Earth, disgusted. The whole bathroom was covered in fecal matter. My manager geared up, bought gloves that go up to her elbows, and started to clean the horror. A good hour goes by and the women’s bathroom is back to its clean state. Talk about a shitty day.


Mistakes were made:

Remember the lady with the two chai lattes? Well, one time our store made a shipment error with how many bottles of flavoring to order. Turns out, we ordered half as many as we needed. For a solid three days, we were out of vanilla flavoring. She ordered her drinks and bagel as usual. I proceeded to tell her that we were out of vanilla flavoring and the look on her face was as if someone had just killed her puppy. “How can you guys be out of vanilla flavoring?” I began to explain the error we had made and offered her a different flavor. “Perhaps you would like hazelnut, raspberry, mint?” Yes I offered her mintI know gross. She told me that hazelnut would just have to suffice. I can still feel her staring at me to this day.


Talk about a funky request:

At Caribou, we often get some funky requests. Here are some of the weirdest orders I have ever experienced. Could I have:

“A large raspberry, green bubble tea with one shot of espresso”

“A large, hot turtle mochawhich already has three shots in itwith FOUR extra shots”

“A cinnamon sugar bagel toasted with smoked salmon cream cheese”

“A large chai tea latte with a full flavor shot of mint”

These are all a “NO” for me…



Many people like a little sweetener in their coffee. However, this person took it to the extreme. I was working barista at the time and we had a customer ask for “a lot of sweetener in their coffee.” I made her drink and set it on the counter for it to be handed out to drive-through. A good five minutes goes by and my manager finds me in the back and asks me, “How much sweetener did you put in that lady’s drink?” I thought, “Oh no, I’ve done something horribly wrong.” I proceeded to ask timidly, “Why?” My manager responded with, “Because she said it was PERFECT!” I guess you could say I was a little surprised because I had put twelve pumps of pure cane sugar in her drink. TWELVE. Moral of the story… I’m a pro.


If you made it this far in the article, here are some funny stories I have with the other employees.


As employees, we are required to know almost every drink and sandwich and how to make them, but sometimes, we do a little experimenting of our own. Because of my newly vegan/pescatarian/healthy-eating lifestyle, I have to come up with some interesting things to eat at a  place that doesn’t serve salad. Almost every day, I would have a vegetable sandwich on a pumpernickel bagel. This would consist of avocados, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, honey mustard and sometimes smoked salmon. I know, it’s weird.


There were also numerous times that the employees took their own creative liberties to make some of their own drinks and cute shaped bagels. Here is an example of a cat shaped bagel I created when I was “supposed to be cleaning”:


At Caribou, there would be many days with endless amounts of down time. With said time, our team would either do our joblike deck scrubbing and cleaning the fridgesor we would draw on the counters or concoct our own “one of a kind drinks.” Here are some of my favorite drinks we came up with:


  • Strawberry banana smoothie, creampoped with a full flavor shot of raspberry.

  • Cookies and cream coffeeless cooler with mint chunks and mint flavoring instead of the chocolate syrup.

  • Vanilla hazelnut coffee with a few pumps of caramel with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkle on top (we called this one: The Cinnamon Bun).


All in all, I have really loved working at Caribou. It has been a hilarious and wild experience. My favorite part of working at Caribou is meeting new customers and getting to know our regulars. I have also loved getting to know the other employees! I have definitely made friendships that will last a long time. Shout out to my Caribou co-workers! Love you all!

Taylor is a sophomore at Winona State majoring in Social Work and minoring in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies where she hopes to become a social worker for survivors of sexual assault or possibly a social worker to help parents within the LGBTQ+ community when adopting children. She is from a suburb of Saint Paul Minnesota and has been an advocate of human rights since probably the beginning of time. This is Taylor’s first year in Her Campus, and she would like to create a safe and friendly environment to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of the world. When she is not in class, you can find Taylor at the Lutheran Campus Center or anywhere there is an opportunity to speak out about the social injustices of the world.
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