This post was written by Belen Jimenez, a Starbucks Partner and also a guest writer for Barista Life. Belen got her degree in English, and as a member of an English Honor Society, she has worked in the editorial field. She also has a writing blog which she updates everyday; identifying as a writer even before a barista. Check her out on her InstagramIf you would like to be a guest writer for TheBaristaLife.com, please click here to fill out a short sign up sheet. Once finished, email your work to firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured.
The Harsh Reality of Dealing with the Average Starbucks Customer
The chaos looks like a swarm of angered bees. People are maneuvering around each other in what seems like an organized tango, all the while never seeming to be in the other’s way. The sounds and smells are intoxicating, quickly followed by the shouts of orders and needed necessities for success.
As I approach my station, I am guarded with my battle gear. I take a deep breath, arm myself for the person approaching, and ready my person for the insanity inevitably headed my way. My enemy heads toward me, smiling with delight at my apparent misery. I attempt to force a smile on my lips, and prepare to do as I have been trained. I open my mouth, and utter the words,
“Welcome to Starbucks! What can I get started for you today?”
The customer seems in an annoyingly pleasant mood. Her goofy smile, gracefully accented by her long, blonde hair. She appears to be in her late teens or early twenties, which immediately instills the notion that she is going to want some sort of frozen dessert-like beverage. She looks at the menu, no doubt intimidated by the options she has to choose from, looking inquisitive as she scans over the boards. She looks at me with her hazel doe eyes and says,
“Is there a way to make a Frappuccino, like, healthy?”
I try to hide my humor at her ignorance. I smile and say,
“Well, we can make it light, which is one third fewer calories, but the Frappuccino is more of a dessert than an actual sophisticated coffee drink. We could make you a skinny latte, which is made with sugar-free syrup and nonfat milk”
She looks at me confused, as if I had just given her the mathematical equation to understanding the way the universe works. She sighs and says,
“Well, I want something with whipped cream”
“But you just asked for something healthy, right?”
“Yeah, but, like, if I get something that is, like, kind of healthy, I do not feel as bad, like, getting the whipped cream”
I look at her wishing I could scream at her stupidity. I deal with customers like her all day, wanting to find some sort of way to make something that is intentionally made to be a sweet treat into a drink that their yoga instructor would approve of. I muster up the strength to retort something that makes sense to her, and say,
“Well, we can make the Frappuccino light, which is made with nonfat milk, use a sugar-free syrup, and still add the whipped cream”
“That sounds great! I will take a large!”
“Okay, so that is a venti sugar-free caramel Frappuccino light with whipped cream”
“Uh, no, I asked for a large”
“A venti is a large, ma’am”
“Oh. I do not know Starbucks speak. It is confusing”
“Okay. Anything else?”
“Make sure the caramel sauce is on top. I want to add that. It is delicious”
I put the order into our system, tell her the total cost for her idiotic beverage, gather her money, hand her change, and she goes about her way.
I deal with this insanity more often than I wish I did. Customers come in day after day, minute after minute, asking for things that make absolutely no sense, thinking they are the caffeine gods and this Starbucks is their Olympus. I get the occasional customer that actually knows a thing or two about coffee. Nothing like a master, but people who appreciate coffee in its truest sense. But, more often than not, I get teenagers who demand their saucy, sweet blended beverages and the older customers that get irritated at the amount of foam on their espresso macchiato. Either way, I accept the fact that I very rarely win the argument, and I just smile and let them go about their ignorant way.
If you are a customer and haven't exactly mastered the Starbucks Lingo, click here to read the Barista Life Customer Guide to Ordering at Starbucks.
Another helpful resource is our post, "Customer Tips: What to Know Before you Go" Guide.
Sure, the words that I say may be a little harsh, but after having to deal with the same type of people for on the better half of eight years, I have become understandably bitter when it comes to people and their needed fix for coffee. But, as I have been taught, I smile and make sure to create the best environment imaginable for our beloved customers.
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