Here at Perfect Daily Grind, we think a lot about providing great customer service. But there’s a flip side to this too: being the customer. And this is particularly relevant in the world of specialty coffee, where we all want to support each other’s cafés and roasteries.
Whether you work in specialty coffee or simply love great coffee, we can always become better and more conscientious customers. So here are five tips for becoming your barista’s favourite customer.
1. Be Willing to Learn
It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.
~ Maurice Switzer
Even if you’re a highly experienced barista, when you enter a new shop, there will be things that you don’t know about. Because you’re not working day in and day out with this specific set of coffee and equipment, you may not know or understand the reasons why they do things a certain way.
Instead of proclaiming yourself to be the coffee expert, ask questions. Your coffee knowledge will show itself through the questions you ask. Approach the counter with humility and you may walk away with greater knowledge than you came in with.
Even those who know a lot about coffee can still learn more. Credit: Pexels.
2. Be Clear About Your Preferences
Baristas want to help. And that means that your barista wants to know, as soon as possible, any relevant preferences or allergies you may have. If you’re lactose intolerant, they’ll suggest some great alternative milk options. If you are going gluten-free, they’ll know what options fit your diet.
Stating your preferences from the beginning means that your barista won’t have to make you wait while they remake your drink – and you won’t accidentally get something you can’t or don’t enjoy.
Let your barista know what your preferences are. Credit: Pixabay
3. Be Flexible
Not every shop can carry your favourite brand of milk, and not every shop will have the exact same drink that you love at that other shop. Even if it’s on their menu, chances are it’s going to be a little different. Remember, just like you strive to put your own unique spin on the ordinary, other shops will do the same.
Any shop worth their salt will do their best to make the drink you want, but if they don’t have exactly what you’re looking for, be willing to try something new. A lot of shops will make you a new drink for free if you truly don’t like the one you ordered. And a good barista will listen and ask the right questions to help you find something you love – even if it takes you a bit out of your comfort zone.
If a shop doesn’t offer your favourite drink, be open to trying something different – it may just become your new favourite. Credit: Pexels.
4. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
As much as we’d like them to be, coffee shops aren’t actually our own personal living rooms. Need more time to decide on which coffee you want for your pour over? Step aside and let the patron behind you move ahead. If you’re seated at a table and stumble across a hilarious new video you have to share with your best friend, use headphones.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own little worlds and forget that everyone else is also here just wanting to have a good time and enjoy some good coffee. But a little courtesy will maintain a wonderful coffee shop atmosphere for everyone—you included. (I mean, you don’t really want everyone else glaring at you, do you?)
Be aware of those around you. Credit: Pixabay
5. Be Generous and Give Feedback
We’re not talking about being generous with tips (although those can be important too). Rather, be kind. Be kind to those around you, and be kind to the person working behind the bar. We all make mistakes, but good baristas do their best to fix them if you give them the chance. Be generous with your feedback. If you like a drink, let us know. It’s a huge ego boost when we know that we nailed a drink and thrilled a customer by exceeding their expectations.
But don’t limit your feedback to positive reviews. If we didn’t quite get something right, baristas typically genuinely want to know and be offered a chance to fix it for you. One thing we really appreciate is when customers speak with us before leaving a negative review online. It’s easier for us to get it right when we hear directly from you. We want to provide you with a positive experience and a drink that you love.
A little kindness goes a long way – on both sides of the bar. Credit: Pixabay.
Working together, and supporting each other, as coffee professionals and lovers, we can help the specialty industry grow. We can help other cafés to thrive and other customers to have great coffee experiences. And it’s this sense of collaboration, of support, and of generosity that makes the Third Wave so wonderful.
A huge thank you to Andrew Freehauf who inspired this article with his musings on being a better customer.
Edited by S. Parrish.
All views within this opinion piece belong to the guest writer, and do not reflect Perfect Daily Grind’s stance. Perfect Daily Grind believes in furthering debate over topical issues within the industry, and so seeks to represent the views of all sides.
Perfect Daily Grind.