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Five things to never say to a barista

london's best coffee shops and cafes

It's a hard life being a barista. No really, it is. Here are just a few things that real people (yes, you, people) said to real baristas*.

1. 'Don't ask for a "normal coffee". We do batch brew or espresso-based drinks. How do I know what's "normal" to you?' 

2. 'One guy asked me for a flat American and then got angry when it didn't exist. He stole the spoon out of spite.' 

3. 'Anyone asking for "extra hot" makes what I do as a barista pointless because I’m burning everything in that cup. Someone even ordered "atomic hot" once.' 

4. 'An Americano is a black coffee. When you order one, don’t make me go and get a side of milk.'

5. 'Asking for any sort of syrup. No. If your order contains more than five words, Starbucks is down the street.' 

*We've protected the identities of the baristas in question, because otherwise they wouldn't 'spill the beans' (arf arf – see what we did there?)…. but you'll find the places they work on our piping hot list of London's best coffee shops. 

And check out these 19 cute east London coffee shops



Troels H

My mom is 66 and asks for "normal coffee" because she's not familiar with - and is intimidated by - the coffee shop vocabulary that has become mainstream amongst my generation in the last 15 years. Perhaps part of a Barista's job should be to accept that not every person who might wish to purchase your drink is an aficionado, and be able to accommodate them as well. Just a thought.

Paul P

Given that some of us actually *like* an Americano with milk, what should we ask for? 

Kristine T

If the menu lists syrups I'm asking for a syrup. Otherwise don't put it on the menu

Nigel M

Well to avoid confusion Baristas will ask would you like a "White Coffee"?  People understand this means milky.  My choice is normally a Filter Coffee or an Americano.  They ask with Milk?  and I reply yes please. 

Juliana K Tastemaker

I'd like to know who's the barista that explains that an Americano is a black coffee (because I wanna go there). Not once in this city people not asked me if I'd want milk with it (unless they already served a side of milk without even asking).

And of course I don't want milk, I do like coffee!


For me, it's the nauseous word "regular".  

We are in Britain, where that word refers to a bowel movement.  

I've noticed that the (North) Americans appear to have introduced this word to mask their obesity problem

Latanya I

@Spondulex No.  Regular coffee stands for two creams and two sugars.  I fail to see where masking obesity comes into play.

peter s

I'm sick being given tepid coffee - you're not "burning" coffee by giving it to me at 70C.  If the customer is over 7 years old then they want a hot drink.

June C

Sorry baristas, but I can't stand tepid coffee, I always ask for my flat white extra hot, I'm paying for it and that's how I like it!

Lee G

If I order an Americano in some places you get a drink with milk on it. This is why I'm in the habit of saying Black Americano as otherwise I have to get them to remake it.

peter B

I enjoy a long coffee with a splash of milk - at home I use a caffetierre. The nearest to order out is a White Americano (filter/drip often not strong enough). Sorry baristas if that offends you but we all have different tastes...

Brian C

This kind of customer-hating pretentious wankery is a sign that maybe you're in the wrong job.

1. A normal coffee as anyone knows is made with a spoonful of coffee granules, hot water from a kettle, and a splosh of milk. In a straight-sided mug. Just give me your closest approximation of that.

2. You're the ones who invented a whole lexicon of abstruse jargon to give the illusion that steamed milk and bean juice is some kind of artisanal confection, don't blame us if we can't make sense of it.

3. A person who asks for extra hot just wants a drink they can linger over and still enjoy to the last sip, or something to keep their hands warm while waiting for the train. Or maybe they just don't want to chug another lukewarm coffee-flavoured milkshake like they got last time.

4. OK, so I'm not allowed to ask for a "normal" coffee, and I'm also not allowed to ask for an americano with milk. How do I get a medium-sized coffee that's mostly water with a bit of milk? You tell me, because it didn't used to be this complicated a thing to ask.

5. Starbucks UK posts yearly sales of over £400M. Maybe you should get some syrups in.