Baristas usually see people at their very worst - early in the morning before they have their coffee and when their brains aren't firing at full capacity - so it's no surprise to hear that they run into a few bad apples from time to time. While just about everyone can be a little hard to handle when the day is still young, some customers are worse than others.
A group of baristas recently shared the worst customers they have ever met and their responses were something else. They discussed every type of customer in every type of situation. We've gone through the responses and found some of the most insane customer stories they had to share and compiled them into an easy to read format. All posts have been edited it for clarity.
We Don’t Accept That Kind Of Milk
“As goes the neighborhood, I’ve watched my shop get overrun with the kind bougie new-age people that make shopping at Whole Foods the most painful experience ever.
This one regular would always come in and ask us about the nit-pickiest details of our food — whether or not the tomatoes in the soup were organic, the washing method of our single origin beans — and obviously this woman was gluten-free for no good reason.
It turns out she was pregnant for most of the time when I first started noticing her because she resurfaced a month later with a baby strapped to her chest in some kind of handmade sash she bought for $200 off Etsy.
This woman was always bugging us about our alternative milk, none of which were up to her standards.
She asked for a latté one day and before I could ask her if she wanted to give our hemp milk a look, she started to slide a mason jar of off-white fluid across the counter. It was her own milk…
It took everything inside me to suppress the urge to jump into traffic and politely tell her that this was the most unsanitary thing anyone has ever asked me to do in my long life as a barista. She was ticked, and I haven’t seen her since then.”
What Do You Mean Different Sizes Have Different Prices?
“I was standing behind a customer at the E-bar, waiting to get a mocha. The customer initially ordered a tall latté. The barista marked up the cup and then said, ‘$3.42 Please!’
The customer gawked and said, ‘HOW MUCH?’
The barista repeated herself, and the customer counted her change, and the barista said, ‘Would you rather have a smaller cup? It’s less money?’
The customer stood there, clearly boggled, and wanted the prices repeated. So the barista obliged. Then the customer asked, ‘Why are the prices different?’
The barista held up the cups and said, ‘Well, one cup is bigger than the other, so…’
The customer then pointed to a cup and said, ‘It’s not fair there are different prices!’
I wanted to laugh, but I initially thought the customer was kidding. When it was my turn, I told the barista I wanted a tall, but I wanted the universal price, she laughed and said, ‘Nice try!’
I guess I go there too often.”
He Realized He Wasn’t At Starbucks, Right?
“I worked at a small specialty coffee shop right outside of Seattle and all the baristas there had college degrees and at least two years of experience before we started working there.
Well, one morning, it was me and another girl who graduated with her masters at 20 years old. We were working when this man came in with a big, long, complicated Starbucks order. I believe it was like a venti, decaf, caramel macchiato with raspberry or something. I would have been happy to make something similar, but our largest cup was a 16 ounce and we didn’t have the raspberry syrup he wanted.
We offered him a caramel latté and he dismissively was like, ‘Yeah, sure whatever, just get me coffee.’
So the other girl made his drink while I started ringing up the next customer. She handed him his drink, and he said, ‘This isn’t a venti, I ordered a venti.’
Coworker: ‘Well, sir, this is the largest size we have. I only charged you for the 16 ounces.’
Man: ‘This will never last me all the way to the coast! I’ll have to go buy another drink because of this! And it costs more than a venti, why is it smaller? This is ridiculous.’
Coworker: ‘Sorry, sir, there are comment cards over by the condiment bar if you want to tell the owner to offer larger sizes.’
Man: ‘Yeah, like they’d listen, whatever!’
He then took a sip.
Man: ‘This tastes so wrong! Where is the raspberry?’ He was getting really angry at this point. ‘No wonder you work at a coffee shop, you’re too stupid to do anything worthwhile in your life! It’s a good thing my daughter is in med school so she doesn’t end up like you morons! You can’t even make a coffee right and it is not that hard!’
He kind of just kept yelling and ranting as he walked out of the store with his coffee. I wish I could have seen the look on his face when he realized that I was on my way to go to pharmacy school just like his precious daughter, and the other girl already had a Master’s. But oh well.”
This Scam Isn’t His Only Malfunction
“There is a man who comes to my Starbucks every single day and orders the most horrible drink in an infuriating way.
He purchased 365 Starbucks cards and registered every one of them online with a different birthday so that he gets a ‘free birthday drink’ EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR. Even though I know exactly how he ‘beat the system,’ he pretends that his app is just malfunctioning and it magically gives him the same free birthday drink every day.
If he was a nice guy, I might not be so irritated. But he’s not a nice guy. Here is a sample of our exchange when he orders:
Me, scowling on the inside: ‘Hello.’
Him: ‘I need a Venti cup and a marker.’
Me: ‘Oooooohkaaaay. Here ya go.’
I reluctantly give him the cup and marker. He draws lines and arrows and writes all over the cup while telling me: ‘Two pumps of white mocha here, then add five pumps of vanilla. That should take us to this line here where you’re going to add cold heavy cream up to this ridge here. It should be halfway between this line and this line. Make sure to add the heavy whipping cream before the espresso, it changes the taste if you do it out of order. Then add your four shots, three regular and one long shot. That long shot is important since you guys reformulated your machines, it’s been a nightmare trying to get my drink right. That long shot helps balance it. Then stir it for me, Mister Brad. Now do me a favor and add ice to the top there and it’ll be easy as pie. I’m not picky so don’t worry about shaking it or anything like that.’
Me: ‘OK. Easy as pie.’
Him: ‘Now they ring it up for me like this: one quad espresso, add white mocha, sub vanilla, sub heavy cream.’
He wants it rung up that way so he just has to pay $3 for a drink that really should be around $6.50 if it was rung up correctly as an Iced Quad Venti Vanilla White Mocha with heavy cream instead of milk.
Him: ‘Now I’m going to use my free birthday reward to pay. Did I tell you about my birthday reward app malfunction? The app is messed up and it’s been giving me the same free birthday drink for 12 days now! I mean, I’m not going to complain or anything. Maybe I should check my mail at my old house and see if I’ve won free Starbucks for life! Ha ha ha!’
He then takes a sip of his drink and frowns.
Him: ‘Mister Brad, why don’t you pour a decaf shot on top of this for me? It’ll be perfect then. It’s just a hair too sweet.’
I pour one decaf shot on top of his drink.
Me: ‘Thanks! Have a great day. Oh yeah, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY.'”
It Was Like Some Tormented Game Being Played By The Customer
“There used to be this woman who would come in with her daughter and the daughter’s poor beleaguered boyfriend. One day, they all ordered lattés, and so I made three lattés.
The mother said hers was too weak. The daughter said hers was too cold. Neither of them actually tried the drinks before making those comments. Not even a sip.
I went back and made the exact same drinks to exactly the same temperature. I set them down and they were fine with it. This happened a couple times a week for a few months.
A few times I actually just took the latté’s back and gave them the exact same drinks. They would just get off on sending drinks back. I can’t be too mad though, the mother owned a hotdog stand. Her life was being in a small box for nine hours a day making hot dogs.
I have thought about buying one and sending it back though.
I had another customer who would come in about 10 times one week until I got sick of her and she stopped coming in. She asked for a decaf latté, extra hot and with a very creamy head.
Alright, whatever. I made her one, but the head wasn’t creamy enough and was separated from the liquid (like it’s supposed to). I made her another one. This one wasn’t hot enough. It was only about a half a degree off scalding, how hot does she want it? Hot enough so she can’t taste that it’s decaf anymore, I guess.
So I made her another one. I burned the Mama Mia out of this thing. Milk was fully boiled and the whole thing was terrible. She loved it. She even came in again and ordered the same thing.
Every single time, some unknowable criteria was violated. It smelled funny, there was too much coffee taste, stuff like that. After about five days of this, she came in again and ordered her usual latté, so I made it.
She complained about how the head wasn’t creamy enough. She started spooning it out and asked me, ‘See what I mean?’
I snapped and said. ‘No, I don’t,’ and walked off.
I was so sick of her spaghetti. I get the feeling she burns her bridges at different cafés and has to move onto somewhere that isn’t sick of her after a few days.
I refuse to deal with either of those people ever again. Life’s too short to peddle my delicious brown caffeinated beverages to those morons.”
Oh, You Know, The American Discount
“I work at a European airport.
This morning, I had a very irate lady order a coffee. I small-talked with her, she told me she’d taken a red-eye, and that she’d read her book the whole way. Fairly standard transaction.
That is until I asked her to pay. I told her that the total came to €2.50. She then insisted that I gave her a discount because she was ‘an American citizen on the 4th of July’ and that ‘every airport in the US would give me a discount.’ She then started waving her passport at me.
Eventually, she left and still refused to pay for the coffee.
This is not an ideal exchange at 6 am.”
She Should Have Thought About Her “Allergy” Before She Ordered To Bread With Nuts
“Two come to mind. One lady came up to the counter with an order written on her phone. She said it was on the Starbucks secret menu.
I said, ‘Well, we don’t do things the same way they do, so I wouldn’t recommend ordering anything like that here.’
Her order said something like, ‘Half sleep tea, half mint tea, and fill the cup halfway with lemonade.’
She said, ‘Well, you’re the closest coffee shop… soo…’
I really tried to push that, while we do have mint tea, chamomile tea, and lemonade, I definitely do not recommend mixing all of them in the same cup. I couldn’t even figure out if this is supposed to be a hot or cold drink.
She said she just wanted it and that it was supposed to be hot. We kept the lemonade concentrate in our fridge and I was not asking our barista to steam it.
I told her I would have to charge her for two teas and a small lemonade.
She was annoyed and said, ‘Just do something like this.’
I charged her $7 and she got a lukewarm mess. I can’t even begin to explain how much I stressed that our tea was really good and if she just wanted a sweetened hot tea with lemon, it would definitely be delicious. But oh well.
Another lady ordered a toast on granola bread with cinnamon butter (a local chef makes it for us, it’s so good) and wanted her money back or a free drink because she was allergic to nuts. How are you going to order granola bread when you’re allergic to nuts?!”
She Still Didn’t Know Why The Baristas Were Mad After This One
“One place I worked had the coffee brewers lined up at the bar, so we, the baristas, could face customers when getting their coffee. One evening this Rhodes Scholar decided that she was going to get her own coffee, grabbed a cup, and pressed on the lever.
Mind you the spouts were on our side, so I don’t know where she thought the coffee was going to come out. Or, more importantly, why we had made the lever so hard to reach and ‘backward.’
Well, the coffee was coming out on our side. But she started pressing down even harder and boiling coffee was spraying all over my co-worker.
We were blessed with a sink with an extendable spray faucet, so when my coworker shrieked in pain and fled, he was able to be hosed liberally with cold water from the faucet by another coworker. He was okay, thankfully.
The customer couldn’t understand why we very angrily kicked her out.”
She Wanted Her Way, Even If It Wasn’t Possible
“I work for a very well known coffee giant, and have done for almost three years. I’ve dealt with my fair share of difficult customers over the years, but the woman today really took the cake.
We’ve just had a complete transformation of our iced blended cold drinks and have a new recipe to follow, which has to be followed TO THE LETTER, or else I can get into real trouble.
I had just started my shift and had gone straight onto the bar to make drinks. I had a few to catch up and had just made a plain, coffee flavored blended iced drink for a customer, who took it and walked away. Two minutes later, shes was back.
Customer: ‘This doesn’t taste sweet. This doesn’t have any sugar in it. You NEED to make me one with sugar in it. It’s supposed to have sugar in it.’
Me: ‘Oh, they actually don’t come with sugar in them, but there is sugar over on the condiment bar that you could add to it.’
Customer: ‘No, that won’t taste right. I need YOU to make me a new one and put sugar in it.’
Me: ‘Actually, I can’t do it that way for you, as it would affect the texture and flavour of the drink, so it wouldn’t come out right. Like I said, there’s sugar on the condiment bar, which you could add to the drink. Or, I could add in a flavored syrup for you, such as caramel or vanilla.’
Customer: ‘No, this needs to have SUGAR in it. Why didn’t you make it that way? It’s supposed to be like that!’
I was slowly losing the will to live as I repeated everything I already told her.
Customer: ‘I need YOU to help me here, I want my drink and I want it with sugar in it! Why can’t you just do what I’m asking you too?’
Me: ‘I’m sorry, but as I’ve already said, I can’t do that. Would you not like to try a syrup to make it sweeter?’
Customer: ‘Yeah, you have that sugar-syrup, just add that.’
Me: ‘Actually, we don’t have that here, but we have plenty of sweet flavors, such as vanilla or caramel.’
Customer, who was stomping her feet at this point: ‘Fine. I don’t WANT this now. I’ll have strawberry one, will that be sweet?’
Me: ‘Yes, it will.’
Customer: ‘OK, and can you put sugar in that for me?’
Me, as I melted into a puddle of disbelief and anger and practically died on the spot: ‘No, as I’ve already said, I can’t do that for you. It should be sweet enough.’
Customer: ‘FINE. You know, you’ve been really unhelpful to me.’
What gives? She was too dumb to understand that I couldn’t make her drink with sugar in it for her. She thought she knew better than me what should be in our drinks. She rejected the concept of adding sugar afterward, and refuse to try a flavored syrup. Then she complained that I hadn’t been helpful enough. I genuinely don’t know what she wanted from me.
She came back in a few hours later, and when she saw I was still working, she was rude and gave me death stares the entire time. It’s not my fault she’s a dumb customer!”
All Of The Baristas Know They’re In Trouble When She Walks In
“We have a girl who drives us crazy. I guess you could classify her drink as a cappuccino, but there’s absolutely no milk in it. It’s all foam and it has to be bone dry. Like turn a spoon upside down and it stays. It’s two shots and some mysterious amount of vanilla flavor. If you make it even a smidge wrong, she asks you to remake it. This would be fine except she doesn’t know how to articulate what’s wrong with it. A common interaction between her and a new person on the bar goes like this:
Her: ‘Do you need me to explain my drink to you?’
Barista (looking at her order): ‘No. It’s pretty straight forward in the directions.’
Her (takes a sip): ‘Yeah, this isn’t my drink! This is sweet milk.’
Barista: ‘Oh, ok. Maybe I added too much vanilla. Do you know exactly how much you want?’
Her: ‘I don’t know what’s in it. They just know how to make my drink right!’
At that point, she always calls over a veteran and has us make her drink. That’s right. A customer tries to redeploy my baristas because she can’t be bothered to know the recipe for her super high-maintenance drink.”
An Old Man Complaining About The Cost Of Coffee?
“Do you all remember the summer of 2008? You know, the summer where gas prices were obscenely high (I remember paying $4 a gallon) and everyone complained about it? Let’s take a trip to that summer.
So I was working at Dunkin’ Donuts, and to accommodate everything that was going on in the economy, we decided to raise the prices across the board. It wasn’t anything too ridiculous (most coffee maybe increased by $0.20 at most), so most people didn’t even notice it.
Except for Stupid Old Man (SOM).
It was a busy day at the drive-thru and I was cashing people out. A few people had commented on the inflated prices, and my usual response was along the lines of, ‘That’s the economy for you!’ Most people were fine about it, but SOM was not having that.
SOM: ‘Why did the prices increase?’
Me: ‘The economy has been pretty bad lately, so we’re trying to make up for the increased prices we pay for things by slightly increasing the prices of our products. We need to make back the money somehow.’
SOM: ‘Don’t blame the economy on this! You know it’s because you’re trying to nickel and dime us!’
Me: ‘I’m certainly not trying to nickel and dime anyone. I don’t own Dunkin’ Donuts, and I think it stinks that we have to raise the prices, but it is because of the economy.’
SOM: ‘That’s bull.’
Me: ‘No, it’s not. You know how gas prices have increased exponentially? Have you ever seen the 18-wheelers that deliver all of our products to us? Those cost hundreds of dollars to fill and they come here twice a week. Before they come here, they come from another place which means that they have to travel, which in turn, costs a lot of money. Then our coffee is flown in, which also costs a ridiculous amount of money. So yes, the increased prices are a direct result of the bad economy right now.
SOM: grumble grumble grumble
Me: ‘Have a nice day!'”
How Can You Be Offended By Sign Language?
“Let me make one thing clear first: other than a few minor annoyances that occur, such as managerial drama or broken machines, I generally enjoy my cafe job and I like about 90% of my regulars.
This woman falls into that 10% of the I-want-to-remove-you-from-existence category.
Now, I have a lot of groups that come into my cafe on a regular basis, some rowdier than others but they all will quiet down if I ask them nicely and have actually apologized to me for being disruptive.
The ironically worst offender for sudden bouts of noise is my American Sign Language group. By that, I mean it’s lots of hand signs and then a huge sudden roar of laughter. I mean like 30-45 minutes of quiet and then someone signs a joke. Not bad at all and they have gotten a lot better about it.
It was a Thursday night, they were in and it had been almost silent the entire night, no jokes today which was fine. I’ve nearly leaped out of my skin a time or two being caught off guard.
In came the crusty in question that needed a serious head check. I call her the Crazy Lady. In my two and a half years there, she has never once ever actually bought something. It’s always a cup of hot water and a cup of ice water. No idea why she needs both, but I always smile and give her what she wants if only to get her away from me.
About an hour later, she came up to me and asked if she could speak to a manager. The conversation went something like this:
Me: ‘Is there something I can help you with?’
CL: ‘Yes, I need to talk to your manager, please. It’s about the group over there,’ as she pointed to my ASL group.
Me: ‘Let me get her for you,’ as I paged my manager over the headset.
Manager Sandi: ‘What can I do for you?’
CL: ‘Can you get them to be a little quieter? I’m trying to read, and they are just being really disruptive. And I’m having a hard time right now, and that woman, the lady that runs the lessons, is talking about her ex-husband and how he would beat her, and I just can’t stand to listen to this.’
MS: ‘Well, there is nothing I can do other than ask them to be quiet. This is not a library and this is a public place. I can’t make them leave.’
The crazy lady walked off muttering to herself.
Why was she even listening to the conversation in the first place if it makes her so uncomfortable? Why not just, I dunno, SIT SOMEWHERE ELSE? I’ve got chairs all over this store and they are much more comfortable than the ones in the café! Just move!
Ugh, I’ll never understand people.”