40 Stories Showing That Baristas Deserve Better Pay and Bigger Tips
Like most hospitality jobs, the life of a barista comes with more than its fair share of experiences that would make anybody’s eyes roll. From elaborate orders to unruly customers, each day comes with its own challenges and oddities.
Beyond the complexities of modern coffee orders, a barista’s biggest challenge is dealing with the weirdest and nastiest customers. To prove this point, we’ve gathered 40 stories that will make you want to hug the next barista you see and give them a huge tip.
When Customers Are Never at Fault
Some customers take the saying, “the customer is always right,” too seriously, as proven by this barista’s experience. This customer thought it was okay to blame the barista even though the barista did not have anything to do with the incident.
The customer’s daughter spilled coffee all over her shoes. Not only was she blaming the barista for it, but she was also demanding that the barista give her daughter a new pair of shoes to replace the pair her daughter ruined!
When Adult Customers Throw Toddler Tantrums
Pregnancy wreaks havoc on a woman’s hormones, which can result in weird cravings and emotional outbursts. Unfortunately, some customers think these hormone shifts are a good excuse to blame a barista for something that’s out of their control – like when they run out of the pumpkin muffins a pregnant woman is craving.
The worst part is that aside from the pregnant woman throwing tantrums in the coffee shop, the husband also joined in and screamed at the barista as if the world was going to end if his wife didn’t eat those muffins.
When Customers Engage in PDA
Just because it’s a coffee shop doesn’t mean you need to order coffee. In this barista’s experience, a group of teenagers can survive on nothing but water and whipped cream. But, as it turns out, they don’t opt for this combo because they dislike caffeine.
These teenagers enjoy licking whipped cream off each other – publicly – inside a coffee shop. Of course, they can do what they want as long as no other patron complains about it. However, some people would find this behavior so off-putting they wouldn’t even walk into that coffee shop!
When a Customer’s Dog Runs Loose
We’re not sure how well dogs and coffee mix, but in this scenario, it seems that it was not a very good combination. It was unlucky that this happened the same day an inspector dropped by to check how things were going.
Just as the manager ushered the inspector to one end of the cafe, a pug came tearing through the customer line. Blame it on the smell of coffee, or blame it on the owner, but the chaos that ensued did not make the boss happy.
When a Customer Is an Ungrateful Parent
It’s normal to have parents taking their kids with them to coffee shops. What’s not normal, however, is having a child choke on a piece of apple while the parent does nothing but shout at the kid instead of helping him out.
The barista decides to step in and perform the Heimlich maneuver, saving the child’s life. However, instead of being grateful, the parent had the audacity to file a complaint, accusing the barista of assault.
When a Customer’s Coffee Is Foamy
It’s unbelievable how mad customers can get when they find something wrong with their order. While most would complain or speak to a manager, some just jump into a tantrum. In this case, the customer threw her no-foam latte at the barista’s face just because she spotted a single milk bubble.
Saying that the customer overreacted is an understatement. It’s a good thing the incident happened in the airport, so the TSA was able to take the customer in for assault.
When a Customer Hurls Insults
Speaking of wrong orders, while most people would never throw coffee at a barista’s face, some are happy to be rude and condescending. They often see people in the hospitality industry as beneath them without thinking that these baristas are working hard to make money (and great coffee).
When this barista got a customer’s morning coffee wrong, she apologized and quickly made a new cup of coffee – the right one this time. But instead of just taking the coffee, the customer sneered at the barista and proceeded to insult her.
When the Customer is Overly Independent
There’s a good reason that only baristas can operate the coffee machine in any coffee shop. It’s because those machines spurt out boiling liquid that could cause serious injury if not handled by a professional.
Unfortunately, this overly independent customer wanted to make her coffee all by herself. So she proceeded to push buttons and pull levels, only to have boiling coffee spray out of the machines and onto a poor barista.
When a Customer Orders 46 Lattes
Some customers order a ton of coffee. That’s understandable, especially if you’re ordering for an entire group. It creates a lot of work and effort for the barista, but that’s what they’re there for, right? Of course, if you order 46 lattes, it’s still reasonable to give the hardworking barista a tip.
Sadly, it seems that this specific customer didn’t appreciate the time the barista spent fulfilling their massive order because they left no tip. That’s right, a non-existent tip for a barista who just created 46 lattes for a single customer.
When Customers Have High Standards
We hear the most elaborate coffee orders sometimes and wonder why these customers choose to speak an alien language just to order a cup of joe. Although baristas are often okay with unique requests, there are a few weird ones that get on their nerves.
Take the married couple in this story, for instance. Not only did they insist on having their orders exactly as they wanted them, but they also double-checked everything (and even resorted to ruining the foam art just to see if the temperature, the bubble consistency, and other details were done right).
When the Customer’s Car Gets Stuck
There are regular customers that baristas love. But there are also times when a regular makes them inwardly groan each time the customer walks through the door. In this customer’s case, he demands 16 pumps of hazelnut syrup in every cup of coffee he orders – but he never leaves a tip.
One day, this regular customer’s car got stuck at the coffee shop drive-thru because of a snowstorm. Despite the customer’s bad reputation, the barista ran out and pushed the customer’s car free. Yup, you guessed it – still no tips.
When the Customer is Allergic
It’s normal for coffee to have different flavor profiles depending on where it is sourced and roasted. Flavor profiles are not ingredients; they are notes that your palate picks up when you drink certain types of coffee.
It’s understandable if a customer starts to panic, especially if they detect a taste that they know they’re allergic to – in this case, grapefruit. But this customer decided to go on a full-blown rampage because he assumed that flavor notes are the same as ingredients.
When the Customer Wonders Why They Have to Pay for Products
When you get a product from a store, it’s a given that you’re supposed to pay for it. But this customer started questioning the barista, demanding to know why she had to pay for steamed milk. The barista was very patient in explaining that because she provided a product and a service, it’s only fair that the customer pays for it.
But for the customer, it doesn’t make sense for her to pay for steamed milk when she sees the baristas regularly throw out leftover milk. We guess that makes sense inside the lady’s head, but it leaves us scratching our own heads, to be honest.
When Customers Steal Tips
We already know how underpaid many hospitality workers are and how much they look forward to receiving tips from customers. So it’s no surprise that this barista got excited when she saw her customer put a $5 bill into the tip jar, which doesn’t happen that often.
Then, another customer entered and put their hand deep into the tip jar. Initially, the barista thought this person left a tip as well. But when she noticed the $5 bill was missing, she realized the customer had stolen money from the tip jar!
When a Customer Leaves a Lobster Behind
Anyone would think it’s a prank if a customer tells the barista there’s a lobster in the bathroom. But when the barista realized there was an actual lobster in the toilet, she had to wonder how it got there!
Apparently, someone stole the lobster from a supermarket nearby and dumped it in the coffee shop’s toilet. One of the baristas took it home and turned it into dinner, though, so it turned out to be a win for the coffee shop workers in the end (though it does sound unhygienic).
When the Customer Expects More for Their Money
Times are tough, and some customers just don’t have the money for coffee. In this barista’s experience, the customer admitted right from the start that they did not have enough money for a large cappuccino.
Of course, the barista still offered a few options that would fit the amount of money the customer had. But it turned out the customer was still expecting a large cappuccino even though he didn’t have the money to pay for it!
When Customers Throw Things
Some barista stories are just straightforward and do not need an extensive backstory. For example, some customers just want to throw things – enough said.
Of course, the biggest problem here is that these customers also tend to throw the same scalding hot coffee that the barista just made for them. When they throw in an insult or two for good measure, they prove that the things baristas have to put up with are unbelievable.
When Customers Think All Coffee Shops Are Starbucks
Starbucks has become such a popular name for the caffeine-drinking public that some assume all coffee shops they step into are part of the popular franchise.
Because of this assumption, some customers ask for the usual drinks they’d order at Starbucks, like Venti frappuccinos. But you know you’ve got the worst type of customer when she insists on paying using her Starbucks app even if there isn’t any sign that the place she’s ordering coffee from is a Starbucks.
When Customers Think They Know Coffee Better
Here’s another case of a customer assuming that they are always right. Between the customer and the barista, it’s a given that the barista probably knows coffee better (unless the customer also has extensive coffee training).
In this case, the customer insisted on having a cappuccino with no milk, though the barista had already explained that the basic ingredients of a cappuccino are coffee and milk. So when the barista proceeded to give the customer an Americano (which is kind of like a cappuccino minus milk when you think about it), the customer just threw the whole thing into the trash.
When a Customer Leaves a Mess
The thing about working in a coffee shop is that you don’t just make coffee. You also make sure the rest of the place is clean. So when a customer tells you that someone left a mess in the bathroom, it’s your responsibility. You’d hope that the person just didn’t flush properly, but as this story proves, life is not always so easy for baristas.
The poor barista had to deal with an unholy mess in the bathroom. We won’t repeat what that customer did, but suffice to say the barista was traumatized by the incident.
When a Customer Wants Manual Drip
Coffee can be made in so many ways, with each one producing different flavors that customers enjoy. Of course, some of these require more effort and can take up a lot of time – manual drip coffee being one of them.
When a customer keeps dropping by during peak morning hours demanding a manual drip, it’s understandable for the barista to get frustrated. Thankfully, this coffee shop stopped making v60 coffee before 10 am; at least the barista taking the early shift won’t have to worry about delays caused by a single customer.
When a Customer Pees Her Pants
Yes, baristas genuinely have seen everything. In this story, a customer wet her pants right in front of the barista. Maybe the customer wanted to keep her place in line, thinking she could hold it in until after she ordered.
When the customer asked for a towel, the barista only had one they used to clean the place up. That made the customer mad, probably because she was thinking about the dirt on it. But what did she expect? Did she think the baristas would be prepared for people peeing at the counter?
When a Customer Throws in a Kiss
Some customers just don’t have any respect for personal boundaries. Some make inappropriate comments, while others feel like they own the barista just because they paid for their coffee.
But when a customer kisses the barista to show appreciation for the latter art on her coffee, you’d start to wonder whether this person thinks she’s being cute. It’s not cute if you ask us because baristas do not deserve harassment like this. Consent matters!
When the Customer Is a Snob
Some customers will always think they’re better than everyone else just because they’ve had a few unique experiences. For example, think about people who smirk at sushi sold in the US just because they’ve traveled to Tokyo before.
In this case, we’ve got a customer who assumes that he’ll be disappointed no matter what his coffee choice is just because he spent a year in Italy. What a snob!
When a Customer Doesn’t Like the Status Quo
No matter where you go, most coffee shops have the same system – the customer lines up, orders coffee, pays for it, then waits for the barista to call their name out once their orders are ready. Even your local Starbucks does the same thing.
This customer approached the baristas in this coffee shop and told them it was downright rude and disrespectful for them to yell out the orders. We wonder whether it was this lady’s first time entering a coffee shop. That’s the only excuse we can come up with for her behavior!
When a Customer Wants the “Regular”
Different people have different coffee preferences. What tastes rich and delicious to one person probably won’t be as appealing to another. But once you develop your own coffee palate, you’ll have an order your favorite baristas will get to know by heart.
Unfortunately, the customer in this story doesn’t understand this concept, as he insisted on ordering a “regular.” He obviously wasn’t a regular customer because the barista had to ask questions to find out what coffee he wanted. But when the barista handed over the most “regular” coffee possible, the customer got mad. Go figure.
When the Customer Hands Over a Fistful of Change
Customers pay using their spare change all the time, and that’s okay. It’s still money. So when this guy handed over a fistful of change, the barista willingly took it. Counting all those pennies took time and held the lineup, but what choice did the barista have?
When the barista told the customer that he still needed 11 cents, he took out a 20-dollar bill and ordered an additional panini. Why did the customer have to make the barista count all those coins if he had a 20-dollar bill all along? We’re just as confused.
When a Customer Doesn’t Understand Science
It’s a given – some customers just have weird requests. Baristas put up with these requests all the time. But when a customer asks for a hot drink in a chilled glass, you’d need to explain some scientific basics to avoid any accidents, like the glass shattering right in the customer’s hands.
This customer insisted on having things her way. She even demanded that she be the one to add every flavoring so she could be sure her coffee would turn out the right way. Maybe she should’ve just fixed her own coffee at home.
When a Customer Doesn’t Care if the Coffee is His or Not
Let’s go over this process again: You order something, the barista makes it, then the barista calls out your name to tell you that your order is ready. Basic, right? Unfortunately, for this customer, that process just doesn’t add up.
He grabbed the next coffee the barista brought out, even though the barista called out a different name. The crazy customer then bolted out the door when called out on what he did. He does know that the coffee he took was probably different from the coffee he ordered, right?
When a Customer Still Tastes Chai
Chai has become a popular choice among tea drinkers looking for that unique taste. Chai lattes are made of black tea with spices and foamed milk, but what’s distinctive about its taste is the cinnamon.
So when this lady ordered a vanilla latte with cinnamon, the barista assumed she knew how it would end up tasting. On cue, she complained that she received a chai latte instead of the vanilla latte she ordered. Kudos to the barista, who was patient enough to remake the customer’s drink (only for her to make the same complaint).
When Customers Seem to Love Leaving a Mess in the Bathroom
Here’s another bathroom horror story. The barista had already been informed that a customer had left a massive mess in the bathroom. But because the barista didn’t have time to take care of the mess yet, she left a sign on the bathroom door that it was out of order. She even blocked it with a few tables and chairs to ensure no one else went in.
Not only did other customers ignore these signs, but they also proceeded to get their feet into all the mess and spread it around the coffee shop. They spread it all the way out to the sidewalk. Gross!
When the Customer Offers an Apology
Here’s one for the books – a customer who apologized for being wrong. The customer insisted on having the barista steam the cinnamon powder and the milk. Otherwise, it wouldn’t taste the way they wanted it. The barista told them this was not good practice because it could clog their machine, but the customer got mad, so the barista ended up doing it anyway.
The amazing thing was that the customer returned another day and told the barista that he had been wrong and apologized. We wish all cranky customers were like this!
When a Barista Shares Yet Another Toilet Horror Story
Toilet horror stories are common among baristas. In this scenario, a little girl was nice enough to ask permission from the barista (who was cleaning the bathroom) to use one of the toilets.
Putting aside the fact that an adult should have accompanied the child, the barista had to clean up the massive mess the kid made! Maybe the parents thought the child’s cuteness would make it all okay.
When the Customer Likes Throwing Coins Around
Most customers leave their money in the barista’s hand. Some leave it on the counter. But you know what the rude, annoying ones do? They throw it at the barista.
This customer seems to think that what he did was okay because he failed to apologize and even criticized the barista for not holding their hands up correctly! And he’s the one complaining that the barista was a sour puss?
When the Customer Wants Extra Hot Coffee
Some customers complain when their coffee doesn’t taste how they want it. But this man complained when his coffee was not as scalding hot as he wanted.
The guy wanted his coffee to be painfully hot. Convinced that what the barista made was not enough for a 3rd-degree burn, he proceeded to pour the coffee onto his arm (and onto the floor) to prove his point.
When Customers Think the Tip Jar Is for Everyone
Earlier, we had a tip thief who stole money from the tip jar. Well, here’s another one, and this time, the guys had the gall to do it openly just to make up for the fact that his payment was 10 cents short.
The guy used a gift card to pay for his order, but the amount on the gift card wasn’t enough, so he decided to take 10 cents from the jar. Since when did people start thinking that the tip jar was for public consumption?
When Customers Are Scammers
Coffee shops with drive-thru windows make it easier for people going to work to grab their coffee quicker. If you work these drive-thru windows early in the morning, you’ll know that most customers are too sleepy to make any trouble.
But this one thought it was okay to scam the drive-thru barista. The guy complained that his coffee was cold and demanded to have it replaced. The problem is, he bought that coffee the day before! To make things worse, he even threw the coffee at the barista!
When the Customer Doesn’t Understand His Own Order
This story is proof that some customers order things they don’t understand. This man ordered a double chocolate muffin. An average person would know that this means it will contain double the amount of chocolate.
This man inexplicably complained that his muffin was too chocolatey. Talk about someone complaining that he got his money’s worth!
When the Customer Loves Honey
We all have quirks we indulge when we’re at home. Licking the lid of the honey container, for example, is quite normal, especially when there’s some extra honey dripping from it.
But would you do that in a coffee shop where other people also get honey from the same jar? Not only is this extremely disgusting behavior, but it’s also highly unhygienic.
When the Customer Has Weird Health Habits
We end this list with another odd customer request. A guy asked the barista to add ice cubes to his Americano. Okay, that’s normal enough. But his reason is what made the whole thing weird – he believed this would help him reduce his chances of getting mouth cancer.
You know what’s funny? This man, who seems outrageously concerned about his health, went on to pour 17 artificial sweetener packets into the cup. Now, that’s the very definition of irony.