9 tips for ordering at Starbucks

Published by adviser, Author: Kelsey Phillips - Rocket Contributor, Date: September 17, 2014

Ah, fall. It’s a little early, but we are about to enter the seasons of giving and gratitude, hoodies and football, and sniffles and cold hands. What better hot topic to discuss around this time than…coffee. Some love it, some hate it. PSL lovers rejoice – this one is for you.

Originally I wanted to get the buttery perspective from Starbucks’ baristas about their tips on ordering during their busiest season, but since I couldn’t pull them away from the coffee steeper (they are highly demanded people, you know) I will give you my opinions on the questions we are all wondering.

1. What is the least crowded time of the day?

HA, least busy. Caffeine never sleeps. At opening, people are falling asleep at the gates, incompetent until they receive their liquid gold. Common hour? More like caffeine hour. From 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. you will find yourself only five lattes deep into a line that snakes past the welcome desk. Near closing, people are falling asleep at the gates yet again, in desperate need of a late night pick-me-up that isn’t more Red Bull.

2. Can customers ask the baristas for recommendations or to explain certain coffees?

Upside-down double shot caramel apple frappa-what? The answer is yes. Now I would not go as far as asking for a tasting sample of the entire menu, but especially if you are a coffee virgin, have food allergies or special dietary needs or just want to mix it up – don’t hesitate to ask. After all, it is your money and your misspelled name on that cup.

3. By the way, how difficult is it to spell names correctly?

Very. After Abby, Abbey, Abbie, Shawn, Shane, Ryan and Ryanne, please (silently) forgive whoever it was that spelled your name without the correct vowel. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you or you aren’t special (because we all know you are). It means they are trying so hard to make everyone feel special and are surrounded by so much caffeine that their hands move rather quickly. I for one take much more appreciation for the ones that go the extra mile and draw smileys or heart doodles on my cup. (Kelsie with an –ie is much cuter when there is a big fat smiley face next to it). And don’t forget, some coffee shops don’t write anything on your cup (the audacity!).

4. In what sequence do baristas prefer our order (e.g. size, type, add-ins)?

The way I (politely) ask for my order, and what seems to be the most common is:

Size – short, tall, grande, venti

Temperature – You don’t need to be super specific here, “I’d like a tall, 97-degree caramel mocha.” A simple hot or iced will do.

Type – coffee or tea

Add-ins (or outs) – a shot of espresso, two pumps of mocha syrup, extra caramel drizzle, hold the whip

5. How do baristas feel when customers talk about the “Starbucks Secret Menu?”

First rule of the Starbucks Secret Menu – don’t talk about the Starbucks Secret Menu. I know, I know. A chocolate-covered strawberry cake batter frappuccino just sounds too good to pass up. But this isn’t a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. It’s reasonable to ask for an additional syrup flavor or another add-in, but when you turn a four-step beverage into a 15-step recipe, I bet they hold their breath.

6. What would be the weirdest order a barista has been asked to make?


7. Are they as excited about the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) as we are?

Uhm, yes. Once you make a drink so many times it becomes so natural you could make it with your eyes closed. Then, by the time you have mastered it, you won’t have to make it again for ten more months. Plus it comes in iced form, for when the weather decides to warm back up in the middle of October (thank you, Indian summer).

8. What is a barista’s favorite drink to order at Starbucks?

If I were a barista, I think my favorite drink would be the peanut butter crunch frappuccino. Oh wait, they don’t have one. Can we get someone on that, please?

9. How can customers make it more enjoyable for the baristas?

Say please and thank you. Smile. Be patient. Say your order slowly and clearly. If you are insistent on your name being correct, spell it out loud. Heck, even if they can’t spell your name you should address them by theirs (they are human, and they do wear name tags). Tell their boss how great they are because you are no longer cold, tired or grumpy because of their hard work and be grateful for that, not just this season but always.

Until next time, butter lovers.



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