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What would we do without our baristas? The chipper people who make our coffee shop experience delightful. In honor of National Coffee Day, September 29, 2021, we asked our local baristas for insight into making a better coffee house experience for all. Coffee shop popularity shines a light on local culture as well as modern manners. What are the unwritten rules? Next time you find yourself in a coffee shop, consider these tips for best practices.

  1. Have your order ready: Make your decision before you get to the counter. Not sure? Politely let the person in line behind you go ahead while you finish browsing the menu. Most people know what they want to order, and the baristas are in ‘the zone’ (especially during the morning rush), so it will be appreciated by all.
  2. Pre-Payment: Order online or have your card or cash ready for the Barista when it’s your turn. Cash transactions are time consuming and not the preferred payment method. Order ahead online where possible.
  3. Customized drinks:  With special coffees or teas, speak clearly and slowly so the barista hears your order accurately. If you need to make a correction, be polite and warm. Request “with room” if you plan to add dairy to avoid pouring off liquid later.
  4. Large drink orders: With large orders, don’t be surprised when customers arriving after you receive their orders before you do. Baristas start and complete an entire order before starting another – so be patient.
  5. What’s in a name? Yes, names are important; however, when baristas are scrambling to listen over loud music and lively conversation, sometimes a name can be lost in translation. ‘Mindy’ can become ‘Cindy’ or ‘Mandy’ so be resilient, smile and enjoy your beverage.
  6. Mobile phones: When it is time to order, stay off the mobile phone. It is difficult for the Barista to understand your request when two conversations occur simultaneously.
  7. Small Talk: While it is nice to get to know your local barista, be mindful of their time, especially if there is a line behind you. Keep the small talk and pleasantries to a minimum so they can keep it moving.
  8. Beverage collection: Make space for your coffee colleagues to collect their beverage. When your order is ready, before touching the cup, confirm it is yours and read the cup name.
  9. Spills: If you spill coffee, please alert the barista. Bumping into black coffee on the counter edge isn’t a pleasant way to start the day. Especially with large floor spills, alert an employee to avoid a slip and fall injury.
  10. Cup too full: If you need to empty liquid from your cup, put the lid on, and ask the barista to pour off the extra. Avoid pouring it in the trash because stir-sticks puncture plastic bags. Slippery floors are hazardous.

In Austin, we adore our local coffee hangouts like Joe’s or Mozart’s, where the pastries and Lake Austin view are as cherished as the artful coffee designs. What is your favorite local coffee shop? Let us know so we can pop in next time we are in the area.

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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