a message to you, RUDE-y

dear irate customer,

first i'd like to tell you the combination foot stomp and fist shake was brilliant. sure, i've seen people stamp their feet before - and just last week i had an old guy raise his fist in the air because he now has to pay an extra nickel for his coffee - but never before have i seen both moves so gracefully executed at the same time. truly, it was like poetry in motion.

even though this was not the first time i've seen your performance (i must say the morning of september 12th you were truly on form)i was still appreciative of the intensity and passion you display each and every time we "retards" ruin your day. i must admit i was slightly disappointed last time you decided to forego your usual tirade when we neglected to put ice in your water, settling for a singular grunt instead, but today you more than made up for it.

truth be told, i thought you were losing your touch when you called me an idiot because our store no longer carries your beloved anniversary blend. it seemed as if you'd peaked weeks earlier, but you dug deep and found that fire burning within. "idiot" was followed "useless", "lazy" and "degenerate". then came the fist shake and the foot stomp (the bulging neck vein was a nice touch) before you stormed out of the store.

believe me, your set did not dissapoint - to our sheer delight, and almost as if you could hear the resounding cries of "encore!" you walked back into bux and gave us a final earful:

"i'm sick of you idiots! you have no idea how to run a business! i'm NEVER coming back - you hear me? never!"

at first i was saddened by your promise to stay away, but then realized it was just your way of making sure your fans are left wanting more, much like cher and her million farewell tours. really, a talent such as you can't ever be retired.


barista brat

partner rant: you know i don't place the orders, so why did you pull me off the floor to grill be about grande hot cups? i'm sure you were upset when we received twice as many boxes as we needed. maybe you just needed to blow off steam, but getting pissy with me was the wrong thing to do. especially when i pointed out the order was placed on a day i didn't even work. too bad we don't serve humble pie at bux.


see you on the other side

a barista spend most their time behind the counter. whether we're on register, on bar, turning over the pastry case or prepping frappuccinos, there's normally a barrier between us baristas and the customers. when we do venture out from behind the counter it's usually to restock the condiment bar and clean the lobby.

it's at these times customers believe we baristas are "fair game". as long as you're in the lobby, you belong to them. it doesn't matter if you're mopping up a spill or if you have a toilet brush in your hand. customers will want your help and will stay glued to your side until they are satisfied.

and it starts so innocently:
you'll be filling the sugar containers and a customer will ask you for help finding a particular roast.
no problem.
you walk them over to the bean display and hand them the desired pound of coffee. you think you can go back to the sugar containers but the customer has you in her clutches and she's not letting go. she wants you to design a gift package for her niece/co-worker/hairdresser. it doesn't matter that there's a line out the door and only two partners on the floor. it doesn't matter that bux does not employ personal shoppers. it only matters that she wants a particular mug with a matching gift card and tough luck if your bux doesn't carry that mug - she'll demand you call every store in your district looking for one.

you can be on a ladder changing light bulbs and a customer will ask you to climb down so he can spend ten minutes complaining about the service he got at a different bux five years prior and how he'd had sworn off bux until one day he woke up with a craving for an orange mocha chip frappuccino only to find bux no longer makes them. then he'll want to know why bux no longer makes them, if there's a way to make a poor man's version and if he can have the direct line to Orin Smith so that he can petition for the return of the orange mocha chip frappuccino.

or you might be wheeling the trash out and a lonely (or even loony) customer will want to bend your ear because no one else will listen to them.

i'll be honest - there is safety behind the counter.

barista rant: please don't use our bathroom as a hook-up spot. people poop in there! our toilet is not a "romance room" no matter what your hormones are telling you. the people banging on the door were not cheering you on - they were desperate to relieve their bladders. please have sex somewhere else, ok?


a barista in need...

newbies can be annoying in the beginning, and some partners are just plain mad at the world, but for the most part bux baristas are a pretty tight group. we may not all be best mates, but we do look out and care for each other. so when something bad happens to one of our own, we rally around to help.

sometimes it's as simple as giving a fellow barista rides to and from work when their car is in the shop. sometimes tragedy befalls someone and you'll find yourself volunteering to cover shifts for a partner who has suffered a miscarriage. no matter how big or small one's issue might be, we baristas do our best to help.

at my old bux we had a partner who had one foot out of the cafe but after a serious sit down talk with the manager he did a full 180. he'd turned into a near model barista but after a full month of dress code compliance, no cash overages/shortages and a couple MUG awards this partner pulled a no-show.
concerned, we called his cell phone numerous times. three hours after he was supposed to clock in he finally called us. turns out his house had burned to the ground just before dawn and he'd spent the morning talking to the fire chief, settling his family into a hotel and calling the insurance company (his parents spoke only broken english). my bux felt terrible and immediately pulled together to help him. some of us donated our tips or bought gift cards. others donated work clothes and groceries. we baristas cheerfully helped him out in any way possible.

this partner lasted only about another two months at bux. although very appreciative of our help he soon returned to his old ways of showing up late, messing up his till and forgetting to bring his hat and apron. he ended up being a no call/no show for a full week - sealing his status as a "terminated partner".
we later learned there was no fire. his family wasn't racking up hotel bills, nor were they clothesless or possessionless. he made the whole thing up because he'd overslept and he didn't want to get a third strike.

did it suck to find out he'd been lying?
it sure did.
did it change our attitudes about helping our fellow baristas when they are in need?
not a chance.

barista rant: you ordered ONE venti frappuccino. you asked me to split it into FOUR tall cups. so why did you complain that all four cups weren't filled to the top? why did you accuse me of "shorting" you? even after i did the math for you and explained that ONE twenty-four ounce drink is not equal to FOUR twelve ounce drinks, you still insisted i give you what you "paid for". guess what? your bullying won't get you free frappuccinos. know why? because i insist you get what you pay for.



one of the best things about working at bux is getting to know our regular customers. it's really great knowing they come into my store, not just for the caffeine but for the service. i've been invited to birthday parties, graduations and house warmings. i've been given christmas presents, books and freshly baked cookies. it makes my day to know i've made someone else's day.

sometimes though, we baristas get unwanted attention from customers. two of my fellow baristas were stalked by enamored coffee drinkers and a barista buddy had to talk to the cops because he was being harassed. most of the time, however, it's just a matter of baristas being adopted by lonely customers.

today was such a day for me. a woman came in asking for a regular coffee. she was unstable on her feet and slurred heavily. i figured she was either drunk or disabled. as if she'd read my mind she blurted out "i'm not a drinker!".
"ok," i answered back.
"everbody thinksh i'm drunk becaush i shlur. but i talk like thish when i'm tired." she informed me.
"ok," i said again, not really sure of what else i should say.
"yesh, thatsh why i wear thish." she pointed to an AA pin on her lapel. "but people shtill think i'm drunk."
"oh wow." i still had no idea what to say.
"jusht the other day two women called me a drunken shlob!" she continued, "but i jusht ignored them, 'caush you know what?"
"what?" i asked out of politeness.
"becaush they were..." she leaned over the counter and whispered, "becaush they were foreignersh."

at this point i started to slowly back away. i really didn't want to get into a conversation about "foreignersh" or "immigrantsh".

still leaning over the counter she continued, "you know how theshe foreignersh can be, right? they act ash if they own thish country!"

"oh," i said and continued to walk away from her. it was obvious she was going to talk my ear off until i was out of sight.
"whatsh your name?" she asked me while still practically climbing over the counter.
"brat." i responded and took another step towards the backroom.
"your really nishe, brat. where are you from? do you work every day? you're sho eashy to talk to!"
"oh...thanks. have a great day!" i was hoping she's say "shee ya later" but she still wanted to talk to me.
"what makesh your coffee sho good? it tashtes better than sheven-eleven."

luckily my barista buddy helped me out.
"hey brat, they need you in the backroom." he lied so that i could escape.
"it looksh like your busy, brat. i'll shee you nexsht time! we can talk shome more." she called out before leaving my bux.
"brat has a new best friend!" barista buddy teased me. "and she doesn't take too kindly to foreigners!"

customer rant: i know how much it sucks when someone spills a drink and you're busy on bar. but throwing them some towels and telling them to clean it up themselves is unacceptable. and when they'd finished mopping up the mess you gave them attitude and called out "hello! are you just going to leave the towels there?". guess what? cleaning up messes and spills is YOUR job. EVERY barista has had to clean up a customer's mess, so suck it up and start mopping.


invisible jerks

when i started my shift yesterday the assistant manager warned me that "everybody is a jerk today!". apparently something was in the air and his morning was filled with grumpy customers and their demon offspring. my first ten minutes on the floor were spent listening to him complain about every customer that rubbed him raw. their offences ranged from not saying "thank you" to suggesting he find a "more experienced" barista to help him on bar.

i guess that's the reason why he couldn't find time to prep or clean for the closers. i guess that's why he decided to spend the last hour of his shift in the backroom and i guess that's why he couldn't be bothered to say good-bye to us when he left for the day.

so, although i had twice as much to prep and twice as much to clean, amazingly i had ZERO customers with attitude. not a one! there were no complaints of "i didn't order it like that!", "this tastes burnt" or "you're taking too long".
i guess i could have deduced that all the idiot customers ordered their coffee earlier in the day and i just hit the cool customer jackpot, but i'm pretty sure the reason my assistant manager had so many complaints was because he is very complaint worthy. he's only been at my bux for a couple weeks and already he is becoming a legend - or should i say "infamous".

partner rant: i understand you're having an off day. i did everything in my power to let you go home three hours early, even though it meant i was running a person short. in exchange for letting you go home and deal with your drama, i asked you to stock the bathroom and condiment bar before you left. it was a task that would have taken you ten minutes tops. so why did you lie to me and tell me that everything was stocked? not ten minutes after you went home a customer informed me that there were no paper towels or toilet paper in the bathroom. mind you, i was in the middle of stocking the condiment bar. you know - the one you supposedly had taken care of.


customer concoctions

this week has been crazy as far as personalized drinks.
here are some of my favorites (and when i say "favorites" i mean "drinks i hated making").

the "half mocha/half coffee frappuccino"
- a mocha frappuccino is a coffee frappuccino that has chocolate syrup added to it. so when the customer asked for a "half mocha/half coffee frappuccino" we figured she wanted half the amount of chocolate added to the mixture...but we were wrong. we were very wrong. what the customer wanted was for us to fill the bottom half of her cup with mocha frappuccino and the top half with coffee frappuccino. she was insistent the mocha frappuccino was on the bottom, which meant we had to make two separate frappuccinos for one drink. if she'd wanted coffee on the bottom we would have been able to add chocolate to the rest of the frappuccino and placed the mocha on top but of course this was unacceptable for her.

the "shaving cream foam espresso macchiato"
- we have a customer who is very particular about his foam. he doesn't want it just thick, he wants it "shaving cream" thick. he will insist a partner make his espresso macchiato over and over until he deems it worthy to grace his esophagus. of course the whole time we're making his drink he repeats "shaving cream thick! shaving cream thick!" like it's his personal mantra.

the "seven second frappuccino"
- our frappuccino blenders have two settings. we press "1" for a single drink and "2" if we are blending two drinks. we have a customer who wants us to blend his frappuccino for only seven seconds. he will stand on the other side of the counter and count out loud up to seven. if he feels we lagged on stopping the blender he will insist we make the drink again from scratch, then demand we count out loud with him.

the "iced two shots regular, one shot decaf, each shot pulled separately, venti two pump cinnamon, two pump pumpkin, one pump white mocha, splash of chai, nonfat milk, caramel sauce around the cup, stirred, easy ice with whipped cream and nutmeg latte".
- if this customer's drink "tastes funny" she asks for a free drink coupon. hello! of course her drink "tastes funny"! i can't believe her taste buds still work after drinking one of these a day.

barista rant: i know you're a partner at another store. i know you feel like you're the bomb diggity, but please don't try and "impress" us by ordering your personalized drink so fast we have no idea what you're saying. and when we ask you to repeat it, don't ask how long we've been with bux as if we're newbies who are too slow to understand your idiot order. especially since you are ordering it INCORRECTLY! here's a suggestion: crack open your training guide and learn the lingo before you try and "school" the rest of us.


share and share alike

i don't even know how to preface this one, so i'll just jump right in -

customer: "hey, does starbucks sell stock?"
barista brat: "yeah, we're a publicly traded company."
customer: "so i can buy stock?"
barista brat: "yes, of course."
customer: "ok, what is the stock valued at right now?"
bb: "um, last time i checked it was around 37 or 38 dollars a share."
customer: "oh, do you know if there's a minimum of what you can buy?"
bb: "i think that depends on who you trade with. as far as i know you can buy as many or few shares as you want."
customer: "ok, can i use my credit card? i think i have enough credit left for about a hundred shares."
bb: "uh, excuse me?"
customer : "i want to use my credit card to buy stock. give me a hundred shares."
bb: "sir, we don't sell shares here."
customer: "you just told me that starbucks sells stock!"
bb: "uh...are you serious?"
customer: "look, i want to buy some stock."
bb: "we don't sell shares here. you need to go to a stockbroker."
customer: "so where do i find one?"
bb: "try google."
customer: "oh, do they sell starbucks stock?"

i half expected the guy to say "you've just been punked!" but he didn't. instead he asked the customer behind him where he could find a stockbroker.

barista rant: you emphatically told me you can't have sugar. you asked what the sugar-free options were. i answered all your questions and i even suggested a way to make your drink lower in calories. so what did you do? you went ahead and ordered a sugar-free frappuccino. hello! i already explained that it would be impossible to make a sugar-free frappuccino, but still you insisted on ordering one. when i (again) tell you that ALL frappuccinos have sugar in them, even the ones lighter in calories, you just shrugged your shoulders and responded with a "whatever". why waste everyone's time asking what your sugar-free options are if you're just going to order something with sugar anyway? and why be so emphatic about not having sugar if you are ORDERING A SUGAR-FILLED DRINK?!?


easy as pi

with our recent newbie outbreak there's been A LOT of confusion at bar. wrong recipes, re-steamed milk and old shots are par for the course when training someone new, but i've been shocked at the amount of "seasoned baristas" who have their own special way of making drinks. admittedly bux has some recipes that can make your head spin (seriously - equal pumps of peppermint AND chocolate in a drink! can you say "diabetes in a cup"?) and of course when a newbie thinks they've finally mastered the 3,4,5 syrup recipe, along comes a rush of customers who order the exceptions to the rule.

most newbies will master the bar in a few weeks (but you should see their terrified faces the first time they have to fly solo) and it will become their responsibility to help the more recent newbies learn recipes and food handling procedures. each barista has their own preferred method of remembering how to make drinks. the method taught to me, and which i now pass down to others, was the "latte base" method. basically, most bar drinks are based off of a latte (espresso, steamed milk, topped with foam) so if you know how to make a latte, you can pretty much figure out how to make the rest of the drinks.

example: a cappuccino is a latte with equal parts steamed milk and foam. a vanilla latte is a latte with vanilla. a cafe mocha is a latte with chocolate syrup and whipped cream instead of foam. an eggnog latte is a latte with steamed eggnog instead of steamed milk with nutmeg on top of the foam.

see? simple.
of course there are some drinks that have their own set of rules and these are the drinks many baristas THINK they're making properly, but of course they aren't.

example: a caramel macchiato is a latte with vanilla and caramel on top - except it gets one pump less of vanilla than a regular vanilla latte and the espresso gets poured over the foam (afer the vanilla, milk and foam have been put in the cup).

far too many baristas aren't aware that they are adding too much vanilla, or that they are making the drink "upside down". and the baristas that DO know how to make them correctly usually make the iced venti version incorrectly. just today my new assistant manager tried to ridicule me in front of a newbie because i put only four pumps of vanilla into an iced venti caramel macchiato.

"that's not how you do it!" he rolled his eyes at me. "i was told you were a superstar on bar. why are you teaching her to do it the wrong way?"
"what's wrong about it?" i asked, although i knew full well he was going to make the same mistake most baristas make when it comes to this drink.
"iced venti drinks get an extra pump of syrup!" he exclaimed.
"the iced venti caramel macchiatos don't," i replied.
"yes they do," he put his hand on his hip for emphasis.
"why don't you look it up," i suggested and continued to help the newbie at bar.
"you look it up!" he shot back like he was on the schoolyard.
"fine," it was my turn to roll my eyes.

of course my new assistant manager played the "oh, they must have changed the recipe" card when the recipe in the book proved me right. and of course he's wrong - again.

customer rant: i'm sorry you hate your job and i'm sorry you hate your manager - really i am. i know how much it sucks to be scheduled against your availability and i know it's equally rotten when you're understaffed, but please don't make your customer's experience suck as well. i ordered my drink politely. i tossed money in the tip jar. so why, instead of calling out my drink, did you merely place it on the bar so you could continue your tirade about how much you hate your store. when i thanked you for my drink you responded with a "yeah, whatever". i promise you, the customer will remember to never tip again if you keep this attitude up.


many happy returns

yesterday a customer came in wanting a refund for a mug she'd "recently purchased".
when she pulled the mug out of her bag and set it on the counter i instantly knew i was going to get a blog post out of it.

"ma'am," i said politely when i saw she was returning a christmas mug - from LAST year, "i'm sorry but i can't give you a refund for that."
"but i have the receipt right here!" she informed me and pulled out piece of paper.

it was one of those moments where you don't know whether to laugh or be insulted. the piece of paper she handed me had the words "ONE MUG - 5 DOLLARS" sloppily scrawled on it.

"ma'am, i'm sorry but this isn't one of our receipts." i told her as i handed back the homemade receipt.
"but i don't want the mug anymore." she pushed the paper back towards me.
"i can't refund your money, i'm sorry." i was still being polite, but i could tell she was getting ready to fight me. "i can't give you store credit, either."
"but it's one of your mugs!" her voice getting higher in pitch. "look - it even has the mermaid on it!" she pointed to the bux logo on the mug.
"yes, it is a mug we sold LAST christmas, and even if you did have a reciept from one of OUR stores, i still wouldn't be able to take it as a return."
"but why not?" she was back to being clueless again. "i don't want it anymore."
"ma'am," i said slowly hoping she'd actually listen to me this time. "we only give refunds if you have a VALID receipt and you bring it back within thirty days - "
"so give me store credit!" she interrupted me.

it's at this time i pull the 'ole "blame it on the computer" excuse.

"i'd love to give you credit, but you see the COMPUTER won't let me. it doesn't recognize the sku number on the mug since
this is from last year. there's NOTHING i can do about it."

she wasn't happy, but she quit arguing with me. of course, for "her troubles" she wanted a free pound of coffee.
uh, no.

barista rant: i'm speechless. you ordered your white mocha at 180 degrees. you even reminded me twice to make sure your drink was "beyond hot". so when i handed you your extra hot white mocha, you took a sip and made a face. then you complained that i made your drink "too hot". i'm sorry? if you don't want a 180 degree drink, then don't ask for one!


afternoon sweets

today i witnessed one of the sweetest things ever in a bux.

a boy, about eleven or twelve years of age, came into my bux in his sunday best (even though today is saturday). he looked a little nervous as he came up to the counter. in fact, he kind of stumbled over his words as he shifted uncomfortably in his patent leather shoes.

boy: "um, hi. uh, excuse me?"
barista brat: "hi, is there a drink i can get started for you?"
boy: "uh, yeah - wait, um, not right now, but uh, i have a question."
barista brat: "sure, what's your question?"

he took a deep breath and asked me his question, rapid fire.
boy: "yes-uh-hi-um-my-grandma-is-going-back-to-england-and-she-gave-me-a-starbucks-card-and-uh-i-wanted-to-pay-for-an-afternoon-tea-but-i-don't-know-where-to-do-that-so-i-came-here-is-that-ok?"
barista brat: "you want to treat your grandma to afternoon tea?"
boy: "yeah, can you do that?"

after checking how much he had on his starbucks card (thirty bucks!) the boy picked out different pastries he wanted to serve his grandma. he informed me that he wanted to bring her to bux in the early afternoon and if it was possible to have the pastries on plates and the tea served in ceramic mugs (alas, bux does not have real tea cups). he paid for the tea and pastries in advance and then went home to have his grandmother walk with him back to bux.

unfortunately my shift was over before they came back but i can't wait to hear how his mini-americanized-afternoon tea was with his grandma.

partner rant: i'm on my break. i have my nose buried in a book. i have my earbuds in - so why do you feel the need to keep interrupting my break to tell me idiotic things i have no interest in?!? there is nothing about my manner that cries out "COME BUG ME ON MY HALF HOUR BREAK! IGNORE THE EARBUDS AND THE BOOK - PLEASE TALK MY EAR OFF ABOUT THINGS THAT HAVE NO VALUE OR INTEREST TO ME!" so why do you insist on tapping me on the shoulder to tell me that when you drink soy milk you get a tummy ache? even when i inform you (as politely as possible) that i'm trying to read, you still want to chat! pick up on the body and verbal language - leave me alone!


the bitter half

most the baristas in my bux are good about leaving their personal drama at the front door. sure, you'll hear the occasional whining and complaining about someone's' parents/school/boyfriend/homies but usually my fellow baristas are pretty good about not obsessing over their issues while they're supposed to be making lattes.

however we now have a recently transferred barista who finds it impossible to not bring his drama with him when he comes to work.
his drama comes in the form of his amazon-sized girlfriend. she's a solid foot taller than he is and has amazon-sized attitude to boot. she's never once come in without her trademark frown and if she's not inside bux bitching her boyfriend out, she's calling him on the phone to give him an earful.

this morning bitched out barista called to say he was going to be a few minutes late. when he arrived he looked like he'd just come back from a sleep deprivation study with his bloodshot eyes and zombie-like stare. not two steps behind him was his girlfriend who was shaking her finger at him while complaining that he had no respect for her. i expected her to leave once bitched out barista clocked on but she hung around, using every chance he wasn't directly occupied to gripe at him some more. i really felt sorry for him. he looked so defeated while he just stood there and took whatever garbage his girlfriend was dishing out.
she left after awhile, but called him about an hour later. he spent another ten minutes in the backroom while she chewed him out. then when it was time for his lunch break she was back at bux to rip him a new one during his thirty minute break.

the really sad thing is every one of his shifts are like this. and if his girlfriend has no problem berating him in public, i hate to think of what she's like behind closed doors.
perky assistant manager has already talked with bitched out barista about his "distraction" while at work. i wonder if he realizes that his girlfriend is bitching him right out of a job.

barista rant: i'm sorry you have a cold, but please refrain from sneezing into your hand before handing me your cash. please don't lick your fingers to separate the dollar bills you're about to give me. and please don't cough in my face when ordering your drink


attitude change

even rude customers can have an off day!

we have a customer who comes in daily to my bux. she's older and immaculately put together. from the top of her highlighted head down to her open-toed fendis she reeks of old money and a rotten attitude. she never once has cracked a smile (although i tend to believe that has more to do with the botox and less to do with her disposition) and never has she been polite when ordering her drink. not only is she a mega grump each day, but she's also too lazy (or just too superior) to throw her straw wrappers away.

so imagine my surprise yesterday when she initiated a short pleasant conversation with me! she still didn't smile but she asked how my day was going and thanked me after her drink was made (something entirely unheard of for her). my fellow baristas and i were in shock when she threw her own straw wrapper away as well as toss some change into our tip jar.

in addition to this customer mr. "distinctly told you!" came in after taking some happy pills. he thank me profusely for leaving enough room in his drink as well as calling me "sweetheart" and "dear". who knows if his new lease on ordering coffee will stick, but it was nice to see he was more than capable of being polite.

of course i'm not holding my breath that these two won't quickly revert to their former grumpy selves.

partner rant: don't give me attitude because you need help finding shift coverage. you're not even from my bux! i know you hate calling around to other stores looking for coverage, but when i ask you to call back because we are experiencing a rush and are too busy to give you phone numbers, don't snarl at me with a "thanks for NOTHING!" before hanging up on me. this is not the way to make friends and influence, ok?


family affair

today's post comes courtesy of a barista brat at my old bux:

"I was working with Brittany (a recently re-hired partner) and although I'd heard from other people that she had an attitude she'd always been cool with me. So, during a rush her two sisters show up to give her a ride home. One of Brittany's sisters ordered a tall cappuccino and when I handed it off to her she pulled a face and said "OMG can you just slap that boy at register!"
I responded by saying "I'm sorry, is there something wrong with the order?" and she said "Yea, it's supposed to be a mocha light cappuccino!"
So I was trying to figure out just what she ordered when I asked "Oh, did you mean the mocha light FRAPuccino?"
That's when she got all crazy and starts speaking really slow, as if i'm an idiot. "I...want...a...mocha...light...C-A-P-P-U-C-C-I-N-O."
"So you want mocha in the cappuccino?" I asked her and she nodded her head. "So what do you mean by 'light'?" I asked because there is no such thing as a mocha light cappuccino.
"A mocha light cappuccino is what I mean!" She said again.
Obviously we were having a communication problem so I attempted AGAIN to figure out what exactly she wanted. "Do you mean 'light' as in weight or 'light' as in non-fat milk?"
"OMG what is wrong with you people!" She practically shrieked and then walked away from the hand off counter.
Next thing I know, Brittany walks over to bar and pretty much pushes me out of the way (mind you, she was off the clock and out of uniform). "Brittany, I can make the drink, I just need to know what your sister means by 'light'." I said as nicely as I could, even though I was pretty ticked off.
"She means non-fat." Brittany told me.
"I asked her that and she said no." I said to Brittany. "I'll finish the drink now that I know what she meant by 'light'." When the drink was made I called "tall mocha NON-FAT cappuccino on the bar" and her sister grabbed it and left.
I wish that was the end of the story but there is more! Ten minutes later my manager called me into the backroom to ask me what happened. I told her the whole story and when I'd finished my manager informed me that Brittany's sister had just called the store to complain about me - but instead of saying she was Brittany's sister she acted as if she was a normal customer. She lied and said that not only did I have a bad attitude but I only put an ounce of coffee in her drink, blah, blah, blah and thank goodness there was a helpful co-worker on the floor (Brittany) who actually knew how to make the drink and if it wasn't for "the co-worker" she would never come back to starbucks ever again!
It's bad enough when you have a bitchy customer, but when that bitchy customer is a relative of a fellow partner AND when they call your manager to lie and complain about you, then it's beyond ridiculous.

barista rant: guess what? we don't make our own pastries. we don't hide them and we don't sell them to the highest bidder. please try and remember this when we run out of your favorite muffin, ok? don't tell me to go back and make you another one, don't say that i'm hoarding them for myself and don't accuse me of "black market" selling them to customers who are willing to toss big money into the tip jar.


crash course

it's equally frustrating for baristas and customers when we run out of product.
believe me, we baristas feel bad when someone orders and pays for their drink, only to find out that after five minutes of us searching high and low we do not have the soy/chai/vanilla/whipped cream/caramel sauce or lemonade to make their beverage.
too many times i've had to apologize to someone because someone dropped the ball when it came to stocking the store.

and yes, it sucks to be chewed out by a customer for having no product (especially since we baristas have no control over what's ordered - that's a management issue) and then the mad district dash to pick up product from other stores sucks as well. it's not uncommon to be called in early specifically for the task of searching out product. it's also not uncommon to be a person short on the floor because a manager has asked a barista to burn their gas driving around town on a scavenger hunt.

i'll be honest, driving around for product should never happen - but it does ALL the time.

that's why, although unfortunate, it was not surprising to hear that a partner was involved in a car accident when she was out picking up product. luckily she wasn't injured. the same, however, could not be said of her car.
now she's requested to talk with the district manager since she believes the accident is in part bux's fault and i can understand why she feels this way. if the store was stocked she would have been making drinks, not making lane changes. i have no idea what the district manager will say or what recourse - if any - the barista might have. let's just say it's going to be a gossip filled weekend!

barista rant: there's no such thing as breve soy! there's no such thing as half&half made with soy at bux! i even explained - in detail - what made soy soy and what made breve breve. so why, after i'd explained it to you, did you look at me blankly and say "i don't care about anything so long as you use breve soy". is it because you're stubborn? is it because you believe if you ask for it enough somehow i will magically be able to create breve soy just for you? please, if you are going to insist on a certain kind of milk, make sure it actually exists.


shiny newbies who tarnish fast

last week i wrote about newbies who seem so clueless it's a wonder why they were ever hired. it's true, however, that sometimes these newbies become solid partners who more than earn their paychecks. conversely there are newbies that start off spectacularly then steadily turn into unproductive whiners.

a few weeks ago a newbie from another bux was covering at my store (that's how desperate we were for coverage). although she'd been with the company for less than a month she was solid at register, frappuccinos, and competent at bar. she had a great attitude, mixed well with our customers and was fun to work with. so when i found out she was covering another shift at my store i was actually excited since she had been so great the first time around.

when she called to let us know she'd be fifteen minutes late i didn't think too much of it. but when she breezed in half an hour late out of uniform and tossed out a "what's up, brat?" i was slightly miffed. it then took her another ten minutes to change into her work clothes before she was ready to join us on the floor.

i wish i could say that she was golden for the rest of her shift, but she wasn't. in fact she was like a different person. she whined when asked to stock the bathroom, she was less than welcoming with customers, and she seemed to have regressed when it came to bar, forgetting recipes and messing up on drinks. i could hardly believe this was the same girl that wowed us the last time she covered a shift at our store.

when her shift was over she asked me "was i as good as last time?" and i gave her an honest answer: "not even close."

why do stellar newbies go bad?
i have no idea, and really there's no excuse. hopefully she'll learn but usually once they "go bad" there's no turning back. and some wonder why turnover is so high at bux.

customer rant: i'm glad you like the new bux cd - really i am, but could you refrain from playing it so loud that your customers have to practically yell when placing their orders? and when a customer asks you to turn it down, do so! especially since you have it cranked up past the bux approved level. i know it's your passive aggressive way to drive customers out of the store when it comes close to closing time, and it's truly unacceptable. crank the music up as high as you like when the doors are locked and you're cleaning, just remember that bux is supposed to be "the third place" - not YOUR place.


ask the barista!

DJ asked -

When I go to my favourite local bux, the baristas are always really sweet to me and I want to leave them a tip. I usually toss something in the jar, but what is the appropriate tip amount when one orders a drink there? Thanks!

honestly, baristas love to see dollars in the tip jar, but if you were to only toss in a dime or so we won't complain (at least we shouldn't!). whenever i go to bux (and i go quite often as a customer) i always toss the change from my order into the tip jar. the only time baristas feel someone should tip is when they've ordered 20+ drinks and expect us to box them up. so, in my opinion, the "appropriate" amount is what you feel comfortable tipping. but if your barista is rude, unwelcoming and your drink tastes like drain water - then don't tip anything!

simply lauren asked -

So, i'm wondering when the christmas cups are coming out. AND----also, is pumpkin spice latte a year round drink or seasonal? me and my friend have a bet. :) Thanks! Keep up the great blog!

good question about the christmas cups! i don't have an exact roll out date (i will find out!) but they usually come out around the end of october/beginning of november. and the pumpkin spice latte is only seasonal. some buxs have them long into the new year because they still have product in their stores. that happened at my old bux and eventually the product expired and we had to toss what we had left.

partner rant: i know you want to leave early. i know you tried calling people in so that you could leave an hour earlier. i know it's frustrating when you have somewhere you want to be but are stuck at work. but guess what? the schedule has been posted for two weeks! so don't spend your ENTIRE shift complaining that people never do you favors, ok? don't bitch and moan because YOU failed to take care of your shift weeks ago. and don't think that all the partners working with you today won't remember your all day tirade.



this morning a woman phoned in an order for three coffee travelers (coffee in box to take with you). she said she was having a 10am meeting and she wanted to take coffee with her to the office. so at 9:35 we began brewing coffee for her designated 9:45 pick-up. when she didn't show up promptly at 9:45 we weren't too concerned because people show up a few minutes late all the time for travelers. but when the travelers had been sitting there for half an hour and there was no sign of her, we figured she'd decided against coffee at the meeting and didn't have the decency to call and cancel her order.

it sucked to have wasted our time and coffee like that, but we quickly got over it. at noon the woman called again, apologizing profusely and explaining that the meeting had been bumped to 1pm. she asked for three more travelers but this time perky assistant manager informed the customer that she'd have to pay for the travelers in advance since she never showed up for her first order. the woman complied and sent someone from the office to pay in advance for the coffee.

end of story, right?

not quite.

at 12:45 we had the pre-paid travelers ready for her, but still she didn't show. she didn't show at 1pm and she didn't show at 1:30. perky assistant manager called the number the customer had given her, but there was no answer.
it wasn't until 2:45 (a half hour after perky assistant manager went home) did the customer call us back.

"i'm so sorry about the coffee! we just got swamped here and i couldn't send anyone to get it." she explained.
"it's still here waiting for you so you can pick it up at anytime." i told her, knowing full well she was going to either ask us to redo the travelers or ask for a refund.
"well, the meeting is already over and the coffee is probably cold already so it's not going to do me any good." she was waiting for me to offer a refund but i wasn't going to do it. "i mean, the whole reason i ordered it was for a meeting and that meeting's already taken place, you know?" she continued but i still didn't say anything. "so..."
"so you can pick up the travelers any time," i repeated.
"the meeting is OVER," she was giving big-time attitude. "i don't NEED the coffee anymore so i'd like my money back."
"ma'am, the whole reason you had to pay in advance was because you didn't show up for the first order you placed. i'm sorry but i can't refund your money." i told her.

that's when she started yelling in my ear. that's when she threatened to call my manager and district manager and that's when she again demanded her money back.

guess what?
even with her threats and insults i still didn't give her the refund.

partner rant: do you have an ailment? are you suffering from restless leg syndrome? is that why you always walk away from your designated position? just because you prefer to work on bar doesn't mean you can shirk your register duties. in case you didn't know bux does not allow you to pick and choose your duties. either suck it up or turn in your two weeks notice.


another newbie

last night i worked with a newbie who has been with us for nearly a month. i was assured by perky assistant manager that newbie was "shaky at bar but solid on everything else". after working four hours with him i now know perky assistant manager likes to streeeeeeetch the truth.

let's just say that newbie from last night made cell-phone newbie look like partner of the month.

when i asked him to empty the trash he complied. he just neglected to replace the can liners.
when a customer asked for iced coffee, he grabbed a hot cup and poured the iced coffee inside instead of using an iced cup.
he filled the decaf hopper with regular espresso beans and asked "is there a difference between the two?" when it was brought to his attention.
he continually mis-marked cups all through the night, never remembering that "M" stands for "mocha" and not "misto".
and he told a customer that we sell ice cream when we clearly do not.

the sad thing is he's a really nice guy. it seems that he wants to do the work, he just has absolutely no ability to remember how to do it. i'm not sure if it's a question of confidence or if he really is unable to retain any of the information he's been given over the last month but either way i don't see how he's going to last.

barista rant: please do not throw a tantrum in my store because we ran out of soy. i know it sucks that you drove all the way over here to get your half-caff triple venti sugar-free vanilla soy three splenda extra hot foamy latte only to find we ran out our supply of soy milk but that does not give you license to pitch a fit. especially when the people working the night shift are NOT the ones who messed up the ordering.