10 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You

Those hipster kids making your coffee have a few tricks up their aprons

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012  |  Updated 12:41 PM PDT
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10 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You

NBC San Diego

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Smart Money delved deep into the hearts minds of serious baristas to find out what they do – and don’t do – that may have an impact on your caffeine intake. Here's their list with a few tips too:

10. “We Didn’t Exist 30 Years Ago” – Having a job at a coffee shop hasn’t always been the goal of recent liberal arts graduates. More recently, it has become a career choice for those searching for an appreciated niche. Some coffee chains enroll their baristas in frequent training sessions, and expect all employees to distinguish a skinny short-pull nonfat sugar-free vanilla latte from the average cup of joe.

9. “Actually our coffee is underpriced” – Coffee futures were priced at $300 per pound in 2011 – an all-time high for the industry, which also must accommodate for rising dairy and sugar prices.

8. “Need a bigger jolt? Don’t reach for a venti” – Big complicated drinks, such as macchiatos or cappuccinos, don’t have more caffeine than smaller sizes. Usually they have the same amount of espresso, just with more milk. They just cost more.

7. “Not all beans pack the same punch” – Coffee companies aren’t legally required to advertise the amount of caffeine their beans have, but some coffee shops provide that information. And from café to café, the caffeine levels can be vastly different.

6. “Your web surfing won’t pay the rent” – Customers may treat cafes like their own living rooms, but that doesn’t mean they own the place. Lingering customers are urged to make a small purchase and tip their baristas every hour or so.

5. “You might want to stick with the coffee…” – Most cafes don’t bake their own goodies, and often get them delivered in the wee hours of the morning; many hours after you start looking for a sweet accompaniment to your latte. They also tend to be high calorie and have loads of sugar in them. That’s on top of the coffee drink too. The average large latte contains 200 calories. Add a pump of vanilla and that brings the calorie count up to 380 – as much as 10 pieces of bacon, according the Daily Mail.

4. “You can really milk us” – there are cheaper routes to take to get your caffeine fix. Rewards cards, for one. Also, a more economic latte, order a double espresso in a larger cup and then just add milk at the condiment counter, one law student told Smart Money.

3. “We’ve got a secret menu” – Most coffee shops have unlisted drinks , like a dirty chai – chai tea with a shot of espresso, or an Espresso Panna Cotta – espresso with whipped cream, for those patrons who have “been to Italy.” Most baristas know these if they’ve been in the business long enough, since there’s always that customer who chastises new workers for not knowing what a Madagascar Vanilla Affrogato is. Oh you don’t know either? Ask the newbie.

2. “We don’t always clean our equipment” – in the mid-day rush, coffee employees don’t always have time to wash off the caked –on milk from the steamer, or clean out the old grinds from the coffee maker.

1.“Be nice or we’ll decaf you!” – There’s no telling what an aggravated barista will do. If a customer is condescending, rude or just plain mean, they may taste the wrath. Some baristas have admitted to making the rude customers decaf coffee instead of the desired caffeinated brew. Another untold favorite is using fatty milk instead of non-fat. Best way to avoid this happening to you? Respect your barista. "People treat you like you're dumb because you're in the food industry," one barista told Smart Money.

 

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