Don’t Don’t Do What Donny Don’t ...

Don’t Don’t Do What Donny Don’t Does: 8 Barista No-No’s From

Clove Smokin' 90s Barista

8. A barista should never utter these words: “We don’t do…”

You can’t control all the weird things you’re asked by the public, but you can control how you respond. If someone says “can I get a triple caramel frappe mochachini frozen blend?”, well, everything inside of you might want to snark, but good baristas resist the urge. A simple “I’m sorry, we don’t have blenders” is so much more professional than saying “we don’t do that here.”

7. A barista should never visit their café on their day off, kick off the barista on bar, and pull themselves a shot of espresso.

This actually happens. We have confirmation. What’s more annoying, the fact that you don’t trust your fellow employees, or the fact that you’re so totally arrogant about your own abilities? Relax, man.

6. A barista should never tell their customers the following: “We’re done washing dishes for the night.

We’ll wash the demitasse ourselves if we have to, seriously. Just don’t do it. If you were that closed, you’d have flushed the machine already.

5. A barista should never shit talk other coffee companies.

Of course, every barista shit-talks other coffee companies. It’s kind of an art form. But you should never ever do this while on bar; save it for your second margarita, AFTER you get off work. Your customers come to you because they already know you’re awesome; you don’t need to talk smack about the cafe down the block to prove your worth.

4. A barista should never say anything that even remotely sounds like the following: “I can’t make your cappuccino extra hot, because technically a cappuccino is supposed to be cooler than a latte. Technically.”

Technically, you’re a jerk.

3. A barista should never draw a penis in a customer’s latte.

It might seem like a good idea at the time…until the customer goes home and blogs about it.

2. A barista should never, ever play the following movie soundtracks in their cafe: Amelie, Rushmore, Garden State.

Also included on this list: that stupid Shins record we’ve all heard ten thousand times.

1.  A barista should never wear pajamas to work.

Unacceptable. This is not Sophomore year, and you are not late to your Botany lecture. You need to put on a real pair of pants. No one expects you to be the belle of the ball at 5:45 in the morning, but you have time to wear jeans.

Inspired by Proper Barista Etiquette.

  1. Seth Lester

    6 September

    (I know it’s an old post but I’ve been thinking about this particular point a lot lately!)

  2. Seth Lester

    6 September

    Well done, guys! Except I think I slightly disagree about #8. Specifically, I think sometimes it’s important to stick to your guns and explain to a customer why you *don’t* do things a certain way.

    Now, of course, you should always be as sweet as pie when explaining it! And, in the case of not having a blender behind the bar, when a barista says “we don’t do blended drinks” instead of saying “we can’t do blended drinks [because we don’t have a blender],” then yes: they look like a giant tool.

    But there are many things that cafes don’t do because they DON’T do them.

    I know of many cafes that don’t do espresso to go. I have worked in a lot of cafes all over the United States, and I’ve never worked in a cafe that *couldn’t* serve espresso to go. It’s not about a lack of tiny paper cups, or any other physical limitation. It’s about a cafe setting and adhering to [what they perceive as] quality standards. In this case, I think it’s important to be honest with the customer about why you don’t serve espresso to go. Which can be tricky. But if you always strive to a) always be honest and b) never be a dick, I think your customer service will always be pretty stellar.

    A lot has been said recently about not lecturing the customer in lieu of providing stellar customer service. But if you don’t hold some kind of set of standards in place, then aren’t you missing out on the most important point of customer service: making the customer the best possible beverage you can make them? Giving them an eye-opening experience that they’ll remember for years?

    Good customer service is all about intention. If you work in a cafe whose policy is to NOT serve espresso to go, but you put every tidbit and sinew of effort behind making sure that the needs of your “espresso to go customers” are met, then you’re gonna do just fine! Watch out, other baristas: here comes the employee of the month!

    Personal feelings aside (I’ll serve espresso in a shoe if that’s the store policy where I’m working), I have noticed that different shops have adopted different sets of standards that they have (hopefully) carefully groomed to best guarantee customer satisfaction. If your needs as a customer aren’t being met by these standards of a certain shop, then it might be time to find a different shop.

    But, as always, baristas should a) always be honest and b) never be a dick. Make every attempt to turn possible bad interactions with customers into challenges: challenge yourself to meet their needs without compromising your shop’s quality standards, and by golly, you’ll love it!

  3. Bryanbk

    12 August

    Number 3 is lame four dicks in your “for here” latte is just being awsome. Wait are boobs against the rules or not? Because that’s all I serve Daniel the dishwasher.

  4. Johnathon

    7 August

    I thought this article well written, simplistic, and to the point. As a newbie not-yet-barista, I found the insight enlightening; as a former chef and restaurateur with over 15 years experience, I found it would be not only humorous but helpful to keep my staff oriented on the purpose of being in the “hospitality” industry. Enso, don’t know you, but feel remorse for your clientel and co-workers…

  5. sexyfoam

    5 August

    This is great. We had something similar in the shop where I worked for 4 years, but we only had five golden rules. All were listed in our customer service section of our training manual. I have been guilty of a few of these and won the barista nickname “gruff”. I never thought to post them on the web. BRILLIANT!

  6. Brian Thayer

    4 August

    #5 and #4 hit me right in the face. Guilty. It’s time to rethink some things. Nice reality check.

  7. joemarrocco

    3 August

    Excellent. I will share this with our staff. Love it!

    Enso: It is obvious that NONE of us thought to write this up. That’s why we are reading it here first. And, that what makes it brilliant.

  8. Logan Potts

    2 August

    9. A barista should never slip a regular shot for decaff.

    Enso sucks.

  9. julia

    1 August


    remind me never to come to your cafe

  10. Anya

    1 August

    Totally brilliant. Hi fives all around. Must now print, publish and there we have it – Barista Commandments.

  11. Enso

    1 August

    My bad if I’m wrong, but I don’t think it would ever occur to my coworkers or me to write up a list like this.

  12. sprudge

    1 August


  13. Enso

    1 August

    I meant “clearly written”. Clearly.

  14. Enso

    1 August

    Clearlyritten by someone who has never worked in the food service industry.

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