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13+ Coffee Shop Secrets Your Barista Won’t Tell You

Rude customers, deluxe espressos and the perfect cup of coffee – all in a day’s work for your barista. How do they do it? Here are their best-kept secrets.

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1. If You’re Not at Starbucks, Don’t Order Like You Are

If you want a Caramel Macchiato, you’re in the wrong place. Take the time to order from our actual menu.

(Photo: Jupiterimages/

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2. A Bigger Cup Doesn’t Mean More Coffee

Starbucks’ Venti (590 ml) and Grande (473 ml) each contain two shots of espresso. The Venti just has more milk. So if it’s caffeine you’re after, size doesn’t matter.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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3. There’s an Art to Pulling a Perfect Shot of Espresso

The ideal shot takes 18 to 22 seconds to pull. I have to make sure that the espresso grounds are packed to just the right firmness, that the right amount of water filters through, and control the temperature.

If a shot isn’t perfect, I won’t serve it.

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4. Don’t Let the Vegan Label Fool You

It doesn’t mean our cakes are good for you. They are LOADED with white sugar.


(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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5. Yes, I Went To School For This

Starbucks sends employees to barista school for two weeks, where they study the history of coffee, the entire coffee menu, and how to turn milk into velvety foam.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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6. Latte Art Reflects Quality

If a heart or a pinwheel design holds in the milk it means that the consistency of the foam is good and the shot was pulled well.

If you’re at a place that does foam artwork, and you don’t get a good picture, that means your drink is not well made.

(Photo: Hemera/Thinkstock)

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7. Please Believe Me

If you asked for decaf, I gave you decaf. You don’t need to ask me repeatedly. I am not out to get you.

(Photo: Creatas/Thinkstock)

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8. You’ve Probably Been Fooled More Than Once

Sometimes the owners of independent coffee/espresso carts buy cheap coffee and sell it as a respected brand.

Not that any of our customers noticed.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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9. Coffee Isn’t Always Good For You

Drinking two quad-shot, 615 ml, vanilla lattes every day isn’t healthy. It’s very, very bad for you.

(Photo: Hemera/Thinkstock)

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10. Please Tip

I know your coffee is already overpriced, but a coin in the tip jar earns you infinite goodwill. I’ll carry that happy feeling over to my interaction with my next customer.

Karma works, and it only costs you a buck.

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11. You Are the Reason For the Wait

When there’s a line to the door, I hate it when customers spend the whole time talking on the phone and only think about what they want when they get to the register.

They are the reason the line takes forever.

(Photo: Jupiterimages/

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12. Coffee Isn’t Always That Sweet

A real macchiato has just a stain of milk foam and no sugar. Because Starbucks uses the names of authentic espresso beverages for sugary, milky confections that bear no resemblance to the real thing, they confuse people.

I’ll make someone an authentic drink and they’ll say, where’s the milk? Where’s the syrup?

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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13. Be Nice

No matter how tired you are, it’s nice to say PLEASE when you’re ordering your first coffee of the day. “I’ll take a…” or “Give me a…” is NOT “please” in anyone’s language.

Sources: Baristas from Starbucks and independent cafes and coffee carts in Seattle, New York, Pennsylvania, and London, England.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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14. Try Getting a Whole Wheat Bagel Instead of a Pastry

As an occasional treat, a pastry is fine, but as a breakfast it’s disastrous. The simple carbs and high sugar will leave you drooping and hungry an hour later.

Source: 5 Minute Health Boosters

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15. What’s Canada’s Most Popular Coffee Spot?

With over 3000 locations across the country, Tim Hortons is the overwhelming winner. Starbucks has about 1250 coffeeshops in Canada.

(Photo courtesy of Berlotti/Flickr)


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16. Making Coffeeshop Garbage Into Plastic? They’re Working On It

Starbucks and the City University of Hong Kong have launched a project to have the 5000 tons of discarded coffee grounds and pastries the coffeehouse produces in Hong Kong every year processed at a biorefinery into “detergent ingredients and bio-plastics that can be incorporated into other useful products.”

Source: Science Daily

(Photo: annie-claude/Istockphoto)

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17. Buying Your Coffee With Physical Cash Could Be On Its Way Out

In 2012, Starbucks invested in mobile start-up Square. If everything goes as planned, in the not-too-distant future, customers registered with the company’s smartphone app will automatically be identified when they enter a Starbucks location in the United States, through GPS technology.

Once they get to the cash registers, baristas will only need to confirm that the customer’s face matches what’s on their screen, and the payment will then automatically be charged to the customer’s credit card.

Source: New York Times

(Photo: kzenon/Istockphoto)

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18. Starbucks Has Its Own Record Label

Since 2007, Starbucks and its Hear Music label have released albums by big name artists like Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Elvis Costello, Carly Simon and John Mellencamp.

(Photo courtesy of TFDuesing/Flickr)

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19. Is Nicotine Really the Secret Ingredient that Makes Tim Hortons Coffee so Addictive?

For at least ten years, rumours that the Canadian coffee giant added nicotine to their coffee have floated around the internet.

Is it actually true? No – it’s just an urban legend, one big enough for Tim Hortons to put up an explicit denial on their website.


(Photo: diane555/Istockphoto)

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20. That Strawberry Frappuccino? It Contains Crushed Bugs

Word got out in May 2012 that as part of its effort to cut back on artificial ingredient use, Starbucks began using cochineal dye to give Strawberry Frappuccinos their colour.

Kinda creepy? Some vegans are unhappy, but the dye, extracted from female cochineal bugs, is already used in a variety of foods we love, like cookies, jams and juices.

Source: ABC News

(Photo courtesy of inazakira/Flickr)