Everyone’s got their favourite coffee order – and similarly, everyone’s got an opinion on what the ‘correct’ coffee order is.
Some snobs look down on anyone who dares order a cappuccino. Others love nothing more than an iced caffè mocha from Starbucks or Gloria Jeans. Alternatively, you have the desk jockeys who don’t ever branch out from anything more complicated than a flat white… Or the weekend warriors who think liking espresso martinis is a valid substitute for a personality.
But if you were to ask a barista – those weary, battle-hardened purveyors of caffeine that virtually power the Australian economy – what their least favourite coffee order to make is, you might be surprised at the answer.
The cold, hard truth? Most baristas don’t really care what order you like.
We spoke with Max Groh, a barista in Sydney’s Inner West, who suggests that baristas are likely less judgy than you’d think, saying “people can drink their coffee however they want.”
What grinds his teeth is when people “don’t know their orders” and try to make modifications once the extractors and steam pump have already been set into action:
“I had one guy… ask for a skinny latte, then at the last minute, after I’d already charged him, he asked if he could change his order to an extra shot. All with a queue of people waiting.”
This perspective’s backed up by discussions online: the consistent feedback baristas across the globe have is that orders themselves aren’t what bothers them; it’s customers who don’t understand what they’re ordering or try and alter orders in annoying ways.
That said, there are some coffee orders many Australians baristas find a little irksome.
One consistent bugbear of baristas is non-dairy milks – not because of any prejudice against vegans or anything (necessarily), but purely on a functional level.
“I think I speak for many baristas… when I say our least favourite coffees to make are those containing non-dairy milk,” says Mike Cracknell, owner of The Vertue of the Coffee Drink in Melbourne’s Carlton tells Broadsheet.
“A strong soy or hot almond latte is challenging. [Cow’s milk alternatives] don’t always act the way you’d like. If it gets too hot they can curdle.”
DMARGE also spoke with Zae Greenwood, creative director at One Hundred Hospitality Group and manager of Sydney’s Three Williams Cafe, who relates that his baristas’ least favourite orders to prepare are those with oat milk specifically.
“It’s got quite a high water content, which makes it really bubbly. This makes it harder to spin… It doesn’t have the same sort of creaminess.”
But it’s a necessary evil, he suggests. “Oat milk is far better for the environment than other non-dairy milks like almond… And much better than cow’s milk.”
It raises an ethical dilemma: drinking cow’s milk could be considered ‘animal cruelty’, but if non-dairy milks are much harder for baristas to make, isn’t that just barista cruelty? It’s certainly something to mull over your next extra hot, half sweet, cashew milk chai latte.