10 Types of Customers You'll Meet as a Starbucks Barista

Well, these are the most common.

Photo by Katherine J. Zumpano 

Starbucks is all over, so it's no surprise that it sees its fair share of customers. Some of them are just passing through, whereas some are locals and might be seen more often.

Some customers fall into certain categories of customer types. The individual customers may be different, but the way they order is like hundreds of others. These are the ten most common types of customers you might encounter as a Starbucks barista.

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The Gold Card Member

“Did I get points for that?” 

It doesn’t matter how many times they’ve been to Starbucks — they ask if they’ll get points for their transaction each time the pay. It's understandable, since many gold members spend quite a bit of money on Starbucks every year. For loyal Starbucks patrons, it's important that they're earning stars for their next free item, or earning stars for the games app users can play. After all, it's too good an opportunity to pass up.

The Basic White Girl

“Do you have Pumpkin Spice?”

Some coffee shops have pumpkin-flavored syrup all year round; Starbucks does not. Still, there’s always that person who asks for it in March, knowing full well that you don’t have any left from the fall, and that you won’t be getting any until next fall. But the worst thing is the disappointed face you get when you tell them you’re out — it’s like they really thought you were going to say yes.

The 'Complicated Order'

“I’m sorry...this order is going to be so complicated. Can I get a grande latte with soy milk and two pumps of vanilla?”

This order isn’t complicated. In fact, it’s pretty standard. But there are still customers who come in and say they’re so sorry and they know you must hate orders like theirs. In all honesty, though, we only hate that you act dramatic about it. Trust me, this is basic.

The *Actual* Complicated Order

“Can I get a grande, two-thirds decaf, ristretto, half-sweet, one percent latte with very little foam, at 140 degrees, double-cupped with no sleeve, and two honey packets on the side.”

Since most Starbucks drinks are built the same way, it’s not like drinks are difficult to make. However, drinks like this are a pain because of how many customizations there are. And it doesn’t help that people with long orders like this usually get used to saying them, so they rattle them off in one breath. You’re done ordering by the time I’ve marked “two-thirds decaf ristretto shots” on your cup.

The Helicopter Customer

“Is that coconut milk? I asked for coconut milk...okay, I’m just checking.”

Mistakes happen, especially to baristas. Sometimes the milk gets a little too foamy, or there’s an extra pump of vanilla. And, of course, the customer should always leave satisfied with their drink. But we write down what you order for a reason — so we make your drink the way you want it. Peering over the counter at the barista making your drink might seem like a good way to ensure your drink is made perfectly, but it’s a little annoying for us. We’re professionals! We’ve got this.

The Office Coffee Runner

“I have a list.”

They hand you a small piece of paper with seven different drink orders written in chicken scratch, all so close together it’s hard to tell which drink is which. Then, they order two more drinks. And, of course, only one of them is drip coffee. The rest are lattes, mochas, and frappuccinos. 

The 'White Rabbit'

“I’m running late. Can you make that quickly?”

There's nothing more frustrating than people who are running late, but still find time to stop at Starbucks. Maybe they're supposed to be at work in five minutes, maybe they're trying to catch a plane or a ferry. It doesn't matter what they're running late for: they're still going to order that mocha and breakfast sandwich, all while asking you to hurry, because they have poor planning skills.

The Regular

"I'll have my usual."

One of the best things about working at Starbucks is the regular customers you get to know. They come in (almost) every day and (usually) get the same thing. Chances are, if you tend to work at the time they come in, you get to know their routine pretty well, and you can have their drink ready for them by the time they've finished paying. Not all regular customers are chatty, but most of them will genuinely appreciate the time you've taken to learn their names and what they like, so they'll make the effort to get to know you, too.

The Frappuccino Lover

"I'll have a grande latte—no, wait. I'll just get a Mocha Frappuccino."

I have nothing against frappuccinos. I think they're delicious, even though some of them are a little too sweet. I do, however, consider them a spring/summer drink, and most baristas I know agree with me. But there's always that one customer who orders them year-round. If that's what they like, just make it and let them get on with their day, even you can't imagine drinking a blended beverage in the rain/snow/below-freezing weather. They like what they like.

The Anti-Starbucks

"I hate Starbucks. I never come here."

How do you respond to that? Unless you're a Starbucks fanatic, you probably don't care that the customer doesn't like Starbucks. However, it's a weird statement to make...in a Starbucks. Either there were no other coffee shops around, and they decided to swallow their hatred enough to chug some coffee (that they'll most likely complain about), or they're accompanying someone who does like Starbucks. Either way, it's an odd statement to reply to, especially when you have to remain professional but probably don't care what they think of Starbucks — to you, it's a paycheck.

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There you have it: ten of the most common customers you'll run into as a Starbucks barista! Some are nice, some aren't nice, but all of them are providing you with a job. Plus, the difficult ones give you stories to tell.

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