Coffee Shop Drink Tips + Former Barista AMA

Kamchowder's picture
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Coffee House Drinks Dissected

Hello all, I thought it would be of value to provide you with a list of coffee shop beverages and their differences that I learned when I was a barista. If you have any questions, ask below.

Coffee based drinks

Coffee: Doesn't really need an explanation, but light roast coffee typically has more caffeine than dark roast coffee. Can be had iced.
Cafe au lait: Just coffee with steamed milk (usually whole milk unless specified). Flavors can be added, just beware of the increase in calories (usually nonfat milk used).
Red Eye: Coffee with espresso shots, good for late nights.

Espresso based drinks

Espresso: Espresso shots. Usually had in a single or a double shot, but more shots can be added. Very concentrated caffeine amounts. The shots tend to taste more and more sour after thirty seconds, so drink as soon as possible. Serving size is small.
Americano: Espresso equivalent of coffee. Americanos are just shots and hot water. They are also typically stronger than coffee. A small Americano usually has two shots; a medium usually has three shots, etc. Can be flavored and iced.
Macchiato: Not Starbuck's macchiato (which is actually a latte). Single or double shot of espresso (more can be specified) with a bit of foam and milk. Serving size is small.
Cappuccino: Usually had with one or two shots of espresso (more can be specified). A cappuccino typically comes with four to five ounces of milk and about 6 ounces of foam. Usually served in a small cup and can be flavored. Can be had iced, which is just an iced latte with steamed foam.
Latte: Shots with milk. If unflavored, whole milk is usually used. If the latte is flavored, usually nonfat milk is used. Usually has about half an inch of foam. Iced, flavored lattes usually have fewer calories due to less flavoring being used.
Flavored Iced Coffee: Usually made with espresso, flavor, and water over ice.
Iced Blended, Frappuccino, etc: Tastes like ice cream, but has a massive amount of calories. Even the no sugar added options still have more than four hundred calories for a small.

Tea based drinks

Black Tea: Has a decent amount of caffeine, let steep for about five minutes.
Green Tea: Has little caffeine, usually does not have room for milk and sugar. Let steep for three minutes
Herbal Tea: No caffeine. Usually does not have room for milk and sugar, Let steep for seven minutes.
Tea Latte: Caffeine levels depend on the tea. Hot tea lattes usually have milk, whereas iced tea lattes do not have milk. All versions of tea lattes are sweet and pack quite a few calories.
Matcha Latte: Matcha powder with milk. Rather sweet and has quite a few calories.

Tricks, Tips, and Miscellaneous

Save money (Only works in California): If the cashier asks you if your order is "for here or to go?," say that the drink is to go. That way the store won't charge you tax on your drink.
Clarity: Say the size of the drink before the drink and its details. That way the cashier will most likely mess up less.
Cubano shots: The sugar is mixed with the espresso grinds when pulled.
Save weight (and money): ** Avoid the overpriced pastries.
**Watch your drink be made (if possible):
Some baristas cut corners, which can ruin the beverage. For example, some baristas use expired espresso shots (which taste sour) when finishing up drinks or they restream milk.

I think that pretty much covers it.

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Comments (46)

Jun 22, 2017

Dark roasted coffee is bitter to the taste. Columbia coffee is good enough for that caffeine high.

Jun 22, 2017

Colombia. And it's the arabica bean that is found in most 85% of the worlds coffee, also called "light roast".

Jun 22, 2017
C.R.E. Shervin:

Colombia. And it's the arabica bean that is found in most 85% of the worlds coffee, also called "light roast".

One time on vacation in Costa Rica i purchased 25 lbs of coffee all different types and stuffed it in my carry on.

    • 1
Jun 26, 2017

"Light roast" just means it wasn't roasted for as long. I roast coffee at home sometimes. Also, the lighter the roast, the more caffeine as the roasting process removes caffeine.

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

    • 1
Jun 22, 2017
GoldenCinderblock:

"Light roast" just means it wasn't roasted for as long. I roast coffee at home sometimes. Also, the lighter the roast, the more caffeine as the roasting process removes caffeine.

So share the recipe what brand of coffee beans you use for roasting?

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Jun 26, 2017

It's not a recipe. All you need is beans and a stove. I like Unicorn. I think it's only in Chicago. I only do that if I have a lot of time though. Usually just buy whole bean dark and medium roasts at World Market in big bags.
I worked as a barista at a Seattle's Best inside a Borders when I was 18. Super chill job because our traffic didn't even compare to any independent Starbucks. I still would give people decaf all the time to avoid work.

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

Jun 22, 2017
GoldenCinderblock:

It's not a recipe. All you need is beans and a stove. I like Unicorn. I think it's only in Chicago. I only do that if I have a lot of time though. Usually just buy whole bean dark and medium roasts at World Market in big bags.
I worked as a barista at a Seattle's Best inside a Borders when I was 18. Super chill job because our traffic didn't even compare to any independent Starbucks. I still would give people decaf all the time to avoid work.

Decaf is not coffee it's like diet soda who the hell comes up with that stuff. I will purchase in bulk and try this. Seattle Best is good coffee.

Jun 26, 2017

Seattle's Best was just drip coffee trash, like Starbucks.
Decaf most certainly is coffee lol. It still has many of the health benefits and a small amount of caffeine as well as the other non-caffeine stimulants in coffee.

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

Jun 22, 2017

you're right about the light and dark roast and caffeine.

Jun 22, 2017

expresso

    • 1
Jun 22, 2017

lol

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Jun 22, 2017

How in God's name were you a barista and you call it "expresso"?

    • 2
Jun 22, 2017

What's the other name? I know that Starbucks calls it something different. Where I used to work, it went by a single expresso, double expresso, etc.

Jun 22, 2017
Kamchowder:

Where I used to work, it went by a single expresso, double expresso, etc.

Was it here?

Java Juggs

    • 2
Jun 22, 2017

I love the menu

Small Coffee..............50 cents
Medium Coffee.........75 cents
Large Coffee..............$1.25
Gentleman's Latte....$300 *(Money for Gentleman's Latte is for time and companionship only)

Jun 23, 2017

Where is that? I MUST go!

Jun 22, 2017

...and I can't spell

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Best Response
Jun 22, 2017
Kamchowder:

If the cashier asks you if your order is "for here or to go?," say that the drink is to go. That way the store won't charge you tax on your drink.

...and in what fantasy-land do you live, where taxes are optional?

    • 9
Jun 22, 2017

If you say for here, coffee shops are treated like restaurants, so there is a restaurant/sales tax. The lack of taxes if you say to go through me off too. By the way, this might vary state to state.

    • 1
Jun 26, 2017

Same in the UK, many coffee shops or bakeries won't charge you tax if you order it to go

Jun 22, 2017

expresso? wow.

Jun 22, 2017

Since when do you not have to pay taxes??

Jun 22, 2017

"No sales tax is charged on hot beverages, hot bakery goods, and cold prepared foods if ordered "to go."
It seems like this is only to case in California. I'll edit my post.

Read more at http://www.brandeating.com/2008/05/for-here-or-to-...

Jun 22, 2017

Lol, it's *espresso not expresso. Funniest post on here in a while.

    • 1
Jun 22, 2017

Haha. Thanks for the correction.

Jun 22, 2017

Coffee with coconut oil all day

    • 1
Jun 22, 2017

Really? I can't imagine that tastes good..

Jun 22, 2017

just a tablespoon or so of coconut oil. I think it's really good

Jun 22, 2017

Value add. Thanks.

Any thoughts on tipping? If you're using a loyalty card (e.g. Starbucks gold card) it's always a bit awkward to pull out cash separately to tip. Then again, the repeat interactions probably make it worthwhile to do so on the reg...

    • 1
Jun 22, 2017

There really is no need to tip if the order is short and simple. Cash is preferred because it typically doesn't get taxed, although it probably varies between states ans stores. Also, if the cashier makes your drink and sees that you put in a tip, they will tend to make your drink better. Loyalty card tips are more convenient, but the cashier typically won't know if you tipped them or not, so you drink wont get any special treatment.
If you want special treatment just build a rapport with the baristas and cashiers. Again, tips aren't really necessary.

Jun 22, 2017

damn, all this time I've been writing out checks to tip

    • 1
Jun 22, 2017

Where were you when I was working? Haha

Jun 22, 2017

@Kamchowder what's the most complicated order you remember taking?

ps i've been getting into mexican coffee, Chiapas, Oaxaca, good stuff

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Jun 22, 2017

The coffee shop I used to work at was in a touristy part of town so tons of foreigners came in. Once there was a French couple who ordered in French, and, although, I cannot speak French, I successfully deciphered what drinks they want. After I completed their order by using their gift card on their app, the wife came up to me and angrily said in perfect English, "I told you so clearly that I wanted to pay in cash!"
Me: "Ma'am, I don't speak french."
Needless to say, she was livid.

The most complex drink I made was an ice blended drink with half mocha, half vanilla, caramel, cherries, espresso beans, cookie crumbles, extra ice, whipped cream on the top and bottom of the cup, and an affogato shot on top. Thankfully I made that drink correctly

    • 1
Jun 22, 2017

Thoughts on the flat white?

Jun 22, 2017

It is a nice drink.
It has about 1-2 inches of microfoam, with about two shots of espresso. Typically served in a small cup. Almost half cappuccino and half latte. More coffee flavored than a latte, less foam than a cappuccino. Also, fewer calories than a latte.

Jun 22, 2017

Gregorys puts nose nugs in their cold brew. I don't hate it

Jun 22, 2017

Same goes with Colombian coffee

Jun 22, 2017

Triple eSpresso. Anything else should come with a box of tampons.

Jun 22, 2017

Once saw a lady down 5 shots of espresso...

Jun 22, 2017

A strange anecdote is most Colombians drink their coffee instant steeped with warm milk.

Jun 22, 2017

I thought most Colombians "drank" nose-beers.

Jun 23, 2017

Once I stopped in a hipster coffee shop and asked for an espresso to-go. The barista suggested I drink it there because a paper to-go cup would alter the flavor and worsen the whole coffee experience. I googled it and found this

Something to consider as the trade-off for that to-go savings mentioned above.

Jun 22, 2017
Jun 26, 2017
Jun 22, 2017