The Barista Diaries: Tips and tricks I have learned as a Starbucks barista  

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Pictured is a cup of coffee with a leaf design. This last Barista Diaries is all about helpful tips and tricks in order to get your coffee just the way you like it. Picture credit to Chevanon Photography

It is only fitting that my last “Barista Diaries” column of the semester discusses the tips I have learned from being a barista the past two years. Since I’m graduating next week, yesterday was my final shift at Starbucks. I am excited to let you in on a couple of its best-kept secrets.  

Don’t wait in the drive-thru line 

If your local Starbucks has a drive-thru option, I still recommend going inside to order your drinks. There is usually only one barista who makes drive-thru beverages, which can hold up the line if there are multiple drinks per order. Food items take even longer because they have to be warmed. Ordering inside the cafe takes half the time and you save gas in the process.  

Always order light ice  

Starbucks’ ice standards are a little exaggerated in my opinion. Since the iced coffee, cold brew and milks used for lattes are already chilled, you should always ask the barista for light ice. You didn’t hear this from me, but you can also order a refresher with a large cup of ice on the side to get more bang for your buck. 

Use your stars 

If you do not already have the Starbucks app downloaded on your phone, register for a rewards account before your next Starbucks run. You gain stars when you scan your account ID at the register or place mobile orders. These stars eventually add up and can earn you a free drink every once in a while, so take advantage of this! I recommend ordering an expensive drink when you redeem your reward because it does not charge you for non-dairy milks or cold foams like Dunkin’ does. You can also put your birthday into the app for a free drink on your special day!  

Don’t hesitate to use the secret menu 

TikTok has become the top platform for influencers and Starbucks lovers to share their newest drink creations and ideas. Oftentimes in the comment section, I read that people are nervous to ask their barista for custom beverages that are not found on the menu. The problem with ordering custom drinks is that they sometimes have names like “cookies and cream cold brew,” “cookie butter latte” or “captain crunch frappuccino.” It is totally fine to order drinks off the “secret menu,” but make sure you communicate what ingredients are in the drink and how it is made with your barista. For example, the cookie butter latte is an iced chai tea latte made with oat milk and brown sugar syrup.  

Be kind to your barista 

Finally, being kind to your barista and all food service employees is the most important tip I have learned from my job at Starbucks. I had no idea how much of an impact unkind words from customers would have on food service workers until I was hired at Starbucks. Food service employees face constant backlash from frustrated customers and often work through stressful shifts. This can take a toll on their mental health and job performance. A simple “have a good day” or a “thank you” can go a long way and will guarantee you kindness from your barista or server in return.  

I hope that whoever has read this column throughout the semester has learned a few tips about making delicious coffee at home, has developed a new order at Dunkin’ or Starbucks and has ventured out to local coffee shops to try something new! 

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