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Rules of Engagement: Starbucks

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Ah, Starbucks. Now, look: I don't drink aside from the social cocktail or two. I don't smoke. I don't take drugs that aren't prescribed – heavily – by my doctor. But I am 100% addicted to the 'Bucks. And since there is one on every street corner, it's only natural that some unwritten rules come into play.

#1: Figure out your order before stepping up.

#2: It's OK to say "small/medium/large". Don't worry about the tall/grande/venti thing and ignore the eye-rolls.

#3: Don't invade the barista's space! Grabbing the soy milk from their counter or, god forbid, grabbing your drink before they serve it to you, is just plain rude.

#4: Do check on your order, but only if a reasonable amount of time has passed. If you just put in your venti green tea frapp and you don't see it within 10 seconds, calm down. Blended drinks take a little longer.

#5: Be nice to your barista. If they like you, they've been known to add a little extra ice or give you a freebie if you've been waiting too long, or whatever.

#6: Don't hog the milk station. Just grab your straw and step to the side. If you need to stir in cinnamon, 2% milk, sugar, and dump 1/2 of that into a grande cup of ice…we hate you.

#7: When ordering: Get. Off. Your. Cell. Phone.

#8: We know you're cyber-commuting on your Mac, sitting at that table there, but if it's super crowded, just pretend you're still drinking that latte. (Confidential to Beard Guy: turn off the porn.)

I feel like I have to clarify #1, about figuring out your order in advance. I think we all have a threshold when it comes to the amount of time we'll wait on line. And as a group, we're patient enough to wait even if someone has a question about the item they're purchasing or wants to change their order.


If you're chatting up the cashier about the types of berries in the low-fat crumb muffin, or where those silly size names came from, or asking if the chain was named after the Battlestar Galactica character…you're taking up too much time. Keeping caffeine addicts away from their first cup of $5 joe is a dangerous move and I don't recommend it.

And about #7 (get off the cell phone when ordering): In an informal poll of a few Facebook friends and a sassy barista, this was the most popular. Come on, people! Are you so uncomfortable with yourself that you have to look like you're important/needed/popular for the 30 seconds it takes to order? I hate to break it to you, knowing you're all sensitive and stuff, but life will go on without you. And if the conversation is SO important (death, near-death, someone trapped under a large object, or death-wishes), then you really shouldn't be on line at Starbucks anyway.

It's not that we're java snobs. In fact, my drink of choice isn't even coffee. (It's an iced-venti soy chai, thankyouverymuch.) And I'm not here to just pick on the customers: I've witnessed some barista shit-crockery myself. As consumers, we're all in the same sandbox and need to play along a little better. Just don't keep us from our caffeinated I.V. drip first thing in the morning, OK?

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About Kate Rados