Coffee Shop Etiquette Part 2…

So you’ve read my previous post on coffee shop etiquette, right?


Now it’s time to look at coffee shop etiquette from the perspective of the paying side of the counter: the customer.

Let me start by saying this: if you choose to patron a specific business, do your best to be an informed consumer. A lot of people want to blame the coffee shop when things don’t turn out as they had hoped upon entering that day, but really, if they chose to inform themselves about that establishment beforehand, they would have saved themselves a lot of trouble. This is where services like Yelp, Urban Spoon, and other restaurant rating sites come in handy. Use them.

With that being said, it would still serve us well to discuss how coffee shops could do a better job of providing their customers with a positive experience. So, without further ado, here’s Coffee Shop Etiquette Part 2: Electric Boogaloo…

  1. Good coffee. This should be obvious, right? Well, it doesn’t seem so obvious to a number of shops. Now, I know that I can be a bit snobbish when it comes to my coffee, but that’s only because I like good coffee! If you’re going to invest the time and money into starting a coffee shop, be willing to invest in the best. Also, just because it’s the best does not mean it’s the most expensive. Take care of WHAT kind of beans you’re buying, as well as WHERE you’re buying them from. Nothing beats a quality product.
  2. Invest in your baristas. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered a drink, only to find that the coffee is either burnt, or the shots that have been pulled were stale. Teach them the proper techniques when it comes to pulling shots, brewing, pouring, and heck, even latte art. These things go a long way..
  3. Environment is essential. If the music is too loud, or obnoxious, you’ve already turned me off. If there are no comfy spaces to relax in, but restaurant style seating and tables, I’d really rather not. Set yourself apart from a regular restaurant, and give me a little nook I could fall asleep in while reading a novel. Also, lighting. Use it intelligently.
So that’s it. It doesn’t take a lot to make me a happy patron, but it sometimes feels like even these stipulations are too much for most coffee shops. That’s a shame.
Anything to add to this list? Give a shout in the comment section.

4 thoughts on “Coffee Shop Etiquette Part 2…

  1. In conjunction with your other post: cell phone ringtones/volume. Once you enter the shop, out of courtesy, turn down your volume on the phone or better yet, put it on vibrate (this is appropriate for almost all places of business as well). I have all to many times been startled out of a focused work fury by a cell phone that goes off that I can hear above the media in my headphones. And lets be honest, most cell phone ringtones are obnoxious. Speaking of obnoxious, what’s also rude is to ignore the fact that your phone is currently blaring a variety of Billboard Top 40 Hits and not bothering to answer or silence it.

    Also, put down the phone when placing an order. I worked at a movie theater for 4 years and customers would come in all the time on their cell phones and be irritated that we try to help them. Many of them would become frustrated when we asked a question multiple times because they weren’t paying attention to what we were asking. Others complained that we weren’t working fast enough but in reality, it took us 10 times longer to print their tickets because we had to keep on repeating what we said or wait for them to answer us. It got so bad with one lady that I finally just picked up the phone, talked to myself, and gave her the same treatment as she was giving me. She was incredibly unhappy and yelled at me for being so rude and ignorant when a customer was at my counter and I told her it was incredibly rude and ignorant of her to talk on her cell phone as I was trying to help her and other customers waited. If you expect the person behind the counter to give you their full attention, have enough courtesy to give them yours.

    One last thing, if the person is occupied with a task or another customer, don’t think that you are entitled to butt into whatever (s)he is occupied with and demand that your needs be met first. It seems like many of the etiquette problems that occur in society stem from an extreme sense of personal entitlement, lack of courtesy to others and a give-it-to-me-right-this-instant attitude.

  2. Re: Good Coffee. After spending the better part of 4 years working in coffee shops, good coffee has to be one of the biggest definers for a good, local establishment vs not so hot ones.

    I determined that if a local coffee shops pumps your regular cup out of an airpot, it’s not a good coffee shop. I don’t think Starbucks has the best cup of coffee, but it’s always fresh, hot, and had baristas care about it’s production just as much as that latte.

    If it goes in an airpot it means that regular coffee is an after thought and not really that important. You might as well just call yourself a cafe that serves expensive speciality drinks and oh by the way, we serve some random brewed coffee as well. It’s just alright.

    Also… if you don’t either roast your own beans, buying from a roaster that actually has a storefront, or source a different bean than every other local coffee shops, you’re probably doing it wrong. Where’s the effort to differentiate yourself?


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