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Category Archives: Espressos, Americanos and Filter

Sunday, Bloody Sunday.

It’s been a long time coming folks! The latest post! And it’s extra long and full of vitriol! Enjoy!

 

There’s just something about Sundays that sucks arse. Big time. The clearest and simplest reason is that you’re serving people who are spending time (not quality time, but time nonetheless) with their families and friends. Which just reminds you that you are not.

Or it could be that people are just massive wankers on Sundays.

Examples, you say? Why, of course.

 

The Hungover Arsehole

 

‘Give me a fiveshot black Americano.’

‘You’re welcome’

‘Are you being SNIPPY with me? I have a HANGOVER!’

 

Oh, I’m sorry, did I miss the part where having an overabundance of alcohol in your system means social norms don’t apply to you? And maybe if you’re so fucking hungover you shouldn’t have DRIVEN to the coffee shop. Or maybe you should have had a shower. That would have made you feel better. And the rest of us would really appreciate it.

 

These aren’t really too bad. Usually, you look a bit affronted, then they get all bashful and go ‘sorry, raging hangover’ and together you laugh at why a thirty five year-old man still can’t figure out how to hold his drink. It’s a delightful bonding exercise.

 

Except, there’s The Drunk Arsehole.

 

‘OI LOVE! OI! YOU! YEAH! YOU! DARLIN’! WANNA GO ON A  DATE?’

‘I want to get you a cup of coffee.’

‘THAT’S LIKE A DATE INNIT?’

‘Do you normally pay your dates?’

‘…I’ll have a black coffee. Two sugars.’

 

The worst of these was the bigoted, homophobic, racist moron dancing around with a broom and a traffic cone on his head, shouting insults. The best was the confused tipsy man who walked in after a Christmas party and asked if he was anywhere near Leicester Square. That was the last place he remembered from the night before. Staff parties. Lethal. (Note: He was about 15 miles out of central London).

 

 

Now, none of these compare with the families. Or, more especially:

 

 

The One-Day-a-Week-Dads.

 

The worst thing about this particular specimen of customer is that they’re not always divorced dads who don’t really know how to bond with their kid in the limited time they have. That, maybe, I can understand. They buy the kids everything they could possibly eat or drink in the hopes that providing will make them the world’s best father. That’s fine, good luck to you.

It’s the ones who aren’t separated that drive me nuts. You’re looking after your children for AN HOUR. And you don’t know the dimensions of the buggy so you keep bashing into people, and you wait in a queue, telling the kid to be quiet so you can phone Mummy and ask if dear little Tarquin is allergic to nuts or dairy.

 

THIS IS YOUR KID. Stop treating it like a one day training exercise. Yes, we do babychinos. Yes, it’s just froth. Yes, chocolate has dairy in it. No, your wife doesn’t normally give your kid chocolate cake at eight in the morning. Yes, I can get you a high chair. No, it’s not adjustable. Yes, a chocolate cream has chocolate in it. No, we don’t do sugar-free caramel.

No, I’d rather little Timmy didn’t hold up a queue of fifteen people because you want him to put the card in the machine because your wife said it’s good for his motor functions. Now we have to reset cash register. Thanks. At times like this, I miss your wife. And that’s saying something, because she’s a vindictive spoilt cow who talks to me like I’m a moron. But at least she knows what she wants to fucking drink.

 

And don’t spend fifteen minutes lecturing me on why you don’t want to pay for extra shots of coffee, just to insist on a take away bag for your cake, and EAT IT OFF THE TABLE. What, you’re sitting there on an ipad but you refuse to spend twenty pence so you can have a plate? No, go ahead, please hold up an entire slew of people to ensure your child gets ‘the best possible babychino, in a bigger cup’ (who knew dick-swinging could apply to childcare?) but then sit and ignore the kid by having loud, obnoxious phone conversations with Larry at the office. And then sit waiting desperately for your wife to appear, only to hold up your darling demon child, and show her he’s still breathing and everything.

So you both toddle out, happy that you have proven your interest in your mini-me, and I am left with the destruction you have caused. The bits of tissue dear little Joel has shredded, the crumbs of carrot cake he decided to press into the sofas. The stickers on the floor, the chocolate milk sprayed across the windows, and in general, enough mess to warrant three cleaners and a forensics team.

 

Now I’m not saying all our dads are like this. We have a few stay-at-homes who come in every day, collect their coffee, allow their very polite children to ask for some water, and then quietly entertain them for an hour or so. These people are lovely. But they do not come in on Sundays. Because they, in their infinite wisdom, know that arseholes are about.

 

Oh, and a special shout out to the Sunday Dad who came in ten minutes before closing, ordered a drink, dithered about making me change said drink and then said I looked tired. When I pointed out I’d just worked a ten hour shift, he said ‘Oh yes, that would make you tired. I’ve spent all day watching TV.’

Did I go off about how I have two degrees, and am now going off to my second of three jobs after I finish that shift? Nope. Instead, I decided to pity someone who wastes a Sunday in such a manner.

So go forth readers, enjoy good coffee, make good children. And for fuck’s sake, don’t waste a Sunday!

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Mr Stingy (Or…How Refusing to Waste a Twenty Five Pence Discount Makes You the Least Appealing Human Ever)

 

I’ll start with the fact that I am so very good at my job (the projecting an image of a sane and friendly human being part, not just the making coffee part) that this man thinks I like him. Not even just ‘like him as a customer’ like him. He thinks I’m giddy as a child when he walks through the door. Which means he’s as bad at interpreting a grimace as he is at spending money.

 

Well, you'd be smiling too if you were shagging Nathan Fillion. And eating pie all the time.

He comes in every weekend to moan about the same thing. We used to do a promotion. Buy some coffee beans, get a free drink. That promotion is now over. It has been over for a while. And whilst other customers may have been a little sad that their freebie was gone, no-one was as bothered as this guy. Which is why EVERY week we heard the SAME argument. ‘But why? Why is it gone? I deserve to have it! Why should I no longer get a free drink just because you’ve removed the promotion?’

 

'i'm watching you'

Firstly, nothing happens because WE do anything. You want to bitch about making nationwide-changes to a promotion that happens in hundreds of stores across the UK, you call head office. You don’t bitch at someone who makes minimum wage and pretty much just exists to do the bidding of both bosses and customers. That makes no sense. Yes, democracy means we can all make a difference, but whilst coffee monkeys can vote, attend demonstrations and have their own opinions, they aren’t really qualified to argue about why something that’s costing a company money should exist, just so a snooty little man from East-Jesus-Nowhere-Town can get his free drink.

 

No-one like a scrooge. Or a stingy duck

We’re BORED of this now, ya hear? We don’t give a flying fuck. You’re in here buying your coffee anyway. You’re ALWAYS in here, despite the lack of free drink. You know how we know this? Because you’re ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT THIS. If it was up to me I’d give you a free drink just so you’d stop talking about how the shop in Dagenham gave you a free drink, or the one in Newham, or Milton Keynes. They probably gave you the drinks because they wanted you to go away. Also, if you are going to these places on a regular basis, you probably have bigger problems than missing out on free coffee, because it’s very likely your life sucks. Everything else in Milton Keynes does.

 

He then comes in for a ‘business meeting’, which as far as I can tell is two overly pompous men drinking pretentious coffees and looking at graphs on an iPad, whilst looking up every thirty seconds to check if people can see how important they are. But what do I know, I’m not a business person. Mr Stingy offers to buy his colleague’s drink, which allowed him to raise a few notches from ‘very annoying person’ to ‘very annoying person who hasn’t mentioned his free drink in two days’.

 

I should mention that whilst he’s been moaning about this, he has been ‘arranging’ his drink order in such a way that he thinks he’s getting one over on us. Ordering espresso shots with hot water, instead of a black Americano, which saves about a pound. Then he brings in his own cup. That saves him 25p. The man is clearly saving for retirement.

 

He orders his friend’s drink in a mug, then sadly sighs. ‘I’d quite like to have my drink in a mug as well, today.’

‘Well, we can absolutely do that for you, sir!’ I chirp with very well hidden self-loathing.

‘No! No, I couldn’t do that! I couldn’t waste twenty five pence!’

Waste? WASTE? How are you wasting a discount? You’re not spending an extra twenty five pence…I…uh…you have an IPAD. Unless you paid for it over three years saving up the ‘own cup’ discount I can’t see the fucking point.

This is the sad, sad story of a man who couldn’t bear to waste twenty five pence. Which, to be fair, is the only legitimate discount he should be getting. He then explained what his job is. One that earns approximately eight times my yearly salary. So, if anything, Mr Stingy, you should be giving ME free coffee. Yeah. How’d you like that rationale? Because it makes entirely as much sense as yours. No-one likes a cheapskate. Especially a cheapskate rich person.

 

But...this is super cute. Look! Look how cute it is!

Mr ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend’

 

Mr ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend’

Every now and then, there’s a certain customer at a certain time of day who just emotionally kicks the shit out of you. And I usually expect it, when it comes to extra shots of coffee, or busy businessmen, or sleep-deprived mothers. I do NOT expect it from average old men who could probably be my grandfather. I also don’t expect their emotional shit-kicking to come in the shape of etiquette lessons.

No, YOU have a great day, cute winking dog!

Take note:

Seemingly Nice Old Man: I want a double espresso for here.

Me: Okay, that’s £1.80. How’s your day going?

Seemingly Nice Old Man: Look, you were friendly enough when you smiled as you took my order. I don’t need you to ask how my day is. I don’t want to share the details of my day with you.

Me: (without changing from cheery chipmunk voice) Not a problem at all Sir, here’s your coffee.

 

Now, okay, if he doesn’t want to share, he doesn’t have to. I’m not asking him to come to couples therapy and get his Kumba-Yah-Yahs out. I’m being polite. As defined by the terms of my contract. Because it’s my job to ask how his day is. And when people say shit like that, it doesn’t actually make me want to spit blood, it just makes me want to curl up in a ball, burst into tears and ask whatever deity exists WHY people are SO SHIT.

 

Does he think actually give a flying fuck about his day? I don’t know him. He’s ordering an espresso. He’s wearing average clothes, and I can’t even recall his face. All I can recall is the derision in his voice. And really, Mr Average, just fuck you. Because your meaningless little life is just that- meaningless.

You will live as a grumpy old man, and eventually no-one will ask you how you are, because all the people who are paid to do so will have topped themselves or run away screaming. And the people who aren’t paid to do so PROBABLY DON’T CARE.

 

See,if it was HIM ordering, I wouldn't have asked, because I know he's a badass.

And yes, you have to strain to remember all the lovely people throughout the day who make work worth it. The smiles and the jokes and the regular customers who not only are pleased that you’ve asked about their day, but ask about yours. Because they recognise, oh, what’s that, that I’m HUMAN BEING. And just as you deserve the right to shrug or go ‘okay’ if I ask how your day is, I deserve the right to not be treated like a fucking insurance scammer just by enquiring as to your general well being.

Let’s be clear: I am not trying to steal your identity. I am not trying to seduce you. I am not trying to weasel my way into your life so that you sign over your worldly possessions to me and then I’ll poison you. I am not looking for a father figure. I am not looking for spiritual enlightenment. I am not particularly interested in you.

 

I AM JUST (Say it with me!) DOING MY FUCKING JOB.

This whole ‘friendly’ thing seems to be attracting a lot of people. People who think I want to shag them. At least 90% of the time, this is not the case. If I ask how your day is, it does not start some sort of caffeinated power struggle. Let me outline the situation here: You want coffee. I provide you with the coffee. I do this in a polite way, hoping that you’re having a nice day. This is, mostly, because the terms of my job insist that I do so, by ultimately because standing in silence whilst the card machine loads is unnecessarily awkward.

 

So, the next time you think that someone is butting into your life when they’d rather fuck off, please consider that it’s entirely possible they would quite like you to fuck off as well.

 

Have a nice fucking day.

If I’m Shouting, You’re Not Listening.

 

Some would say this blog is an extension of the fact that I am an unheard barista. The ignored voice expressing the plight of the everyman. You know, something nice and metaphorical like that.

But quite literally, no-one can hear me. I shout! I do! But you try balancing two milk jugs timing four and a half shots and adjusting the blender whilst screaming (politely) for someone to own up to ordering a fucking panini.

I don’t know about you, but when I go to a coffee shop (which to be fair, outside of work, is now very rare) I have gone for a purpose. I have paid for something I wish to consume. So I’m pretty bothered by whether or not it turns up.

Here is how it should go:

 

I order a heated wrap.

I pay.

I sit down.

I hear a barista announcing said wrap is ready, and I happily claim it so that I might immediately consume it.

 

This makes sense, yes? So why do people insist on ordering things, and then making me walk around the shop wailing the name of their sandwich and making uncomfortable eye contact with people who would much rather leave me alone?

I then return with the unclaimed sandwich, put it on the side, call it out a few more times to no avail. Lo and behold, five minutes later I get a ‘why haven’t you brought my sandwich yet? It’ll be cold now!’ (Assume a whiny, irritating-as-hell voice here)

It happens with drinks, too. People seem to forget that there was a queuing system when they ordered the drink, so there’s probably a queuing system in the making of it.

 

So when I shout:

‘Medium gingerbread latte to go’

and they reply

‘is this a gingerbread latte?’

and I say

yes’

they then take the drink.

 

They open the lid, throw some sugar in, take a sip, then say:

‘I don’t think this is my drink.’

‘It’s a gingerbread latte.’

 ‘I ordered a regular latte.’

Yes, that’s why you shouldn’t have taken that one. Which I now must throw away, and make a new one before I can hand over yours. Because there’s a SYSTEM. One which you’ve just fucked up by the way, thanks. Considering how English people are so good at queuing, it’s amazing that they have such trouble with the concept that they’re not the only person in the world sometimes.

Why don’t you listen? Why? Is it me? Am I actually saying it in my head? In a different language? Is my enunciation lacking? Or perhaps is it that you think anything I put on the hand-off point must be for you, because you are so special?

 

One of my favourites is when I shout out:

‘Medium Latte’

And the eager beaver standing there simply says ‘No!’

Like I’m a moron. No, actually. You’re the moron. I’m not assuming this is yours, you’re just hogging the drinks-retrieval area, and pissing off other customers as well as myself.

A special one this week was the man who made me scream out four times ‘Grande skinny Americano-one-shot-decaf-two-shots-regular’. (You try – it’s not easy!) And then I simply left it on the side.

Then he ambles over and angrily asks ‘Is this my drink then?’

‘It’s a grande-skinny-Americano-one-shot-decaf-two-shots-regular, sir.’

‘Yes, that’s mine.’

‘Well then, feel free to take it, Sir.’

I am making fifteen other drinks, I do not have time to confirm whether or not you know what you ordered. Fuck off.

‘Well you could have TOLD ME you’d made it. GOD.’ Hearing an old man emphasise certain words like a teenage girl is rather disturbing, let me tell you.

Normally I’d let it go and bitch about it here, but I replied with a ‘I called it out MULTIPLE TIMES, SIR!’ 

When really what I wanted to say was the following:

‘I’m very sorry that the volume of my drink-announcements was not to your liking, but seeing as it’s the festive season, maybe you could go fuck yourself?’

 

I have a suspicion that if I did a search on all the times I used the f-word in this blog, my mother would be rather disappointed. Perhaps I’m not quite using the vocabulary instilled in me by an English Literature degree. But perhaps by gaining a literature degree, I should be making coffee for a living. What have you got to say to that, government officials? Because I’ve got some choice words for you, as well.

Mr Not-Funny

He seems friendly enough to begin with, and he’s wearing a bright blue Hawaiian shirt, so I assume he can’t be too bad, he obviously doesn’t take himself that seriously.

He’s ordered an Americano to stay in. Simple enough.

‘Would you like milk sir?’

‘Nope, black as black is black.’

Oh, thank you ever so much for making that clear for me. I wouldn’t have realised otherwise.

‘Would you like anything else, Sir?’

‘Why would I want anything else?’ He replies, chuckling to himself. Ah, a Funny Guy. Or rather, a Not-Funny Guy who spends so much time trying to be funny that he actually just turns out to be a pain in the arse.

‘I don’t know Sir, perhaps you’d like some food, we do a variety of snacks and sandwiches.’

‘Why would I want those?’

‘Well, if you were hungry.’

‘Well I’m not.’

Well, congratu-fucking-lations. I’m so glad you’re able to distinguish between your own bodily functions. Well done.

So he pays, me and a fellow barista exchange a look of gratitude, apparently we got off easy.

But oh, no. He comes back, ‘So, how do I get hold of this wireless internet then?’

‘Well, you need a loyalty card.’

‘What’s a loyalty card?’

Okay, now who’s stupid?

I physically show him the card. ‘You top it up with five pounds, that initiates use of the internet, and you can use the money to pay for drinks.’

‘I don’t need a card to pay for drinks. I have money to pay for drinks.’ He grins.

Oh you smug bastard. Yes aren’t you clever? Who’s a clever boy? I’ll point out, that unless you work for a drug cartel, you probably have to use a card to get hold of your money at some point.

‘Well, the other advantages are you get free extras on your drinks, extra shots of coffee, free milk, whipped cream, syrups and stuff like that.’

He holds up his hand and starts ticking off on his fingers, ‘Don’t drink milk, don’t like whipped cream, I don’t want syrups, and the coffee’s strong enough. You should know, you just made my drink a few minutes ago!’

Haw, haw, chortle chortle.

‘Indeed Sir.’ I did, indeed, remember your drink, due to your sparkling personality and wit. And that whole explanation of what black coffee is, it was very enlightening Sir.

‘So, there’s no benefit for me at all for these cards? What’s the point of them?’

Well, they benefit the millions of other people in the world who buy coffee, and do drink milk, and don’t feel the need to pay for things in mysterious wads of cash.

‘Well, the internet.’

‘So I can’t have the internet without this?’

‘No.’

‘That’s unfair.’

I apologise (what for I’m still not sure, apologising for everything is a regular occurrence) and move onto the next customer, but spy him taking one of the cards anyway. So he thinks he can steal the internet.

Well, it won’t work without being paid for, and I resist the overwhelming need to shout after him ‘Excuse me Sir, you just told me that card didn’t benefit you in any way and you didn’t want to pay for it. Please return it to the front.’ Wonderful and embarrassing.

Except that in true conglomerate ‘Do anything for the customer’ idiocy, if I accuse a thief of stealing, I will probably have to make him a free drink to apologise for accusing him.

The customer is always right, after all.

I take my hat off to you, sir. You moron

Coffee with a Side of Offensive Britishness

Okay, so there are a lot of dickheads who drink coffee. Incidentally, there are also a lot of dickheads who don’t drink coffee, but still remain dickheads.

Usually, I pride myself on being able to tell what kind of person you are from your drink. If you like extra foam, you’re generally a little more fun-loving, a little kooky. Wet-latte drinkers tend to be like wet blankets, or rather, they like things quick and to the point, no fun foam getting in the way. Decaf soya types tend to do yoga and be on raw food diets, or the diet of the week. Occasionally, they’re pregnant.

Now this particular dickhead ordered a large filter coffee with a shot of espresso (a red eye) and pouring cream. What can you tell from this drink? Someone who enjoys the taste of strong coffee, who needs an extra kick of caffeine, who wants to savour it over a long period of time, and the pouring cream suggests a little bit of indulgence, taking the edge off the bitterness. Nowhere in this drinks order does anything scream ‘I’m a racist’. But a racist he was.

(I can’t really think what drink a racist would drink. Perhaps tea, two tea bags and with full fat milk?)

So this racist has decided to become a regular customer, goodness knows why. He doesn’t exactly fit in amongst the sophisticated and haughty of the area.

So he orders his ‘usual’, gets annoyed when I don’t know what his usual is (‘I was here yesterday, don’t you remember?’ ‘No Sir, I wasn’t working yesterday, you must be thinking of the other young woman with dark hair and a tan’.)

Then he starts to rant. Or rather, ‘explain’ his views. To the manager, who is English.

‘Didn’t fink there was any English people left in these jobs, innit? All them foreigners come over, take all of em. All Haww hawww heee heee, ya? Not a word of fucking English between ‘em. All chinks and blacks and the like. Are you the only proper English here?’

 

Well, as if that wasn’t horrific enough…I have to serve his drink. He turns to me:

‘What about you love, what colony you from?’

 

Now, what’s the right response here? Firstly, I plan to respond in any language other than English that I can think of, or perhaps even make one up.

 

Secondly, I consider letting him know that if the ‘proper British’ didn’t want ‘bloody foreigners’ taking their jobs, perhaps they shouldn’t have created The British Nationality Act of 1948 in which immigrants were welcomed to Britain, because the ‘proper British’ considered themselves above being dustbin men and street cleaners.

 

Instead, I emphasise my London accent, present him his drink with impeccable manners, call him Sir, infer that I speak better English than he ever will, and that he really should consider slithering away to die somewhere.

 

Well, since he’s now a regular, there’s always the chance to irritate him further. Perhaps, every day he’s in, I’ll assume a different accent, piss him off. Perhaps I’ll tell him in detail how to trace my British ancestors back however many generations. Perhaps I’ll continually get his drinks wrong and pretend it’s because I’m foreign and don’t understand.

 

Or maybe I’ll just keep telling you nice people all about it, how’s that sound?

 

 

 

Oh, and for all y’all who haven’t been bombarded by it yet, The Coffee Song:

 

 

 

 

© Cafe Disaster

 

Mr RedEye

He says it every time, leaning in and whispering it, like I’m now part of some universal secret.

‘Do you know what a Redeye is?’

The first time I furrowed my brow. Now I just nod like I’m part of the society. This is the world of the ‘serious’ coffee drinker. None of this half-shot decaf bullshit. That’s not coffee.

This is coffee. A large cup of strong filter coffee, black, with a shot of espresso.

I falter, wanting to be sure.

‘Is it one shot of espresso or two?’ Why the hell am I whispering? Are the coffee lords on high not allowed to know about this revolution, this junkie’s delight, the answer for the caffeine freaks with stressful jobs but morals. Need a lift, but refuse to do coke? Choose a RedEye!

‘It’s one,’ he smiles, like the idea of another shot would just be madness. I’m not a junkie, not a junkie, not a junkie.

I smile and hand over the change, like some secret handshake, a deal has been made. We know what real coffee is, not like you poseurs.

‘Two shots is a BlackEye,’ he whispers as he leaves, and I can’t tell if he’s joking.

But hey, a strong filter coffee and two shots of espresso? That is the equivalent of a punch in the face, isn’t it?