I love regulars. People who love the place where I work enough to come multiple times a week make me extraordinarily happy. To put it into perspective, I spend 60% of my time at work 30% of my time at school and more than 9% of my time with friends and less than 1% of my time in my bed. That means that the people who spend their time in my cafe are the most consistent parts of my life. Some of them I love in a special way- like the guy who sleeps in the corner or the lady who wears glitter and floral jumpers every day of the week. Most of them remind me how amazing people can be. But some of them can be weird. They can be very weird. So, as a regular and a person who has regulars, let me tell you a few do’s and certain don’ts.
Ask your barista questions.
Stick to questions that pertain to things you obviously have in common- i.e. coffee, hair texture, sleep deprivation. Make connections. Give your barista a chance to get know you without telling her your whole life story in a few brief interactions at the counter. Short conversations are the key. If your barista doesn’t feel like she has to remember what your childhood dog’s name was, she’ll be more likely to remember your name or order.
Ask your barista mega personal questions.
It isn’t outrageous to ask your barista personal questions 100% of the time. However, you wouldn’t approach a stranger sitting at a table and ask them what his mother’s name is and where she went to high school. In the same way, you should not walk up to the counter and ask your barista personal questions out of the blue. Questions like “where do you go to school” are only appropriate if your barista has mentioned something that would obviously imply that they are seeking further education. If you saw your barista at a concert last week, it’s okay to let them know, but don’t ask the names and relationships of the people you saw her with. Its creepy.
Be friendly with your barista.
It’s my job to be friendly. The people who consistently make that easy for me to do are my favorites. I can remember peoples’ names and drinks when they help me out. If you don’t already know, hospitality is tough. Odds are that by the time you walk in to a coffee shop, your barista has already been talked down to, disrespected, or had to sell the last chocolate chip cookie when they really really wanted it. So when he smiles and asks you how you are, answer him. Then ask him how he’s doing and wait until he answers to begin ordering. Be courteous and patient because I promise we’re trying. It is important, however, not to take this tip too far.
Be too friendly with you barista.
Like I said: it’s our job to be friendly. But sadly, being friendly doesn’t automatically mean that you are best friends with your barista. You’ve got to be patient. We see 1000 people a day. Don’t be heartbroken if you see your barista in Trader Joe’s and she obviously doesn’t remember your name. It doesn’t mean you aren’t valued, but you must know where you stand. Avoid Facebook friend requests until your barista is aware that you do, in fact, know her first and last name. Also understand that the personal information that you volunteer to your barista, especially when that information wasn’t asked for, doesn’t have to be reciprocated. I don’t need to know how much your dog’s medication costs, and you don’t need to know how much I owe in student debt. There is a such thing as knowing too much…
It is important that you feel comfortable in your favorite cafe. Most of that comfort is directly related to the way you interact with the person at the counter. Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t gotten a Christmas card from your barista yet. Maybe we haven’t exchanged phone numbers yet, but I promise, you make my day. And I hope it makes your day when I write your name on your cup before you remind me.