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Beyond The Pass | Yes, Your Barista Is Judging You

Beyond The Pass | Yes, Your Barista Is Judging You

What does your coffee order say about you?

If your headspace is anything like mine, this will be a question that you’ve asked yourself more times than you’d like to admit, and it will come as no comfort to you that yes, the person taking your order will be judging you.

There’s no way around it really; it’s the human condition.

Whether we want to, or not, when we take your order, everything you ask us for comes with some stigma attached to it, and whilst some items might invoke a more spirited judgement than others, it’s always there, lurking about in our minds, like a customer service version of Chumbawamba.

So, what does your order say about you?

I guess you’ll just have to click that little ‘Continue reading’ button below to find out. Or don’t, if you want to live in blissful ignorance.

The choice is yours.

Milk coffees

Nothing, really, so long as it’s just a standard flatty, latte, cappuccino, or pic, there’s no judgement going on on our end. It’s when the modifications start coming in that we start drawing conclusions.

On the lower-end of the scale, there’s the extra shot. We get it, it’s early and you need as much caffeine pumped into your veins as possible; we’re the same when we’re waking up, only we had our first coffee of the day hours ago. It’s when the extra shots start piling up that the judgement really starts. It’s not a competition, and if it was, we’d blow your three or four shots out of the water, trust me.

Next up is alternative milks.

Now, I know soy milk was first to the game, and you’ve been drinking it for years, but you’ve got to be wondering by now if it’s trying to tell you something when it immediately curdles as soon as it hits some espresso, right?

And I know there are ways around it, and I’m very good at them myself (bit of a ‘root-toot-ta-toot’ on my own horn there), but a barista shouldn’t have to battle against nature to ensure a liquid remains fluid because you’re too stuck in your ways to accept reality. Just try another milk, or drink it black, that way you won’t need cutlery to enjoy your coffee.

And if you have soy milk in anything smaller than a flatty, like a pic or (who hurt you?) a macchiato, we’re judging you harder than Judy Sheindlin, and it would be best for all parties concerned if you just turned and left.

Almond milk will only see you looked down upon by staunch eco-warriors because of just how much water is consumed to make the stuff. But most of the time we figure you were probably unaware and we’re just happy it’s not soy.

Oat milk is for the elite vegan/lactose intolerant amongst us who still wants a little milk in their java. From a barista’s stand point, it pours like a dream and we’re thankful to you for being better than the Bonsoy crowd.

Skim milk is an alternative milk in my eyes and any cafe worth its salt hasn’t stocked it in years. We just nod and say ‘thank you’ when you order it, and then go ahead and make your coffee on full cream because it’s easier than having an argument with somebody over the fat content of milk in an 8oz drink.Skim milk isn't milk

Black coffees

Welcome, brothers & sisters!

If you drink black coffee, you’re family. 

Long blacks are good if you want a similar volume to a milky bloke, so they’re a good start if you’re looking to go dark, but there is a better black coffee out there, if you want to ease into it a little better: filter.

Now, the Americans have all but ruined filter coffee in our antipodean eyes, with their terrible pots of ‘French roast’ (whatever that means) and clichéd diner refills. But trust me when I tell you, if your cafe is offering filter, they’re probably going to know what they’re doing. A good filter will be light, almost floral compared to a longy, meaning a smooth cup awaits. Believe me, the only ill will coming at you from our end when you order a filter will be if we have to make a fresh batch, or if you put sugar in it (if you do put sugar in it, please see the above section about soy milk, and never darken our doors again).

Espressos are always welcomed, not least because we can usually have the other side, regardless of how many coffees we’ve already had. That’s also why, if we know you, we’ll usually throw you a ‘spro’ or two on the house from time to time. Just try not to get too hectic about the tasting notes, or we’re probably going to think you’re a try-hard and we’ll talk about you behind your back. Also try to restrain yourself from going too over the top; a double espresso (or doppio, if you think you’re God) is fine, but anything above that starts to get a bit silly. You’re not a tiramisu.

The kids menu

This section covers anything we’d consider to be something a child would order regularly, and as much as this might sting, I’m including mochas in here, so get the Savlon ready.

Why mochas? Well look, I reckon it’s a safe assumption to think that we all started off drinking mochas, right? It’s the perfect entry-level drink when you’re crossing over to the coffee-drinkers side. And don’t get me wrong, they’re delicious and I always made an effort to make mine with the best chocolate buttons I could find (pro tip: use cooking chocolate and melt it in when you steam the milk). But it’s still a coffee with a bunch of chocolate mixed in, and we’re all waiting for you to bite the bullet and graduate to a cap with two sugars (which will make us think you’re a tradie, but it’s at least a step up, right?).

Hot chocolates though? These are acceptable as a special treat, or if it’s raining outside and you want the closest thing to a hug that you can get from a surly stranger behind a coffee machine. If you drink them any more regularly than that, it’s about as creepy as seeing a grown adult with one of those massive, rainbow lollipops, and I’m thinking about calling the cops.Calling the cops on a hot chocolate drinker

Baby chinos were something I was initially against because they ruined my flow and wasted so much milk. However, as soon as I owned the place and I was paying for everything, I realised that two baby chinos paid for an entire bottle of milk and I wished that every order had one. Plus, after becoming a parent I came to know their power in helping the little ones shut up for a few minutes, and at this point in time I see them as essential to the ambience of any cafe.


If you order tea, we’re not going to judge you much at all. It’s when you start talking to us about it that we start to lose interest because we’re almost all about coffee, and tea just seems like hot cordial. Again, I’d always ensured I had good quality loose-leaf in my place, but that was the limit of my care.

Chai is fairly risk-free on your end, just don’t ask for it to be strong because that much honey-soaked tea won’t fit into the designated ‘chai jug’, and I’ll know I’m likely about to get hot, fragrant milk all over my hands. Not that I mind, chai smells what I imagine Hogwarts smells like, minus the teenage B.O. It might also come as a shock to you that it can be made on any milk (it doesn’t always have to be soy), but beware of coconut milk because that’s about a teaspoon and a half of Keens away from being butter chicken.

Cold drinks

I suppose I should touch on cold drinks too, whilst we’re all here.

If you ask for a Coke in a half-decent cafe, we’re immediately going to think tradie again, and then we’ll get a bit nervous about trying to upsell you one of our $6 boutique soft drinks.

Kombucha is great, but we’re probably only going to be enthusiastic about it if we’re making it ourselves, in which case, get ready for a brief lecture on SCOBYs and white sugar.

Milkshakes are for kids, and if you order one as an adult, I’m going to assume you still live at home in your 40’s. Same goes for if you want your iced coffee to have ice cream in it. Smash an iced latte, or go to Messina (they’re very good). 

And if you really want to cop as much judgement as possible, get one of these on an alternative milk. There’s no amount of convincing us that your lactose intolerance doesn’t extend to ice cream that will make us think of you as anything but a fraud, and we’ll dislike you strongly for lying to our faces for the remainder of all time. Same goes for skim; go hard or go home (plus, as mentioned earlier, we 100% don’t have it).

Cold brew is elite, and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees with me on that.

And if you order a San Pel, my mind will immediately go to ‘boomer’ and I’ll ready myself for an hour of petty complaints.

So, spare me your calls of ‘the customer is always right’ etc. I don’t care. I’m content to live in a fantasy that every order will be a flatty, an espresso, and a babychino, and I’ll don my tie wig and grab a hold of the nearest gavel before you’ve even finished paying because I, like all of you, am a human, and I can’t help myself.

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