Let This Flowchart Predict Your Coffee Order

June 29, 2015

Follow this flowchart to see if baristas really can guess your coffee order.

I have a theory that baristas can read minds. Let me preface this by saying my go-to "coffee" order is something along the lines of a "caramel latte with extra sugar; hold the coffee." But when I'm with coffee-minded people (ahem, Food52 editors), I try to veer from my child-approved drink. This usually consists of two panicked seconds of scanning the menu before landing on something that sounds sophisticated, like an iced coffee or a flat white. This is around the time that the barista will give me a look that says something along the lines of, "Are you sure you don't want the caramel macchiato with extra whipped-cream?" Yes, yes I do.

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So I decided to test my theory and called up two baristas, Sharon Kazes of Seven Grams Caffe and Claire Wampler of Joe Coffee, and they revealed to me that while they are unable to read minds, there are several tell-tale signs that indicate a customer's order. And Sharon's gotten really good at this guessing game—it's how she wooed her wife: On their first date, her wife agreed to a second date if Sharon could guess her post-dinner coffee order—and this month they're celebrating their third anniversary. (It was a cappuccino, extra shot, almond milk, no sugar—in case you were wondering.) As for her customers, Sharon says that in her experience, roughly one-third of people pushing strollers order an iced latte—straws are easier for hands-free childcare. And Claire noticed that local New Yorkers are either experts or have little to no coffee knowledge, while tourists almost always opt for a plain drip coffee.

Take a look at this chart, compiled from some of Sharon and Claire's observations, to see if baristas can guess your coffee order (or to find a new go-to):


Were they right? Tell us in the comments below!

Graphic by Tim McSweeney

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Elt Ag
    Elt Ag
  • Bruce McClelland
    Bruce McClelland
  • J Warren
    J Warren
  • Liz Bearheart
    Liz Bearheart
  • Diane Goodwin
    Diane Goodwin
I eat everything.


Elt A. August 27, 2018
what type of coffee for a headache :( or I should say left eye ache.
Bruce M. March 17, 2016
Sorry. All paths lead to a double espresso, ristretto if possible. I can drink a doppio at 10 pm and be asleep by 11. Worst case, French press if no one has an heat-exchange espresso machine around.
J W. March 17, 2016
Completely wrong!! During morning or evening, I drink a medium coffee with extra half-n-half and Splenda. After having bariatric surgery, it is one of the few enjoyments I have. The great part is that I am not kept awake by the coffee even at bed time.
Liz B. March 16, 2016
Well, as much as I like to imagine that I can't be labeled; this chart pretty much was spot on for me!
Diane G. March 16, 2016
They got me SO wrong. I'm a tired mum who yawns a lot, but if I'm ever in NYC it's as a visitor - but I'd never order anything with a straw or with cream & sugar. Flat white sometimes (& I'm not a millennial, but did live in Australia for several years) or whatever is on for Chemex/v60/aeropress.
Emma December 8, 2015
I second the Dirty Chai comment!
Kimberly L. October 31, 2015
Not so much, but it was fun nonetheless. And perhaps it's telling me I should move to NYC? :)
RAHG October 9, 2015
Where is my Dirty Chai?
Jake I. October 9, 2015
It missed, so I took another take on it. I found my two most typical orders and looked at the matching assumptions. 1)It's cold out, in the morning, I am an NYC Local who looked at the specialty coffees, and am a smoker
Because Americano
2)It is hot out, in the morning, I am yawning alot, and just worked out
for Cold Brew
Shelley October 9, 2015
Cold drink...correct! Iced mocha. Hot drink...not so much. Black dark roast or triple Grande nonfat latte of some sort. :) Strong work, baristas!
aussiefoodie July 12, 2015
So why are millennialist more likely to order a flat white? I was pretty excited to find Flat Whites on NYC coffee boards when I visited and I'm not a millennial!
Leslie S. July 13, 2015
Sharon mentioned that the vast majority of people who order flat whites in the US are in their early twenties or are Australian (it's still trendy and new here, and isn't as popular as it is in Australia yet!). But of course this doesn't mean that this applies to everyone! :)
FJT July 1, 2015
No! If I'm in a coffee shop I'll always order a flat white regardless of the weather and (apparently) my age!
Leslie S. July 1, 2015
I'm new to the flat white thing but learning to love them!
Jeff K. June 29, 2015
Not even close.
Leslie S. June 29, 2015
Darn! What was our guess and what's your go-to order?
Jeff K. June 29, 2015
Your guess: Coffee with cream & sugar or iced latte
My go-to to-go: Iced decaf, black. All year round.
Leslie S. June 29, 2015
Looks like they missed the mark on that one!
ParkerNolita June 29, 2015
Hmmm. I don't like most of the drinks listed on this chart. :)
I almost always make coffee at home in the morning with the Chemex and that'd be the only coffee I drink for the day. And If I do go to a coffee shop I order cappuccino with heavy cream.
Sharyce N. June 29, 2015
Nope...vanilla latte extra shot to go
Leslie S. June 29, 2015
Always a delicious choice :)
Timothy M. June 29, 2015
Unfortunately this doesn't work for me as I get a hot black coffee all day, all the time.
swagv June 29, 2015
Sorry, but coffee is no more food than heroin is. I don't see any heroin articles on Food52, so what gives?
Catherine June 29, 2015
Leslie S. June 29, 2015
Well shoot! What is your order usually and what did we guess?
James June 29, 2015
When I used to drink coffee, I couldn't drink coffee for a couple of hours after a workout.
Leslie S. June 29, 2015
I'm the same but apparently when people are post-workout coffee drinkers, they grab a cold brew!
Daniel T. June 29, 2015
I did both a hot and cold outside. My hot was correct at cappuccino. My cold was almost correct at herbal tea or hot chocolate. Correct would be herbal tea, but usually a soy latte. Fun though!
Leslie S. June 29, 2015
So close!! The baristas found that in the evening, unless people are gearing up for a late night studying or working, they usually opt for something non-caffeinated but looks like you're an exception to that rule! Glad it half worked!