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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.
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