The Magical Art of Ordering Coffee. A How To Guide:

“I’ll have a venti, no foam, mocha latte, with half whole milk, half coconut milk, extra hot, but not above 202 degrees, made with split quad shots (1 ½ shots decaf, 2 ½ shots regular), a pump of regular mocha syrup, 2 pumps of sugar free syrup, 2 packets of Splenda, 1 sugar in the raw, light whip, a dash of cinnamon, and caramel drizzle. OH, and I’d like it double cupped to go, with a lid, 2 stirrers, and 3 napkins.”

Ever been behind someone at Starbucks with an order like this? What ever happened to just ordering GOOD coffee? At a time of Cold Brew, Nitro, Bulletproof Coffee, and a super specialty craft everything, a “normal” cup of coffee feels extinct. In a land where you can find a Starbucks on every block and a hip café frequented by coffee know it alls, who wouldn’t be caught dead at Starbucks or drinking a Folgers, the task of making old-school coffee remotely cool seems impossible. And that, presumably, is why Maxwell House isn’t even trying. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure that I’m sold even though it’s a good laugh.

Assuming that this doesn’t appeal to you and your goal is to reach ultimate coffee snobbery or, even the skills of just ordering like a “normal” person. I have provided a “how to” guide for ordering coffee.

How To Order Coffee and not sound like a Goober.  

STEP 1: Go into a coffee shop. Before Approaching the counter figure out what you want. In fact, knowing what you want before you go in helps too.

*Pro Tip: Don’t do stuff like: “I’ll have a skinny mocha…actually make that a cappuccino, OMG I was trying to be good. David, should we have a cheat day? WAIT! Can I have a iced green tea instead? And a pumpkin loaf. Or no, ummmm, a black coffee with a little bit of almond milk, and scratch that loaf, I don’t need the carbs! Actually—–”

If you insist on the crazy magical cookie, mocha, marshmallow, swirls you can order off the Starbucks Secret Menu. The Starbucks “Secret Menu” isn’t a weirdo coffee conspiracy plot, nor is it an actual, hidden menu. It’s a way to order customized, unique new concoctions like the “Oatmeal latte” or “Rainbow Coffee”, using the ingredients Starbucks already has. To make use of it, you’ll need to know your order ahead of time, and be ready to give some directions to the barista. The folks at Starbucks are brilliant when it comes to creative marketing campaigns and the idea of having a secret menu is spreading as an engagement tool to connect with customers. “If you have a secret menu customers feel like they’re insiders. They feel a personal connection to the restaurant; like they know something that not everybody else does. And everyone loves that.” says Bret Thorn, editor of Nation’s Restaurant News.


STEP 2. PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE and greet the barista. Did I say put your phone down?!

*Pro Tip: Barista: The bartender of the coffee bar. The trained specialist of all things coffee.

STEP 3. Clearly and concisely state your order.

*Pro Tip: Guide to types of coffee drinks:

Americano: Espresso mixed with same parts hot water

Café au Lait: 1/3 coffee with 2/3 hot frothed milk

Macchiato: Hot frothed milk with espresso on top

Cappuccino: Mixed with 1/3 espresso, 1/3 hot milk, 1/3 foam

Clean: Coffee that is free of any flavor shots or flavor defects (aka, black)

Dark Roast: Darker than traditional American coffee

Espresso: A roast of coffee where hot water is pressed through a compressed bed of ground coffee

Doppio: Double shots of espresso

Quad: 4 shots of espresso (if you are brave)

Drip: Brewing methods that allows hot water to settle through a bed of ground coffee

Dry: A drink with frothed milk only but more foam, less milk

Wet: NOT dry, less foam more milk.

Solo: A drink made with one shot of espresso, regardless of the size




STEP 4. Wait patiently without micromanaging.

*Pro Tip: Don’t give a fake name like Ivanna Tinkle or Seymore Butts just to hear the barista (remember this term?) call it out loud. Chances are, she (or he) will catch on and make you something scary.

Scary like this coffee that was banned for the disturbing side effects for being Stiff Bull. Talk about product FAIL!  **CENSORSHIP WARNING

Or perhaps even put a stick of butter in your coffee. Although this has been a pretty popular trend known for it’s energizing and diet enhancing affects.

Bullet Proof Coffee


STEP 5: When your drink is ready, collect it from the barista and say thank you.

*Pro Tip: Wait to take the coffee selfie until you are completely out of the way. If there is one piece of useful coffee etiquette you can leave here with it’s, never make a coffee snob wait too long for their coffee.

STEP 6: Choose a comfy place to sit and relax. You did it!

*Pro Tip: Take a deep breathe and think about how awesome life is!

Not only did you conquer the art of coffee ordering, you just paid someone to make coffee for you, which probably means you have at least $5 in disposable income! WINNING!
AND, On the way home  make sure you don’t text and drive. You could end up with an extra $5 dollar coffee free of charge, if you live in Japan that is.

In Japan, Toyota is teaming up with telecomms company KDDI and coffee shop chain Komeda to offer free coffee in return for good driving habits. The marketing campaign serves as a social campaign, letting customers know that Toyota cares about them and invests in safe driving. Users open up the Driving Barista app, hop in the car and place their phone face down for the trip’s duration. The app counts the distance the driver travels, and once they hit 100 kilometers (about 60 miles), it alerts you that there is a free cup of coffee from Komeda Coffee, a popular Japanese coffeehouse chain. Drivers have the opportunity to get another free cup every time they travel an additional 200 kilometers. Bribery! Genius!

Thanks for reading, I hope you aquired some valuable coffee ordering skills. Now that we got that out of the way, I think I’ll go to a happy place and get coffee with unicorns:

“I’ll have the mocha frappe unicorn latte with coconut milk please.”

9 thoughts

  1. Your article is thorough and interesting!!

    Reading your article reminds me one of my friend. He loves customized order ( what you called “Secret Menu) in Starbuck so he took a picture of ingredients and steps every time. From then, he only had to show them the pictures and he surprised me that Starbucks could make drink on the color you like: Pink Drink, White Drink…
    Lastly, I think this is a great way for Starbucks to enhance customer engagement and customer relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve actually heard of the Starbucks secret menu but never really looked into it until recently. I’ve heard friends talking about it as well and I’ve seen posts on Instagram about it. It definitely is a great way to engage customers. I just feel sorry for the baristas sometimes! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Loved this and how you organized it. I’m definitely guilty of ordering a few complicated drinks in my day. I loved the campaign that they are doing in Japan! That is such a great incentive to get drivers to stop texting. Hopefully they will bring that idea over to the US, because we definitely need it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Never knew the intricacies of coffee. Thank you for the step by step tutorial. Been stuck behind one of those OCD peeps ordering a crazy coffee. They never get it right and always have to make it again. More fun to watch the second go around while I drink my simple black coffee. 😬

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! I’ve actually seen a barista in tears because of the crazy orders. I love how Maxwell House tries to simplify things by being good. Not sure if that’s enough to sway me but there are still plenty of us that like a “simple black coffee”.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is great! I am an avid coffee drinker and I didn’t know all of the break downs of different orders. Maxwell house really needs to figure out something new. Their coffee really isn’t very good and your right, they dont seem to be trying

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Yeah I feel like they could maybe try to do an umbrella brand or add a upscale version to the existing line. Even just updating the logo and artwork would make a big difference. At the very least the campaign was amusing.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s