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6 Cafe Etiquette Tips You Need to Know so You Don’t Bother Your Barista

By Marie-Antoinette Issa.

Australia’s famed coffee culture is guided by a series of subtle, unspoken rules designed to ensure that each breakfast, brunch and 3 pm-craving for a warmly brewed beverage, serves not merely as a monetary transaction, but an opportunity to engage in something more meaningful.

To ensure you get it right, we chatted with three local experts, who shared their six best tips to help you avoid your local barista's pet peeves when it comes to cafe etiquette: 

Patience Please:

"Patience goes a long way. Just because you're in a hurry, it doesn’t make you any more important than those who ordered before you," advises Andrew Ray.

Owner of Sydney’s Kafe Kooks, Ray’s previous experience has seen him work both abroad in Asia and at iconic Aussie eateries such as Chin Chin, Café Sydney and the Intercontinental Hotels Group. 
6 Cafe Etiquette Tips You Need to Know so You Don’t Bother Your Barista

"Ordering a takeaway coffee and then standing in front of the coffee machine staring at the barista isn’t going to intimidate them into getting your order done any faster," he adds. 

Andrew also advises the importance of knowing your order - before you reach the counter: "This helps keep the line moving and allows the baristas to serve everyone efficiently.”

Respect the Craft of Coffee:

Research released by Sunbeam to celebrate International Coffee Day revealed that the Aussie caffeine craze has produced a pattern of coffee snobbery. With almost 10 per cent of survey respondents admitting they were ‘embarrassed’ about a friend’s coffee order while eight per cent made assumptions about someone purely based on what type of coffee they drank.
6 Cafe Etiquette Tips You Need to Know so You Don’t Bother Your Barista

Fortunately, your barista, who has likely had to customise a few crazy creations in his or her time, isn't as fazed. However, as a matter of common courtesy Shaun Kumar, a seasoned coffee expert with more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry (now serving as an Ambassador for craft coffee brand Piazza D’Oro ANZ) does suggest keeping your amendments to a minimum.

"A good rule of thumb is that ideally, three is the max. An excessive number of changes can disrupt the workflow of the barista, impacting the experience of other customers behind you in the line and nobody wants to be the reason everyone leaves their morning cafe trip in a bad mood!”

Mind Your Manners:

According to Evan Burgess at Cornerstone Coffee and Kitchen located inside Bankstown Sports Club: "Simple gestures of politeness, such as saying ‘please’ or ‘thank you’, acknowledging the staff with a smile, or being patient, can also significantly enhance the atmosphere and experience. These small acts of kindness are appreciated by the staff and can also set a positive tone for your visit”. 
6 Cafe Etiquette Tips You Need to Know so You Don’t Bother Your Barista

Furthermore, although cafes are renowned for being a more engaging environment in comparison to their after-dark counterparts, excessive noise can disrupt the ambience and impede others' enjoyment. For this reason, it's essential to be mindful of your volume.

Wondering whether your furry friends or little ones will be welcomed at your local smoothie-serving establishment?

"If you are in a new city, the app PetCloud is a great one to download as it will let you know about pet-friendly cafes nearby,” says Shaun. "Similarly, you can use the Winnie app to check if there are kid-friendly cafes nearby. If you are struggling to find out, the most straightforward way is to call up and check.” 

Shutting up Shop:

Arriving moments before closing time may seem harmless, but it can be a source of frustration for baristas and staff eager to tidy up and head home. Aim to place your order with ample time before closing to allow the staff to serve you efficiently and shut up shop without feeling rushed.
6 Cafe Etiquette Tips You Need to Know so You Don’t Bother Your Barista

However, don’t be too stressed if it’s 3.25 pm and you’ve just managed to sneak out for a sip that will cure your 3.30 pm-itis. It’s the last thing your highly-strung caffeine-starved self needs! 

As Andrew acknowledges, a good cafe is one that puts customers first: "We are open until 9 pm every night and all my team knows it means anyone can order up until then and sometimes beyond. Sometimes we all need to go a bit further to keep our customers happy.”

Sharing is Caring:

As anyone who has tried to secure a table at their local walk-in-only hole-in-the-wall can confirm, competition for cafe seating is often stiff, especially during peak hours - so, be considerate of others when choosing a table. 
6 Cafe Etiquette Tips You Need to Know so You Don’t Bother Your Barista

According to Evan: "If you're dining solo grab a small table (you’re welcome to use our free Wi-fi all day): or, if you’re with a small group, opt for a smaller table rather than occupying a larger one meant for larger parties.”

Sit and Sip (But Know When to Stop):

Post-COVID, many cafes continue to offer an excellent option for those looking to ‘perk up’ their work-from-home routine. However, if you're planning to linger in the cafe after you've finished your drink, particularly to work on your laptop or read, be mindful of their policies regarding seating and occupancy. 

"Working on your laptop is actually welcomed at most cafes which will always feel better with people in them,” advises Andrew. "But remember, they rely on sales to stay open, so take the hint when you get the awkward stares from the team when they have people waiting for tables.”
6 Cafe Etiquette Tips You Need to Know so You Don’t Bother Your Barista

If the cafe is busy, consider whether it's appropriate to continue occupying a table for an extended period. Additionally, if the cafe is closing soon, be respectful of the staff's need to clean and close up shop by making arrangements to leave in a timely manner.

"While there is no clear timing or easy way to deal with this, I draw the line when people are waiting for a table - then we need you to vacate it. We are always happy for people to linger in quiet times, but we are not a state library. So, don’t get offended if we ask you to move on,” says Andrew.

Some final tips to ensure you’re across cafe etiquette (and don’t bother your barista!), include: 

Utilise the Wi-fi for tasks like reading emails or conducting light web searches, avoiding bandwidth-heavy activities such as downloading large files or streaming video.

Enable outlet accessibility to others by ensuring your devices are fully charged before arriving. 

If you plan to listen to audio, opt for headphones to maintain a quiet atmosphere. Keeping phone conversations brief and discreet, mindful of others nearby.

Adhere to all the above to ensure your experience is a brew-tiful one! 

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