5 Things I've Learnt after Working in a Cafe

Post Updated November 2020

If you know me in real life you will know that I work in a cafe, and, having worked there for well over three years now there are a fair amount of things that are regular occurrences and annoyances due to dealing with the wonderful general public. I genuinely really enjoy where I work so this is by no means a grumble about the cafe I work with but, the general public can be challenging at the best of times so here are some things I've learnt since working in a cafe!


Photo by daan evers


THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT

The customer is definitely not always right - they just like to think they are. A customer cannot always be correct cause if that were true half of them wouldn't pay for food or drinks as they believe the price is too high! A few years ago one man basically shouted at me as he thought I'd given him the wrong change. He hurled all sorts of abuse and insults at me about how I must be stupid, how it's natural I only work in a cafe (nothing wrong with working in hospitality anyway!!) and I must not have a brain. It was such an extreme reaction and it can be so hard to not retaliate sometimes. Instead, I pointed out on his receipt that 'amount due' is the amount paid to me whilst 'change' actually meant change and what I should give to him - which was correct! He didn't apologise and he walked off rather red-faced.


THERE ARE TOO MANY ANNOYING ORDERS

Working with a coffee machine means that you can receive all kinds of crazy orders. Gone are the days when people want a simple black coffee with milk on the side. Nowadays, we have people asking for 1/4 shot latte (we normally put 2 shots in), skinny, decaf, soya cappuccinos and a whole host of other options to contend with. Christmas time is the worst as hot chocolates and cappuccinos become more popular, along with our 'speciality' drinks which require you to add different flavoured syrups to each drink (then try and remember which one was which), add your coffee and milk, then cream, then marshmallows, then sprinkles, then sauce and then serve all within about 2 minutes before somebody complains that you're slow! It slows you down so much that by the time you make 2 drinks you've got 8 more to deal with. 

RUDE CUSTOMERS ARE A GIVEN

Everyone makes mistakes, myself and the others that work in the cafe are not robots and it's natural that we might forget to give you a cake (especially when you're meant to help yourself as numerous signs tell you to) or accidentally make the wrong drink occasionally. We're all human and apart from apologising and making it again, there isn't a lot we can do. The amount of people who make snide or just plain horrible remarks is ridiculous. My friend once made a latte instead of a cappuccino, apologised to the woman and said she'll make another one and was told 'no wonder you work in a cafe'! More recently a man told me to 'wait' whilst he sampled his food then immediately said that it was cold and bring him something edible. His wife thought the temperature was fine but I had to take them both back and then promptly heated them up until they were absolutely boiling, served them again and hoped he'd now burn himself after being so rude.



PEOPLE NEVER TIDY UP AFTER THEMSELVES

We're a very busy cafe in a tourist attraction with a rather small cafe considering the size of the place and the number of visitors we get. It's not uncommon to have full seats and a queue out of the door for at least 2-3 hours with non-stop serving of food, drinks and cakes. It's a very busy place, and I understand how in a cafe the staff are meant to clear up after you. However, we have tray racks dotted about the place so people can quickly put all their stuff in one place so it's easier for someone new to have their seat and takes us less time to clean up, but people never use them which means it takes 3 times as long to get to a table and wipe it as you have to get separate trips to remove the stuff on the table and take it to wash-up. We also get a lot of customers who bring their own picnics and outside food into the place and expect us to clean it up after they leave a mess. It's not even the cafe's food/drinks/rubbish so I never understand why they think the staff should clean it up. We've even had people leave nappies or baby wipes around which is so unhygienic and just gross! In the summer, we tend to get a lot of wasps and people think it's so helpful to get a jam jar and leave it open to attract them so they're not disturbed whilst eating. Yet, this then means that one of us has to try and dispose of a wasp-infested jam jar without getting stung which is not the easiest of things to do! My favourite method is using the litter picker to grab it from a distance and walking with it to the bin so I don't have to get close at all - I've had a few customers say it's a genius idea and I'm always pretty pleased with that method!

PEOPLE DON'T READ SIGNS

We have numerous signs around the cafe directing customers as to what to do, but do people ever read these signs? Nope. Examples of signs include 'Please help yourself to cakes', 'Please help yourself to milk' and 'Make sure you have a table number before ordering at the counter', but do people ever follow these instructions? Never. The number of people who after making your coffee and saying the milk is a help-yourself service next to them that still wait around for you to give them milk is shocking and hilarious. People always wait for you to fetch them cakes even though the sign says to help yourself. The reason it says to help yourself is that when we're behind the counter we can't actually reach the cakes so it saves so much time for the customer to get than to watch us struggle to grab you a slice of Victoria sponge! If people read signs, the cafe would run a whole lot smoother!

I could probably continue for quite a while with things that are annoying working in a cafe, but despite all that I actually kind of enjoy it? This post makes it sound like I have an awful time working there but, to be honest, it's quite fun sometimes and you do get some lovely customers too! The days are never repetitive and I work with a lot of friends and good people making it a nice environment to be in. The cafe itself is situated in such lovely grounds with a grand house so there are definitely worse places to work! Although it has its annoyances, I do genuinely enjoy my cafe work, bad customers too!

Anybody else experience annoyances working in a cafe? Let me know!

23 comments

  1. Oh my god I work at a cafe and people never read the signs! I ask for a table number and they go 'oh we haven't got one we're just sitting somewhere around there' and I'm like no!! That's not the way it works! Also I've worked at the cafe for around 5 months and I'm losing hope that I'll ever be able to do latte art :(x
    constantlylibby.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Haha, it's so annoying isn't it?! Latte art is so difficult to master, I still can't do it!

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  2. These ring too true! I have worked in coffee shops ever since starting to be employed - I love doing all the latte art but customers can drive me up the wall, haha!

    Paige // Paige Eades

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  3. That is so true! I never worked in a cafe before, but I was a cashier at a grocery store and thought the same thing about customers too. I always try to be so nice to workers because I understand how hard it is to deal with annoying and rude customers. Unfortunately, there's more mean ones than nice ones usually haha thanks for sharing this post!
    -Charity https://morningsonmacedonia.com

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    1. Completely agree - I always try to be nice when I'm being served!

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  4. This is very interesting, I also worked in the hotel's restaurant
    so I can relate..

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  5. I love going to cafes but I find the drink choices overwhelming and always think that it must be really stressful for staff.

    I always clear my table though, I hate it when people leave a mess! Like you’d leave your dining table at home like that. Animals!

    Great post x

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    1. Sometimes there's just too much choice! Thank you!

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  6. Customers are the worst right (I can say this as a customer and not as a worker) I'm very boring with my order and as an enneagram 9 I don't complain about anything but I can appreciate how annoying that must be! I once actually got asked by a Starbucks barista to be more creative with my order lol

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    1. I feel too awkward to complain about anything too! Oh wow, that's quite the achievement in Starbucks!

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  7. After working in hospitality retail for over three years, I feel your pain! I was a supervisor at the cafe I worked at too so I got the angry customers ALL THE TIME. Great post, thanks for sharing! X

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  8. Oh gosh dealing with all the strange coffee orders must be the most annoying thing - especially when it comes to speciality drinks! Also 1/4 of a shot of coffee in a latte?! What's the point?!? :') x

    https://www.femaleoriginal.com

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    1. I know - it just looks like a slightly odd coloured milk!

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  9. I've never worked in a cafe before but I have worked in multiple customer service jobs, and this is all too relatable. Luckily, the good outweighs the bad 99.99% of the time. x

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  10. I've never worked in a cafe or hospitality or anything like that but having worked in PRIMARK in the past, I have no doubt about any of these points you've made. People are ridiculous sometimes aren't they haha! I wouldn't mind working in a cafe if it was a cute little coffee shop!

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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    1. Oh gosh, I bet that could be an experience! People come up with some very weird things!

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  11. Sounds like working in a café can be really frustrating! I work with young children so I know how annoying it can be when they don't tidy up after themselves and I'm forever having to put things away!

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  12. Thanks for sharing your experiences, I worked in hospital catering which was a stressful but lovely experience at the same time making tea & coffees for the patients on their road to recovery, my job now the customers are so selfish :)

    Nic | Nic's Adventures & Bakes

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