15 Starbucks Etiquette Tips

by Doug Felteau on November 1, 2010

Starbucks Etiquette Did you know there is Starbucks Etiquette? If not, you’re probably breaking the rules.

While eHow has a short article explaining the etiquette of ordering, there so much more! People apparently lose all common sense when they smell their newly created Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte.

Starbucks idiot
Follow these common sense tips for proper Starbucks etiquette:

1. While there are multiple registers, there is only one queue.
2. Learn the vernacular at Starbucks. There is no such size as small/medium/large. Use short/tall/grande/venti instead.
3. Know what you want to order when you arrive at the counter. If you’ve never been to Starbucks before, check out the menu on-line prior to your visit. Otherwise stand to the side of the line to study the menu before queuing up.
4. After ordering, have your money or your Starbucks card at the ready to pay.
5. Once your drink is ordered, do not crowd the counter where the barista is making your drink. The barista will call your order or name when the drink is complete.
6. Make sure you pick up YOUR order and not someone else’s.
7. Do not bring outside food into the Starbucks. The only exception is a small meal for a little one provided you purchase a drink and food yourself. If you find yourself using this exception often, you might want to consider skipping Starbucks and eating elsewhere.
8. Make sure you actually purchase Starbuck’s product if you plan on enjoying the Starbucks atmosphere. It’s just broken to skip the purchase and just use the free WiFi.
9. For every 2 hours you occupy a seat and/or table at Starbuck’s, you should order a refill or new product and tip the barista. As an example, if you spend an entire 8 hour day occupying space at Starbucks, you should have tipped about $10 and ordered food and several drinks.
10. Setup shop at an appropriately sized table. For example, if you are by yourself, choose a table for one or two people but not a four seater or multiple smaller tables.
11. If you plan on running a meeting in a Starbucks, make sure you watch your volume and keep the number of participants to four or less.
12. Keep conversation quiet.
13. Keep computer or mobile device noise confined to headphones.
14. If you need to use the phone for more than a minute, take the call outside.
15. Leave the kids at home unless you have well-behaved kids and something for them to do. My four year uses my iPad with headphones and consumes Starbucks product (kid temperature hot chocolate and English muffin breakfast sandwiches).
Starbucks idiot
One etiquette tip I wish was commonly accepted is no smoking on the Starbucks patios. Unfortunately there apparently is a high concentration of smokers where I live and the Starbucks patios are always used as a hangout for smokers which means non-smokers are relegated to enjoy their coffee inside.

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On my most recent trip on a lovely Sunday afternoon, I ran up against several violations. One lady took possession of a four seat table for over two hours and from the looks of her spread, she was probably there much longer. Additionally, a man came in and took over two single tables (plus he had an Alabama sticker on his laptop which is just wrong). Finally, a family of four came in with their Burger King meals looking for a large table (and free WiFi) and figured that the father’s coffee would justify the use of space.

Seriously folks, Starbucks is a business, not your home!

{ 7 comments }

SapperPest19 Nov 2, 2010 at 5:31 AM

And I'm sure the smokers would love to enjoy their coffee and cigarettes inside and allow the non smokers to enjoy the patio.

Chief Gizmateer Nov 2, 2010 at 9:57 PM

Works for me as long as it's nice outside! :)

felthos Nov 4, 2010 at 12:33 AM

They don't! I've never had a problem saying 'small/medium/large'.

Bruce W. Fowler Nov 5, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Several excellent reasons on why not to patronize Starbucks. Especially authors who have some prejudice against Alabamians.

Chief Gizmateer Nov 5, 2010 at 3:13 PM

I have no prejudice against Alabamians, I just feel sorry for them. War Eagle!

Starbucks CEO Apr 29, 2011 at 8:31 AM

Oh, there are so many things wrong with this. You want me to play by your rules but every time I go to my Starbucks the line is out the door, screaming kids, tables full, long wait. And now you want a tip too. You only tip at establishments that deliver your order to a table and wait on you. You don’t see people tipping their laundry pickup or at MacDonald’s. Starbucks etiquette is the same anywhere. Not everyone knows the menu to everywhere. Get in line, order, get out of line. Just like anywhere else. Act like a human and have some common courtesy for the other 20 people waiting 10 minutes for their order.

Oh, and people who sit in Starbucks for 4 hours or more are bums. Kick em out if they don’t order something so I can get a table one day.

Lydia Jun 7, 2011 at 5:00 PM

As a former long-time employee of starbucks I have to disagree with some of this article. Outside food is allowed at starbucks so long as your a paying customer, meetings and studying for hours is fine, smoking with consideration of others is ok, and you don't have to tip extra for sitting there a long time. Starbucks wants you to feel at home! However it gets VERY annoying when people say the wrong size names, don't know what to order, need to call some one to get their order, etc. its very rude to hold up the line with stuff like that! Also I hated people crowding the drink counter, taking the wrong drink, or asking where thier drink is after 30 seconds. lastly, do not pour coffee in the garbage!