15 Insider Secrets Your Barista Isn’t Telling You

Coffee addicts turn to baristas for their caffeine fix who spend their days making all types of caffeinated concoctions and have knowledge only a professional would know. Discover insider tips from baristas, ahead.

Use filtered water

The quality of water makes a difference. | iStock/Getty Images

The quality of water used to make a pot of coffee can distort the taste according to experts. “If you’re not using filtered water, your coffee’s gonna taste off,” Katie Weinberger, co-owner of King Bean Coffee Roasters in Charleston, South Carolina, told Real Simple.

Hint: Don’t use tap water.

Water from the grocery store will work

Gallons of Water on Grocery Shelf
The purified water will help the flavor. | 805promo/iStock/Getty Images

Grab water from your local grocery store. “Distilled water or purified water will automatically improve the flavor of your coffee […] even if you use a gallon of water from the store it would [help],” Jane Srisarakorn, co-owner of Arrow Café, told Real Simple. Something else is probably wrong with the water you’re using (page 15).

Hint: You’re using the wrong coffee filter.

Wet the filter

Paper filter and ground coffee
Wet filters hold on to the flavor. | razmarinka/iStock/Getty Images

Don’t just toss a filter in your coffee maker and continue on with the coffee making process. Experts suggest using a wet coffee filter. “It’s important to wet the filter first when you’re doing a pourover because it removes the flavor, especially if it’s not a natural filter,” Srisarakorn told Real Simple.

Hint: Stop storing coffee here.

Don’t put coffee in the fridge

Avoid storing your coffee in there. | fuzzbones0/iStock/Getty Images

Forget about storing coffee in the fridge or freezer. “Your coffee will absorb all the odors from the fridge — like the fish that’s in there — so just leave it at room temperature in an airtight container,” Weinberger told Real Simple.

Hint: People work in coffee their entire lives.

Coffee is a career

Barista steaming milk for hot cappuccino
Coffee is a passion. | CandyBoxImages/iStock/Getty Images

“It’s a chosen field,” barista Virgil San Miguel, told Mental Floss. “It’s not like you work in a coffee shop because it’s a glamorous job,” he said. “It’s more like a passion.” Becoming a barista takes years of training.

Hint: Baristas have to become certified.

Seriously, it is

Woman drinking coffee in bed
Coffee is an art. | gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

“It can take a few years. You have to start to understand origins, production methods, where your coffee came from,” Jake Griffin, a wholesale representative for Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, told Mental Floss. “They have to be what we call ‘bar certified’ before they’re even allowed on the machine,” he said.

Hint: There may be more than coffee in a barista’s cup.

Baristas may drink on the job

Inclined Glass of beer
There’s a good chance it’s beer. | photologica/iStock/Getty Images

“If you see a barista with a lidded cup behind the bar, there’s probably a 50/50 chance: It’s either coffee or beer,” a barista with corporate coffee chain and specialty cafe experience, told Mental Floss. “You never know.”

Hint: You’ll regret not saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to a barista.

Be nice to baristas, or else

Don’t forget to tip. | iStock/Getty Images

“Be nice to your baristas, or you get decaf,” a barista told Mental Floss. Getting the letters DTB on your cup is a bad sign. “They call it DTB — ‘decaf that b*tch.’” Get a leaky cup, and it may not be a coincidence. “When a barista puts the mouth on the seam, they want it to leak on you,” a New York City-based barista said.

Hint: Don’t make this mistake in a coffee shop.

Don’t put coffee in the trash

Coffee cups in trash
It will spill in there. | RobynRoper/iStock/Getty Images

There’s an easy way to make baristas dislike you. Dump your leftover coffee in the trash. “Please don’t pour it in the garbage,” Marina Velazquez, a Bluestone Lane barista told Mental Floss. “Because at the end of the night, it ends up on our feet.” Ask a barista behind the counter to pour the leftovers out in the sink.

Hint: Black aprons have an important meaning.

Black aprons at Starbucks have a secret meaning

Baristas brew siphon coffee at Starbucks' Annual Meeting
The black aprons designate coffee masters. | Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images

Black aprons worn by baristas at Starbucks aren’t only forgiving on spills. “Baristas wearing black have been certified as coffee masters through an education program provided by Starbucks,” according to Eat This, Not That!

Hint: This is the best value at a coffee shop.

Iced coffee is the best value

starbucks iced coffee
Iced coffee is a way better deal than a latte. | Chris Hondros/Getty Images

“The best drink to get if you want something cheap is iced coffee,” a barista told Eat This, Not That! “You can add any syrup for free and make it taste way better than the lattes. Also, ask for steamed iced coffee if our coffee is too weak.”

Hint: This physical ailment is common in baristas.

Being a barista is hard on the body

Baristo making coffee
It’s physically demanding. | Thongsuk Atiwannakul/iStock/Getty Images

Baristas are on their feet for long stretches of time doing physically taxing work. “There’s physical wear and tear on your joints when you’re a barista,” John Hrabe, an espresso trainer, told Mental Floss. Tennis elbow is “totally common for baristas.”

Hint: Check your espresso for this.

Espresso goes bad

Espresso expires in 10 seconds. | Joe Raedle/Getty Image

Take a sip of an espresso that tastes funny? The espresso could be bad, according to Insider. Once espresso is “extracted from an espresso machine, it has 10 seconds before it expires.” After, the espresso will become very bitter.

Hint: Don’t make this mistake when ordering.

Don’t get extra syrup

hazelnut, vanilla and caramel coffee syrups
Extra syrup is going to be too much. | MarkSkalny/iStock/Getty Images

Think twice before asking a barista for an extra pump of syrup in your drink. One pump is approximately once fluid ounce, according to Insider. At Starbucks, “the pumps increase with the sizes: a Tall gets three pumps, a Grande gets four, a Venti hot gets five, and a Venti iced gets six.” One barista warns added syrup makes drinks much too sweet.

Hint: Why boiling water is ruining your coffee.

Don’t use boiling water to make coffee

Stay away from the electric kettle. | iStock/Getty Images

“198 [degrees Fahrenheit] to 203 [degrees Fahrenheit] water gives you an ideal brew,” Srisarakorn told Real Simple. “Boiling water (212 [degrees Fahrenheit) is way too hot,” she said. “It over-brews the coffee immediately.” Wait 30 seconds after boiling water to pour it.

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