Become your barista’s favorite regular with these tips.

Everyone has a favorite coffee shop. Whether you're a regular at a cozy local joint or you prefer a bustling national chain, coffee shops are one of the best places to get your morning brew. Each coffee shop has its own setup and unspoken rules, but there are certain "polite" things you may be doing every day that are actually rude. 

Fear not, we have a guide for you to improve your coffee-shop etiquette and become your barista's favorite customer. From cleaning up your own spills to not speaking up about incorrect orders, there are a few things you could be doing at coffee shops that are actually rude. 

1. You don't want to bother the barista, so you leave the milk jugs empty.

It's happened to us all. You go to add your splash of cream or oat milk, and the pitchers at the self-service counter are empty. Your first instinct is probably to use up the rest and leave the pitchers empty so the barista can keep working uninterrupted. The last thing you want to be is a nuisance to your coffee shop employees, after all! 

Leaving the self-service pitchers empty is not as polite as you'd think. If they don't get refilled, more and more customers will leave the shop unsatisfied with their morning brew. The same goes for self-serve coffee airpots; it takes a lot of time to brew a fresh batch of coffee, so letting your barista know when it's nearly empty could save them lots of unhappy customers. 

Baristas might not have the time to go back and check on the pitchers consistently, especially on busy shifts. So the next time you run into an empty pitcher, give your barista a heads-up. It'll leave your fellow customers satisfied and your barista feeling appreciative! 

2. You take the incorrect order with you.

Mistakes happen, it's nothing to get upset about! Maybe your iced chai was served hot or your oat milk latte is tasting a little too much like a whole-milk mocha. If a barista serves you a drink that doesn't taste or look like what you ordered, don't just thank them and walk off with it. 

While it may feel polite to accept an incorrect order, you're probably messing up the orders behind you. Perhaps the drink you took was waiting for a different customer to retrieve it, or your barista made an honest mistake. Baristas want to deliver you the best service possible, so it's always best to kindly ask for a correction rather than walk off disappointed! 

a photo of a Barista making a coffee
Credit: Getty Images

3. You bring a reusable mug, but it's dirty.

While we applaud your efforts to cut down on waste and make sustainable decisions, we have to emphasize how important it is to bring a clean cup. A lot of coffee shops follow health and sanitation policies that require them to either use single-use cups or completely clean reusable ones. Just think about it, would you want a dirty mug touching a milk frother? We didn't think so! 

Not only is it polite to keep health and sanitation in mind, but you're also saving your barista some work. It's not in their job description to clean your dirty dishes from home! So whenever you bring a reusable mug, just be sure to keep it as clean as you keep the planet. 

4. You're listening a little too closely for your order to be called.

Being an attentive listener is a great skill, but just make sure you're not getting in the way of others. Coffee shops and cafes might have separate counter space for order pickups, or your cashier will pass off that latte to you when it's ready. Whatever the setup, be sure to scope out a pocket of the coffee shop to wait patiently for your order. 

By standing at the counter, you could be blocking the path for other customers to place or retrieve their orders. Some smaller coffee shops might not have separate counter space for picking up and placing orders, so the best rule of thumb is to back up and wait patiently. The last thing you want is to get in the way of people who haven't had their morning cup of coffee! 

5. You clean up your own spilled coffee.

Slips, trips and falls are the leading causes of spilled coffees! Most of us would automatically think, "It's my mess, I should clean it up." But, we're here to tell you that is not always the case in coffee shops. 

When you clean your own big spill, you might be using up tons of napkins that could be otherwise used for other customers. Your coffee shop might also want to cut down on single-use waste and have specific towels they use for cleaning instead. Additionally, there may be health codes in place that require employees to clean messes with certain products. So if you have a coffee catastrophe, always ask your barista the best way to clean up!