Sips and Pours: Drink experts share what makes their blood boil

Baristas, bartenders and sommeliers aren’t immune to your tomfoolery. We chatted with four local liquid connoisseurs about their personal pet peeves and found out how they retaliate.

Java Joes

We talked to a seven-year corporate coffee slinger, whose biggest complaint is that the customer isn’t always right. “The customer knows our policy (‘Just say yes’) and they abuse it,” he said citing a frequent red-flag customer who visits the same location twice a night. She’ll pick up her drink and return hours later claiming it wasn’t correct. “I’m not replacing your drink every night … but I have to because that’s our policy.”

His other grievances include gluten-free beverage requests from customers who also order wheat-based breakfast treats, and the lactose-intolerant set that asks for whipped cream atop their soy mocha.

Moreover, your coffee won’t get any hotter or colder. “It comes out at 190 degrees from our urn; I’m not going to steam it for you or water it down.”

But ultimately, he wishes people would remember the golden rule. “I hate when people throw their credit cards or change on the counter … Would they want me throwing it back when I’m done? Why would you want to be rude to someone controlling your food? I can certainly rub a dirty finger in your cup, or make your drink incorrectly and you’d never know … That’s satisfying to me.”

As San Anto’s café game grows, a local craft barista at a downtown coffee shop wants you to keep something in mind: Don’t order a pour over.

“Not everyone knows what it is and not everyone cares what it is. They don’t have the appreciation for it and they don’t care to learn, but it takes three to four minutes to make. It costs just a few cents more, but you’re taking up more of my time and more of the people’s time behind you. I could give [you] drip coffee and [you] wouldn’t even know.”

Booze Slingers

For our bartender, we went with someone with experience at both speed and cocktail bars, but the veteran drink-maker has learned to let things slide … with one exception: impatience.

“If I’m standing around doing nothing, I can understand, but if I’m obviously helping guests and I’m in the middle of doing a series of things, then it comes down to people being conscientious.”

Instead of insistently tapping your debit card on the counter, trust your ’tender to treat you right once it’s your turn. “When you let me facilitate you having a good time, you will have a great time. If you have an attitude of me standing in the way of what you want, I’ll take your order and we’ll have a transaction.”

Wine Snobs

Our sommelier’s biggest pet peeve? Ageist remarks. “I get people telling me, ‘I’ve been drinking wine way before you were born,’ so, of course, they think they know better.”

And for the love of good wine … don’t sniff the cork. “You have to smell the wine. Sure, you can check for [cork] age and dryness, but it’s going to smell like a fuckin’ cork.”

Lastly, ditch the smarty-pants technical questions.

“Genuine questions are great, but if you’re trying to quiz me, we’ll have a problem. I try to cut to the chase right away and be professional.”

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