5 Baristas On The Drinks They Secretly Hate Making

Photo: Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
The relationship between barista and coffee drinker is essential — especially before 10 a.m. Hardworking baristas keep the masses caffeinated with an endlessly customizable range of coffee and espresso drinks. But, even though your barista might have your go-to drink memorized, what we don't know is how they really feel about said order. While many baristas enjoy geeking out endlessly about extraction methods and roasting styles, there are still some drinks they just plain don't like.
To get the inside scoop, we asked five baristas to dish on their least-favorite drinks, from cold brew to macchiatos, and why they've earned that title. Beware: you may never look at your coffee order the same way again.
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Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.
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Cold Brew

"How is it so impossibly smooth and chocolatey? It's because it sits in cold water in a big ole sock for 24 hours. You could put Chock Full o'Nuts in a cold water sock for 24 hours and it would taste similar. I had some pretty decent tasting cold brew the other day at a shop that is laser focused on coffee quality. That said, most coffee shops use cold brew as a way of getting rid of their old coffee and you can't be sure that concentrate hasn't been sitting around for days. Sure, there's no acidity, but there's also not much in the way of flavor complexity. It's mostly all stale chocolate coffee syrup that gets you JACKED."

Eric Grimm, Everyman Espresso
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Espresso

"I'm an awarded coffee professional that really dislikes espresso (and I almost never order one)." I get flack in the coffee industry for it. But based on pure taste and preference, I have disliked about 95% of espressos I've had in my lifetime. They usually are not extracted correctly, roasted correctly, or the barista has not maintained the extraction parameters throughout the day."

—Sean Stewart, Co-Founder, Matchless Coffe

"I rarely drink it because the unfortunate reality is that most shots are pretty far from anything I would normally call delicious. It's such an intensely extra way to brew and drink coffee and I have a hard time not opting for a simple batch brew or at the very least, a cortado. "

—Nathanael Mehrens, Co-Founder, Matchless Coffee
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Macchiatos

"The most contentious order I have to deal with is probably the macchiato. Because you never know who comes into your store and knows what a traditional macchiato (which is how we serve it) or not. And as you begin to describe it, it always sounds like you're being patronizing and thats not the case at all, but you don't want the person at the other end of the bar getting a small cup of espresso and milk with a look of confusion on their face. There's no specific demographic, there's no way a person orders that will really tip me off. "

–Sachia Sanchez, Nobletree Coffee
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Matcha Latte

"I hate matcha lattes. The flavor is not bad per se, its more just the fact that we have to follow this trend as far as staying up, but in actuality if we could sell only coffee here we would do that.

It's something we call the fajita affect. At Chili's, they carry the hot fajitas out through the restaurant, and make other people want to order it because they see it on a hot plate. Matcha lattes follow suite with this. People follow the trend and order it based on what is popular."

–John Hill, The Wooly
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Coffee Drinks For Kids
"Either a parent would order a child a coffee because the child was 'sleepy' or the parent would yield to the wishes of the child who probably heard the word "latte" earlier in the week and wanted whatever it was.

I would always reiterate that we had several decaf options or non-caffeinated, child friendly frappes (like cotton candy or chocolate). I did this knowing that the parent wouldn't actually change their order but more to make it clear I was judging them. I was always tempted to give them decaf anyway, but instead I would fill the child's cup maybe 3/4 of the way or however little i could get away with. "

–Anna, former barista
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