Is it really that difficult to smile? I understand that when you’re exhausted on your feet and you just don’t want to serve cups of coffee anymore, maybe the smile will fall. But that still doesn’t give you an excuse to not smile. You’re in a service industry. Specialty coffee, regardless of how high up the “specialty” ladder you are, is still a food service industry. Fake smile, real smile, I don’t care. Though I can tell when you’re fake smiling, I’ll give you a point for effort. As long as you’re not fake smiling every time I go into the store.

Elitism in any industry comes in many forms, but more often than not in coffee, it starts behind the counter. The blank stare, the unhelpful look that is shades away from a glare, that impatience. As if there are better things to do than providing a great customer experience.

Most recently, the below happened to me at a shop I really like.

I buy a bag of coffee from the shop. My friend joins me at the counter- we’re the only two in line and the barista is the only person behind the counter. My friend and I are both pretty nerdy about coffee. So we’re just standing there, staring at the bags, thinking. A beat or two of time passes.

The barista looks at us pointedly and says, “So… are you guys ordering anything?”

We shake our heads and I imagine the huff of impatience escaping her mouth as she walks briskly away.

Maybe she had better things to do than to converse with a customer who might have bought a bag of beans in the future.