Cafe, Customer Service

Conflict Brews as Barista Explains that Macchiatos are “Actually” Really Small


SEATTLE, WA—When graphic designer and coffee lover Karen Jones went into a specialty cafe this morning, she was in for a surprise. After ordering a macchiato, Jones was told by on-shift barista James Melman that macchiatos are “actually” super small.


Trying to convey the gravity of the situation, Melman used his fingers to demonstrate the size of the beverage to Jones, who said that she wanted to try it anyway. Melman, a self-described skeptic, wasn’t too sure that she did.


“I don’t think she really knew what I was saying,” said Melman, who has worked as a barista for the last year. “It’s a very small drink—really only for aficionados.”


Jones, who usually frequents the Starbucks near her office, had decided to try a new shop for the morning. “I always go to Starbucks, but I changed up my route that morning just for the heck of it. So I ordered the same thing I always get.” When asked how it felt to be told that a macchiato was actually not a large drink filled with delicious syrups but rather a very small drink, Jones replied, “I figured I’d give it a go, you know? I’m trying something new anyway.”


But Melman wasn’t convinced. “I told her that what she really wanted was a large vanilla latte. She said she wanted to try the small macchiato—at that point I really knew she didn’t know what she was talking about, because small is the only size a macchiato can come in. So I told her I was going to make her a vanilla latte.” Then, he did.


“The vanilla latte was great, but I honestly don’t get why he wouldn’t just make me the macchiato,” said Jones with a rueful shrug. “To be honest, I probably won’t go back, even though I did like the coffee a lot.”


At this time, Melman has brought his concerns to his manager and is waiting for a clear policy on what to do when customers order a macchiato but clearly don’t know what they want. This story is still developing.


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About RJ Joseph

RJ Joseph is a coffee lover, roaster, writer, ex-bitter barista, and founder of The Knockbox.
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2 thoughts on “Conflict Brews as Barista Explains that Macchiatos are “Actually” Really Small

  1. Solution.

    Customer: “I would like a macchiattotatttaoto.”
    Barista: “Sure. Would you like the big kind or the little kind?”

  2. They were both wrong.
    Since macchiato literally means “stained”, the question is what she’d like stained. A espresso macchiato (small) or a latte macchiato (large). Even Starbucks is right with the drink they offer. Calling it a macchiato gives them the liberty to stain whatever they want with whatever the f they deem appropriate.

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