Coffee Culture: Have you got my order right?

April 16, 2015

A colleague of mine got into a heated debate with my favourite barista about her order.

My colleague said she wanted a long macchiato topped up, but he corrected her and said that it’s actually a double shot latte. Then they argued about this. I’m not kidding – they had an actual argument over what the name of this coffee is.

I wasn’t sure which of them was correct and the fact that they were arguing about it made me think about whether it even matters what you call it if both sides understand what is meant?

Two shots of coffee with milk to the top – does it matter what it’s called?

According to my research, yes, it does matter. But it matters from a preparation point of view only, not content. The difference is whether the coffee is poured into the cup first or the milk goes in first.

It led me to think about listening and understanding – whether he/she got my order right – especially when there is a transaction in play.

Is what you have said, what the other person heard?

Everyone interprets communication from their own base of emotions, values, culture, experiences and circumstances. Therefore essentially while your similarities in how you speak, there are also huge gaps, simply because you are not the sum of what makes them up.

Here are fives ways to make sure you are speaking the same language.
1. Listen, listen and maybe then listen a bit more

When listening, don’t let your own conclusions get in the way. If your mind is racing to respond, and you are formulating responses, have you really heard what you are responding to or are you so busy getting ready to reply that you don’t realise you might actually be saying the same thing.

Try to hold your thoughts until you have heard everything.
2. Ask questions and repeat it back

Active listening requires you to paraphrase what has been said and ask questions to fill the gaps. You will not only learn a tremendous amount about what they are saying, but about what the core of the issue might be.
3. Take your ego out of the conversation, at least for the moment

Is it about being right or being understand? If you’re too busy trying to ‘win’ in the conversation, then you don’t really care about the outcome. Of course you want to be right. If it is as simple as getting your coffee right, does it matter who is right if you get what you wanted?
4. Empathy goes a long way

Can you put yourself in that person’s shoes?

If you could relate to what they wanted, how they felt, then would there me a gap in understanding each other. All she wants is two shots of coffee and hot steamed milk – because she needs her morning kick!

All he wants is a respect for his expertise, after all this is what he does for a living.

Why argue with what it’s called when you’re both essentially on the same page?
5. What is your body saying?

Are you saying yes but shaking your head left to right? That happens more often than you think.

If you have postures for an argument, even before there was a problem, what is the real issue? Are you bringing other conversations into the one you are trying to have.


“If there is any secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as from your own.” Henry Ford.