How baristas remember drink recipes

Mareena Winchell

Have you ever wondered how a barista remember all the drink orders? Is it crazy memory games, tricks or superpowers?

From the mochas, lattes, frappuccino, and everything in between, being a barista has its challenges.


A lady stands in line waiting to order at a coffee shop called Sweet Temptations.
As customers order their cups of coffee a barista is hard at work making sure that it a superb cup of coffee. (Mareena Winchell | Collegian)

“At first, I had no idea what I was doing or how I was doing the whole (barista) job,” said Tom Lopez, a junior business major at CSU. “Those first two weeks on the job I asked so many questions all my co-workers must have been so annoyed. I was almost like the list of all the different coffee drinks never ended.”

From a barista’s viewpoint, the writing on the cup is the number one tool in remembering how to make the drink just the way the customer ordered it.

“I cannot even express how much the writing on the cup makes my life easier,” said Jordan Waters, a junior at CSU studying microbiology. “As much as a memory game it is to be a barista, the code words on the cups helps each barista during the production side of making a customer’s coffee.” 

According to Bethany Morris, a junior fashion design major at CSU, being a barista takes practice, but once you master one drink, they all become easier to memorize.

“Practice makes perfect, as cliche as it is,” Morris said. “When a rush of people start, it is so overwhelming to remember what people order, but you just have to take it one drink at a time and hope for the best. When I first started out, I was such a perfectionist when it came to making drinks, and I wanted everything to be flawless. It would take me longer to make the drinks, but you should find the balance of the techniques of making the drink and making the customer happy.” 

An empty coffee shop in the library at CSU called Morgan's Grind
With no one in line, your local barista is always ready to make a cup of joe. (Mareena Winchell | Collegian)

Some customers find themselves buying a cup of joe from the same coffee shop every day, and this makes it easier on the barista, according to Joseph Marlow.

“It’s fun when you start memorizing drink orders from daily customers,” Marlow said. “It like a little insider between you and the customer. It also makes it more convenient on the barista’s side of it because you already know how they like their drink and what they usually get inside of it.”

Aside from the regulars at certain coffee shops, newbies and their unique drink orders can sometimes stump baristas. 

A man stands in line at a local coffee shop called Sweet Sinsations
Baristas are always working hard throughout a rush of people or times during a slow point of the day. (Mareena Winchell | Collegian)

“As much as I love making coffee, it can be a little much sometimes,” said Paulina Cortez, a freshman studying health and exercise science at CSU. “When people order a complex drink, it adds flare on my end but also it is one more thing I could possibly mess up on and make the customer upset. Complex drinks are a blessing and a curse at the same time.”

According to Johnny Caster, a sophomore studying communication at CSU, being a barista is a job that comes with many challenges but seeing people happy with their cup of coffee is one feeling not many people get to experience.


“Do not get me wrong, at first being a barista is hard, very hard because of all the drinks on the menu, but once you get into the groove of making these drinks everyday it becomes second nature,” Caster said. “Also, I learn from a hands on perspective, so this job is perfect for me and my learning style but to be a good barista means you have to learn from your mistakes, and you have to make the customer happy every time you make a cup of coffee.”

Collegian Reporter Mareena Winchell can be reached at or on Twitter @mareenaaaa_.