You Need Help: Requisite Crush on a Barista

Welcome to You Need Help! Where you seek advice and we try our very best to give it.

This has traditionally been done by way of individual Formspring accounts, Autostraddle’s Tumblr and a Formspring Friday column, which has all been very fun and insightful. But, because Formspring has a character limit and we’re wildly optimistic w/r/t our time-management skills, we thought we’d go one further and let you use our ASS private messaging to share advice-related feelings, too.

For more info on sending in questions, see the bottom of this post. Let’s get down to bossing people around on the internet! Today we help you successfully hit on the cute barista.

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If there are universal truths to being a queer girl, one of them must be that, at some point or another, you will want to fingerblast the hot chick at the coffee shop. Even if she pings about as gay as a goldfish, you’ll still legitimately wonder if and how you should ask her out. Probably no one will think you have a chance with this girl, but we’ll be supportive because it would give us hope to see one of our own succeed.

But how do you flirt with a girl who’s being paid to be nice to you? And what about navigating the superfun game of Is This Hot Girl Even Gay? Last week Nerve asked its readers for advice on this topic and naturally we thought we could do a better job. Because we’ve worked at coffee shops in the past, and once a barista always a barista, Rachel and I smashed our brains together and this is what we came up with.

We feel confident that this advice applies to all food service employees. For additional, more general advice on getting the girl, you really should read these:

How to Date Girls: 10 Simple Rules for Properly Courting a Lesbian
How To Pick Up Chicks: A Lesbian Guide to Getting Girl-on-Girl Action
Open Thread: You Probably Have a Crush Story to Share, Because You’re Gay
Rejection 101: A Lesbian’s Guide To Getting Turned Down, Keeping Your Head Up

And now on with the show!

Things to Remember

via audreyhepburncomplex.tumbler.com

1. She has a job.
Yes, she is a world of cute and you can see heaven in her eyes but for god’s sake SHE IS AT WORK. Don’t try to make small talk when she’s slammed and don’t be super personal or flirty in front of other customers.

If it’s not really busy, ask her to make a new drink for you. This works best if you’re an esteemed regular, but it’s definitely worth trying regardless. Here are the words that could come out of your mouth:

“I usually get a [drink], but I want to try something [totally different/seasonal/else]. What [is your favorite drink/is new/do you think I'd like]? I really trust your judgment here.”

2. She is a person.
Our cute barista friend just wants to get to the end of her shift and get home without spilling too much steamed milk on her shoes or crying. I mean, she’s just a girl in the world, you know? Without coming off as creepy, you should find a way to let her know that YOU KNOW she’s a person and not a coffee-making robot. Ways to do that:

Eye contact. Just don’t stare.
Using her name in a sentence. “Hi [name]. Can I have a [thing you want to drink/eat]?”

See? That was easy.

3. She will remember you.
If you’ve been in the coffee shop more than three times, she’s cataloged you in her brainspace. Food service workers have really impressive recall, so don’t do anything that would get you unfavorably categorized, like whining about foam.

4. She talks to her co-workers.
Surely to goodness you’re not only showing up when you know she’ll be working, right? That would be weird. On the days you’re there and she’s not, make non-flirty small talk with her co-workers. If most everyone behind the counter thinks you’re swell, she’ll be more likely to want to get to know you, too. Also, this is how things work in the real world — you become acquaintances with members of a group and then you maybe become part of that group. Easy peasy.

You could take this one step further by casually dropping strategic info here and there — when it’s appropriate! — about yourself / your life. The idea is that the next time you’re in or you’re brought up in conversation (yes, baristas and waitresses talk about regular customers all the time), she could possibly learn that you went lobstering last weekend with a team of lesbians from Maine and your favorite color is blue.

A word about tipping:
There’s a balance you want to strike between regular tipping and crazy over-the-top tipping. You want her to know that you appreciate her, but a large tip could come off more as a down-payment, especially if your flirting has less than subtle. Or maybe that’s just me being a cynical weirdo.

Flirting protip:
Know when to stop. If you’re there for hours, several days a week, the novelty of your adorable existence will wear off pretty quickly and she’ll wonder if you have a life.

 

Actually Asking Her Out

via keepitcasual.com

1. End of shift and during breaks.
These are your times to shine. Don’t follow her out to her car or anything, but near the end of her shift or right before / during her break are more or less the only acceptable times for you to approach her.

2. Keep this shit casual.
I’m really serious about you not asking her out to dinner on a first date. Actually, this isn’t even a date. This is two cute girls hanging out in the same space. This could lead to something else, sure. But right now? Right now this is not a date.

3. Give her an easy way out.
Because you’re keeping shit casual and you’re a really thoughtful person, you want to make it as unawkward as possible for her to decline your offer. This casualty goes slightly against Sarah’s advice to ask girls out directly, but only because this is your barista and we feel that a safety net of vagueness is in order. This way, if she declines your offer, you won’t feel quite as rejected and will hopefully be able to return to the coffee shop with little to no embarrassment. Some examples:

“I need a new newsboy cap so I was going to go over to the vintage store across the street and look. Oh, you get off in 20 minutes? Well, if you want, you can meet me there.”

“Do you like the kale chips at Vegan Mary’s next door? I was going to take a break from executive editing the popular gay girl website that I work for and get some fresh air, maybe some kale chips. Can I pick something up for you? Or you could come with?”

“Are you going to Two Door Cinema Club tomorrow night? Me too! Awesome, I’d love to buy you a drink and then make you want to have my babies. What? No I said “take the gluten out of gravies.” Gluten-free gravy is really hard to make. Anyway maybe I’ll see you there!”

It takes a special person to pull off the last one.

If you’ve successfully hit on a cute barista, or if you’ve been the barista of someone’s affections, let us know how that worked out for you!

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To send your question via ASS personal messaging, choose an editor: Riese | Laneia | Rachel
Or ask any team member you’d like: Meet the Team
*If messaging is down, email us! There are so many options, you guys! You could send carrier pigeons!*
For 100% anonymity, contact us through Formspring:  Riese | Laneia | Rachel

Please keep your questions to around, at most, 100 words. Due to the high volume of questions and feelings, not every question or feeling will be answered or published on Autostraddle. We hope you know that we love you regardless.

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Laneia is the Executive Editor and founding member of Autostraddle, and she thinks you're fucking rad. She's 33, has two kids, two dogs, one Megan, some personal essays and a lot of emails in her inbox.

Laneia Nicole has written 347 articles for us.

78 Comments

  1. Thumb up 4

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    Ugh, can I just say, as someone who has worked in retail, NOTHING creeps me out more than people using my name because they read it off my badge. It makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable — I wouldn’t use any barista/retail lady’s name unless she’s actually introduced herself to me, from my end it’s always felt like a weird sort of invasion of privacy, as I resented having to wear a name tag in the first place.

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        sorry i guess i wasn’t clear — i was going on the assumption that the person was a regular customer, with whom the barista would’ve already had conversations, most likely involving a mutual introduction. i didn’t mean that you would read a name tag.

        although, to be fair, that is the purpose of the name tag.

        • Thumb up 2

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          There’s a difference between some one who is using your name because they know it and a customer who is using your name because it’s on your name tag. You know?

          I wouldn’t open a conversation with the barista’s name, but use it to thank her after she made your drink or took your money or got you a muffin or what ever. “Thanks, (name)” is so much more casual and noncreepy than “Hey, (name), I want a blah.”

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          I had this really creepy customer once who guessed my name from the “A” charm I was wearing round my neck. It wasn’t particularly pervy because it would swing out when
          I went to put the drinks down, it was just that he insinuated himself in my space. Normally I don’t find it that creepy though when they’re just reading it off your name tag.

  2. Thumb up 3

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    oh I know someone who married her barista crush! Although not a gay story, it perhaps is still relevant. Her story is she flirted a bit each time she visited and then wrote her number on a napkin and put it in the suggestion box.

  3. Thumb up 1

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    So relevant right now! I’ve got a total crush on the super cute SBUX barista. I totally thought I was in a while back, when she started calling me “sweetheart” all the time, until I realized she says that to all the customers. *hangs head* oh well back to square 1.

  4. Thumb up 1

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    Great article, Laneia.

    I’ve been a barista for a super long 10 years (started at my dad’s shop when I was 13) and have come to understand my time behind the bar as the pinnacle of my social life. Behind the bar I feel like I can say anything and it won’t come out as awkwardly as if I had said it on the other side. I LOVE serving coffee, and every time someone flirts with me it just makes my shift. It makes me love serving coffee even more. Probably because a customer recognizes me as a person and not just someone in the service industry. And I can be outgoing and super energetic behind the counter, even enough to flirt back.

    Plus, the majority of my girlfriends/flings have come from flirting/awkwardness across the bar. And that’s always fun.

  5. Thumb up 1

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    Once upon a time I had a big ol’ crush on a barista who ended up getting back together with her ex-boyfriend. It was pretty heartbreaking at the time, but we ended up being pretty good friends regardless. But because of the whole “I think she’s gay, oh never mind, she has a boyfriend” ordeal, I’ve tried to avoid getting any more crushes on baristas.

  6. Pingback: You Need Help: Requisite Crush on a Barista – Autostraddle · TrendingTopicsFollower

  7. Thumb up 1

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    This is decent advice even for the non-romantically inclined coffee shop patron. I’m a grad student and will study for hours and hours at a time at coffee shops. I’m constantly being given free stuff (like muffins!) or larger coffees than I ordered ’cause I tip well and am super friendly/considerate. Could also be ’cause they take pity on me/think I’m homeless when I have been there for almost their entire shift.

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    Woah, I am a fairly new barista at this hip downtown store (I’ve never lived downtown, still don’t) and every day is a parade of adorable hipsters, confident business women, and friendly yoga ladies. I am over the moon when I detect an air of flirting because I’m used to the in and out of fast food and this whole “being treated like a person behind a counter” is pretty rad. So my advice is at least talk to me beyond hellos, and I’ll remember your life story by visit four or five.

    No cool stories yet, but I totally bungled a compliment/ vague flirtation today when I told a girl her haircut reminded me of one of the girls from The Human League. I forget that could come off as weird if you have a general sense of how terrible hair from the eighties usually was. Or if you have only heard “Don’t You Want Me” in Chips Ahoy ads and just want your chai so we can forget I said anything and end this. Oh god, that was just awful.

  9. Thumb up 1

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    As a Barista, I say yes! Do these things! Let the barista who thinks you are super swell know that you also think she is super swell! I currently am crushing on a customer who’s friends work in my store, and has been confirmed as a team player! As much as I’m a known flirt, I get tongue tied when she’s around.

    This from the girl who has written my number on a cup sleeve to give to a pretty lady

  10. Thumb up 1

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    OMFG THIS!

    Today I went to the campus coffee place and there is this girl who refills cups KEEPS GIVING ME THE LOOK and I’m like “hey gurrl” *cue creepy smile* and she runs away with her cute apron and hat *sigh*. She’s cute, really shy and TODAY she registered in my marketing class.

    What did I do to receive such a great favor from the lesbian gods?

  11. Thumb up 1

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    when i was an infant dyke there was a starbucks barista named destany. i hate starbucks and coffee, but i thought it was destiny. she gave me free drinks my first time there..the free drinks continued every visit after that. once, on a break, she asked me for a cigarette. i asked for her number, ended up calling her. we spoke for like 3 minutes and she said she was recovering from a concussion. i never called back..but had my first victory of a hot girls phone number
    baristas are a strange and irresistible breed.

  12. Thumb up 1

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    As a bartender, I love this advice, though I would only be so lucky as to have cute, non-hetero ladies visit my bar as often as flirtatious men and in love couples. If I was straight, I’d probably have met some decent men by now, but the overwhelming majority of my customers are anything but queer. Alas. Lesbians of the world…do you not go out past 8 pm? Quit cuddling your kitty-cats and come out. We, bartenders, could use more of you–I need cute ladies flirting/wanting to make gluten-free gravy with me. I’ll make you a drink that’ll knock your rainbow unicorn socks off. Deal?

  13. Thumb up 1

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    I am dating the barista! This advice would have been very handy about 12 months ago when I was pining over her and had no idea how to proceed (I totes thought she was a straight girl). It turns out my barista had been crushing on me for the same amount of time that I had been crushing on her. So, I got pretty lucky on that one. But, I have to say, I was rather successful at being awkwardly vague when we finally had the ‘let’s hang out’ conversation.

    I do wish I would have asked her to make babies with me. M’eh, I’ll just go ask her now.

  14. Thumb up 1

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    So.
    Both!
    I’m in Aus and I worked as a barista for bout 3 years so I think good coffee is a thing annnnnd last time I traversed the country I met the most freaking attractive barista I’ve ever seen. In a tiny coffee place, where there was just her in a coffee apron and dirty jeans with a (good) machine. I was leaving on a jet plane that afternoon, so I flirted my socks off (awkwardly but enthusiastically, blushingly) and it was incredibly obvious, but also reciprocated! So I won! But then I flew away home, feeling effervescent but unfulfilled.

    During my three years hospo, my coffee place was kind of a dyke beat on my campus, and employed some queers, and was pretty hectic workplace. So ridiculous jokes and flirting just became my customer service style, partly because it was fun because of all the babes, partly because it made people laugh and I’m a fool. And all the staff just made OTT dirty jokes at each other all the time to avoid boredom.. I had heaps of customer crushes. But unfort nothing serious – though two years later, people still remember me from there. Sometimes when they’re cute I still remember them too.. but often only as double-shot-skinny-latte-with-two.. which doesn’t help much :(

  15. Thumb up 1

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    shoutout to the hot chick who used to come into the place i worked with a cute slouchy hat and a scarf and like her grandma. i’m pretty sure you were straight, but whatever. never forget.

  16. Thumb up 1

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    1. My roommate is dating a barista. But they’re straight, so I don’t know the story of how it came to be. Whenever I’m in the area, I like to stop by his coffee shop and say, “Hey- you’re screwing my roommate. Can I get a free iced tea?” (Note: this hasn’t happened…yet.)

    2. My best friend (gay male) is in love with a barista. I sent him this article and told him to replace “she” with “he” and “fingerblast” with “handjob, or whatever you guys do.”

  17. Thumb up 2

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    I am a barista at a military base. All that happens is that a bunch of privates hit on me when they see I don’t wear a wedding ring. So sad. But today, my girlfriend came in in her uniform and we got to kiss hello in front of everyone! :) #dadtrepealftw

  18. Thumb up 4

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    OPPOSITE PROBLEM– as a barista, how on earth do you ask out girls that are regular customers without scaring them away, or getting them to file a harassment complaint with my manager??

    I feel soooooo creepy sometimes with my half smile and extended eye contact. even more so when a wink sneaks out on accident. I know they just want their caffeine, BUT I WANT TO TAKE OFF THEIR PANTS!

  19. Thumb up 1

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    when i was a wee teenage dyke i had a huge crush on the barista at the coffee shop i went to every day after school. one day i had just had a horrible fight with my ex girlfriend and crashed my bike and was at the place where the love of my life worked. i figured shit couldn’t get any worse, so i wrote her a note on a scrap of paper to the effect of “hey, i think you’re really really cute and i just wanted to let you know that. have a good evening!” when i tried to hand it to her, she thought it was a piece of trash or something and gave me this disgusted look, until i said “thisisforyousorry!” and shoved it into her hand before i ran out the door.

    didn’t have the guts to go back for months, and by then she wasn’t working there anymore. i always wonder what she thought of that. creepy? endearing?

    oh god. what if MAYBE SHE READS AUTOSTRADDLE.

    if so: please note that i’m way cuter than i was at 16.

    • Thumb up 1

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      A similar thing happened to me with a bartender, I was pretty sure she was flirting with me, trying to get me to take more shots than I asked for, etc. And I was in a different country so I thought what the hell and wrote my number on a napkin (which was quite the ordeal because I didn’t have a pen or know my abroad phone number, haha) and handed it to her, she immediately went to crumple it up and throw it away, and I was like oh..no..wait.. that’s for you..! and then ran away.

      Two days later she texted me and we flirted via text for several months before I had to leave the country without actually ever meeting up, oops!

  20. Thumb up 2

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    Does this advice work for librarians? Because there are SO MANY CUTE LIBRARIANS at the local library, they make me swoon but I don’t know how to get their attention besides “what’s the number of the computer I booked again?”.

  21. Thumb up 1

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    I loved this article, Laneia nailed it.

    My barista crush looks like a short-haired Aria Montgomery (she even rocks the feather earrings!) Starbucks hires some good-looking girls in Toronto.

  22. Thumb up 1

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    The advice in this article applies to just about anything in the service industry. I have been working in a clothing store, and flirting with customers/asking people out worked just the same there. Then again: years ago, I once asked this cute bloke in the Mac Store out for drinks, after he gave me really good advice on doctors and what type of mouse to use with my carpal tunnel. But then he turned out to have a gf and I was scared to go into that store ever after. I was ashamed of misjudging his friendliness/helpfulness. :(

    Oh and something else I just thought of: DON’T ask for someones number when you haven’t talked to them at all. I have been bartending for years, and it always creeped me out so badly. WHY on earth would I give my number to someone I haven’t even talked to ?

  23. Thumb up 1

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    OH MY GOODNESS, AUTOSTRADDLE. YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I HAVE NEEDED THIS HELP FOR LIKE 2 MONTHS. She just recently started recognizing me because I look really different all the time and I’m always one misstep away from saying “Marry Me!” It’s creepy.
    Thank you,
    Nora “A Creeper” Isabella

  24. Thumb up 1

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    I am a barista at a starbucks, and this article made me laugh, soo hard. we talk about our regulars allllll the time, especially the cute ones. We have crushes on our regulars on a regular basis, but don’t say anything because, duh, we are at work. So say something to US please! Give us a sign! Come see us on our smoke breaks. :)

  25. Thumb up 1

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    i AM the queer barista and this article is fantastic. yes, we do know your name, yes, you probably know mine, yes, i’m trying not to spill milk on my shoes, yes, think of some cute way to ask me out. maybe not a coffee date though?

  26. Thumb up 1

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    This one time, I fancied this barista and spent like a week with my gay boy best friend wondering if she was gay, which we decided she must be on account of owning at least three different pairs of converse and having a very slight swagger.

    So I left my number on a napkin and drew a picture of a plesiosaur saying “J’existe” and wrote “Thank you for my hot chocolate, here is a portrait by way of gratitude. To commission further works of art, please contact…” – it was WINNING. And she DID text and we DID meet up. She had a girlfriend though, so it was all extremely platonic, but far be it from me to let a person’s attractive appearance and relationship status prevent them from being my friend.

    AND THEN BY THE NEXT DAY, SHE’D NEARLY LOST HER JOB, HER GIRLFRIEND AND HER FLAT, all as a result of that dino-napkin, and I have never seen her since, even in the coffee shop.

    Just sayin’.

    At least my gaydar is on though, eh.

  27. Thumb up 1

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    I was studying abroad in denmark and I was absolutely smitten with my barista, I couldn’t tell if we were flirting, but it sure felt like it, we talked a lot because it was usually pretty slow when I went in. she even told me there was an event at her coffee shop/bar (coolest place ever, btw) and said I should come check it out, so of course I awkwardly did, by myself, and she came over and talked to me for a while when she could, I felt like we really had a connection, but I was leaving in a couple weeks, so I was kind of nervous and knew it couldn’t just slowly take its course. Eventually, under the guise of her showing me some cool last minute sights, I got her number and we planned a day to go on a “date”, but she cancelled at the last minute, I was devastated!

    I still have her number though.. would it be weird for me to contact her if I go back next year?

  28. Thumb up 1

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    I met Ashley at a coffee shoppe in the town where I went to college. I wrote my senior thesis there so she and I had quite a lot of interaction. We had instant chemistry from the moment we started talking to one another and both fell hard into crush-mode. Fast forward a month or so and she dropped a metal rod on my head. I never let her forget it – and every time she blushed. I made it a point one day to ask her if she wanted to hang out over the weekend and she said yet… to Beer Olympics at my fratty college house. Fast forward to 8 month later and I help her to open the shoppe a couple of times a week and we’re UHauling the shit out of this relationship. I unknowingly did all of the things in this article… and snagged my cute barista :)

  29. Thumb up 1

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    What is with so many girls crushing on baristas?? Okay, they have the insider status at your fav hangout spot — but it seems like most queer girls would rather bang the barista or bike tuner-upper than the hot successful lawyer or business owner. Can anyone explain??

  30. Thumb up 1

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    Lucky for me, as soon as I came out my two straight barista friends begged to hook me up with a lesbian they worked with (as most straight people do). Turns out, we hit it off before we even knew we had met each other. I asked her what drink she recommended, and she made a quip about something with vodka in it, and I said I was a sucker for cheap wine, preferably while watching a lame movie with some great company. Apparently I’m a smooth talker around attractive coffee shop chicks, because that worked!

  31. Thumb up 1

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    Awww barista love….it took 8 months of skinny lattes and a coincidental meeting at the circus (its a small town, our seats were next to each other) for me and my barista crush to hit it off. We fell in love over a game of Draw Something, there was some giggling about chicken tattoos and actual pigeons and we never looked back. Fast forward 3 months and we’re in that super, new-relationship type place, with the movies and the cuddling, lots of kissing and dirty texts :)

  32. Thumb up 1

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    I love this article!

    A gorgeous gal in a ‘Shake-a-way’ in Falmouth? Long brown hair, cute smile – if you are reading this, four christmasses ago, it was snowing, and I sat for 2 hours flirting with you waiting for a bus. Then I went to my best friends house and came out. Hot barista, you were the moment of realisation!
    p.s. Since coming out and working as a Barista myself, i love/hate cute women who flirt (?!) with me at work, I get all confused and dont know what to do. Still makes me smile though :)

    Four for you Barista girls, four for you x

  33. Thumb up 1

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    i have a huge crush on a barista, but i can’t decide if i should bite the bullet/risk giving up my fav coffee and ask her out or just see if real life works some magic for me. i’ve always noticed her but never thought she’d be interested until one say she literally told me she’d seen me around there for 2 years and never seen me smile. of course that floored me and now i smile at her like a fool every time i’m there, but was that flirting or just being really super cute/nice?? BARISTAS HELP ME OUT PLEASE!

  34. Thumb up 0

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    As a barista, what I REALLY need is the inverse on this…how to ask out a girl without being a creeper! I pretty much develop a crush on any lady who looks at me longer than 3 seconds, and it can be quite frustrating not knowing the intentions of a lady in line! Are they just being friendly? Are they looking for a job? Is my hair really that amazing? (Yes, it is, actually).

    I think what we ALL want to know is what people REALLY mean when one says, “Do you want a cup of coffee?”

    -R

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