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.

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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.


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


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


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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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 36, has two kids, two dogs, one Megan, some personal essays and a lot of emails in her inbox. More at

Laneia has written 772 articles for us.