Baristas Will Hate You For This Coffee Hack. Here's Why

Look, we get it. That pricey coffee specialty drink you just have to have every morning is expensive — whether it's a Starbucks Frappuccino, a Dunkin' Hot Caramel Macchiato, or some other caffeinated indulgence. If your funds aren't unlimited, you've probably found some clever coffee shop hacks for getting the taste of a fancier drink for the price of a basic shot of espresso. The most well-known workaround is to order an espresso shot over ice and then go wild at the condiment bar with the creamer and packets of sugar or artificial sweetener (via AOL). Some stealthy folks will even keep a bottle of Torani in their car so they can sneak in some vanilla or hazelnut shots post-purchase.

While there's nothing technically illegal about this, don't be surprised if you're getting served some serious side-eye with your espresso. In an interview with Mashed, Alice Nelson, who is a manager at Crows Coffee in Kansas City, Missouri, and has 13 years of barista experience under her belt, admitted that most people in her trade are not a fan of your cost-savings hacks. "The milk and sugars, etc., at the condiment bar, are meant to be as it's named: a condiment, a topping, an enhancement, not a replacement," Nelson said. To put it into perspective, she pointed out, "You wouldn't go get a 16-ounce cup at McDonald's and fill it up with ketchup."

The dairy is one of the most expensive ingredients in your coffee beverage, barista explains

Because it's left out on the counter for the taking, perhaps you've assumed that the creams and milks at your coffee shop are cheap and that there's nothing wrong with pouring in half a canister of half-and-half into your oversized cup of plain espresso and ice. Nelson would like all of her customers to understand that in fact, the dairy is one of the most expensive components of any fancy coffee drink. "Milk is not cheap, and what is usually out for folks to use is half and half," she explained. "Half and half runs around $2.50 to 3.00 per pint, depending on where you are. If you order a large cup, as most of the hacks tell you to, that's a 20 to 24 ounce cup, room for ice and the shots — that can leave 16 to 20 ounces of space for you to fill 'er up. That can be a pint or more!"

Really, in this situation, you're pretty much stealing from the store, Nelson said. "Imagine walking into a grocery store, taking a pint of half and half out of the cooler and walking out the door with it, saying, it's no big deal, I'm saving money," she said. "You would never do something like that!"

Your cost-saving hack might jack up the price of coffee drinks — for everyone!

Even if you're saving a few bucks by getting a doctored up Frappuccino for the price of espresso on ice, eventually, this trick will catch up to your wallet — and everyone else's, warned Nelson. "If people start emptying out a carafe to cheat the system, it throws the whole system out of whack, raising the cost of goods," she said. You may also pay a price in taste when you try to DIY your own fancy drink. "Pulling shots over ice doesn't taste good. It shocks the espresso and starts to dilute, immediately watering it down," Nelson explained. "So you may get some caffeine, but it's not going to taste nearly as good as if you just get it made properly."

The bitterness of your barista might not taste so good, either, and could be served with a secret side of revenge. "When you order it this way, the barista knows exactly what you are doing and will automatically get a bit ragey on the inside," Nelson confessed. "They will go ahead and give you exactly what you asked for. I tend to pack the cup as full of ice as I possibly can and then pull those shots as long as I can, to try to take up as much space in the cup so you can't take as much."