Why Starbucks Employees Really Don't Want You To Get Your Own Straws

Whether driven by impatience, absentmindedness, or the simple desire not to bother the busy baristas, some Starbucks customers choose to reach behind the counter and help themselves to straws, splash sticks, sugars, and other items they need from behind the barrier, rather than ask an employee for assistance. However, even if the intentions behind this practice are good, having customers reaching behind the counter is actually the opposite of helpful — Starbucks baristas find it frustrating and even wasteful. The barriers are there for a reason, and Starbucks employees would much rather have you ask for a straw rather than try to get it for yourself.

All food workers are taught to be mindful of safe food handling practices at all times, and especially in times of COVID-19, Starbucks employees have to be extra careful to limit the spread of germs and avoid any potential contamination. So, whenever a customer reaches around the barrier and touches things, that entire area is then considered contaminated, meaning the tools and counters have to be thoroughly disinfected and all the disposable items have to be thrown in the trash. Thus, whenever a customer reaches around to grab a straw for themselves, all the other wrapped straws they also touched have to be immediately discarded.

Starbucks employees have to throw away everything customers may have contaminated

One frustrated Starbucks barista was so fed up with customers contaminating their straws by reaching around the barrier that they took a photo of all the wasted straws that had to be thrown out, posting it on Reddit with the caption: "Dear customers, this is what happens when you reach around the shields to help yourself. Please stop." 

Many other Starbucks employees were quick to voice their own frustrations with the customers who help themselves rather than ask for assistance. "Yup, did the same thing with all of our raw sugars this morning. We've started tossing them in the trash right in front of the customer so they can see the consequences," u/danielleboww agreed. "Had a customer literally put her knee on the counter and hoist herself up to reach a straw that was far behind the shield. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and stared at her for probably a good 2 minutes," u/finzablazin replied

So, if you really want to make baristas' lives a little easier, don't reach around the protective shields. Simply be patient, polite, and ask them for a straw or anything else you might need behind the counter — they'll be happy to help.