This Topping Makes You A Karen, According To A Starbucks Barista

Ah, Karens. A walking headache for both employees and patrons of establishments alike. These particular types of customers aren't afraid to take an average trip to Bath & Body Works or Olive Garden and turn it into a spectacle filled with drama, insults, and, in some cases, tears. No one wants to encounter a Karen, and no one wants to be labeled her, either. But just what exactly fits the description of this customer? Is it the way they always want to speak with the manager, or talk on their phone out loud in public with no concern for others? Or maybe it's the haughty sense of entitlement they display when they walk into a place? If only there was a way to accurately recognize this type of person before having to interact with them.

While Punkee offers some advice on how to properly recognize a Karen so you can avoid them (by spotting their poor attempts at haggling for non-existent discounts, for example), the truth is that a bad customer can't always be identified through stereotypical descriptions. According to one Starbucks barista, however, there is a particular thing you can order at the coffee chain that may make you give off the vibe of being a Karen.

Don't be a "Caramel Karen" next time you go to Starbucks

In a TikTok video, Starbucks barista Jamayia Chrystian posted about what seems like an average scenario: a customer asking for extra caramel syrup in their caramel macchiato. Yet, to Christian, this ask might make you a "caramel Karen," as she stated in her video caption. How exactly does requesting more caramel syrup in a caramel macchiato make you sound like a Karen? This was the criticism of many viewers, who believed that she was misusing the term that's normally reserved for combative, entitled customers. "Man, everyone is just throwing Karen around like it's nothing these days," one person said. "I guess I'm a Karen for mistaking extra caramel in something that was called a caramel macchiato," stated another. 

The focus on her caption took attention away from the actual message in Chrystian post, which, as it turns out, was meant to be a revelation that a caramel macchiato isn't really a caramel-based drink at all. Rather, it's a vanilla latte drizzled with some caramel sauce on top (via Sprudge). Commenters who also work at Starbucks tried to help explain Chrystian's original point: that people get agitated when the barista asks if they want vanilla syrup or extra caramel drizzle to make it sweeter. "But what you don't realize is that people snap at us like we're idiots when we try to clarify," one person stated. So, yeah, don't be that person — whatever you want to call her.

Being a coaching Karen doesn't help matters either

If you've ever worked in any sort of service job in the food industry, you'll know that there are some folks whose sole mission is to make things as complicated as humanly possible. These people want the toppings on their burger a very specific way or the flavor of their drink down to an exact tee. Even better, these self-important customers will often be so kind as to generously walk you, the server, through creating their complicated and time-wasting order, all but expecting you to bow and thank them for imparting their wisdom unto you. Baristas from the Starbucks forum on Reddit were all too eager to share the orders they've received from their local coaching Karens.

One reenacted their experience: "Good morning!" the barista said, to which a Karen responded with, "LEMON LOAF. Grande iced espresso, triple shot. Extra Caramel drizzle. Make sure you don't put the syrup in! 3 cap fulls of 2% milk. 2 pumps vanilla." Another worker got even more direct instructions from a Karen ordering a flat white: "Grande, Nonfat, absolutely No Foam or else a complaint will be placed to the manager and corporate." If you're ordering from a Starbucks worker, you can usually trust that they know how to make your drink.

Baristas don't always love making secret menu drinks

As any veteran of the internet will tell you, secret menus contain supposedly "hidden" items of your favorite fast-food locations. These can range from an apple pie McFlurry at McDonald's to a banana split Blizzard at Dairy Queen (via #HackTheMenu). Of course, there's a Starbucks secret menu, too — but if you order from it, you could inadvertently be behaving like a Karen if it means you're making your barista's life harder.

According to Thrillist, Starbucks baristas have a sort of "love/hate" relationship with the secret menu. One employee shared that while they appreciate the creativity behind some of the combinations, they often involve steps that go against the workers' rules. Putting a brownie in the blender for a secret-menu Frappuccino, for example, is technically not allowed. Other secret menu items take an enormous amount of time to figure out and prepare, holding up the line and causing the barista to rush to handle the back-up. 

In fact, what upsets Starbucks employees the most is when a customer gets angry at them for not remembering what every single secret recipe is. "Honestly, yes it's annoying and we will judge you," says one barista on Reddit. "But we'll make it anyway and not say anything about it because that's our job. ... It is infinitely less annoying if you know the recipe before you order and just order it in normal terms."