Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you like it when Baristas make small talk with you? Do you appreciate it when your waiter or waitress strikes up a conversation?

If you end up in a conversation with someone at a bar or cafe, how can you keep the small talk short or make it longer depending on the situation? Today we’ll show you how to do it.

Girls, you don’t have idea how I’ve improved my listening with you. I’m from Venezuela and I came to San Francisco, (USA) a year ago. I’ve studied English but I have a problem, around me there are so many latin people, then I can’t speak English whole day, as I’d like it. But thanks help me a lot. The second one but not less important, while I try to improve my English for looking for a job as journalist, I’m working in a cafe/bakery/restaurant and I got a promotion as Barista-Cashier (I was cook) I’d love to listen from you vocabulary, suggestions of how to be nice with the costumers. Which are the best words or sentences for getting a small and nice conversation while I’m taking the orders on the register and offering ours best breads, drinks and plates.

I know I’ve asked for so much. I’m sorry about that, but you’re my idols. I really appreciate A LOT all that you’ve done for us.



Odell Lopez

To get started with this topic you can check out AEE 1052: 3 Questions to Consider When You Start a Conversation with Someone Who Is Working.

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Great question and congrats on the job! We wish you lots of luck! If you are a barista, there are a few things to keep in mind with customers. Here are two main things you should think about when deciding whether or not to make small talk:

How busy is the cafe/restaurant? If it’s very busy or there is a long line, you probably want to keep any comments short and sweet to keep the line moving. You can say things like:

-How are you today?

-What can I getcha?

-I recommend the…

-Have a great day!

How busy is the customer? It may be empty in the restaurant but that doesn’t mean the customer wants to talk. You have to read their body language and how they are speaking. Are they speaking in short, clipped sentences? Probably try to just use phrases from step 1. Are they looking at their phone or making eye contact with you? Are they asking questions? These are things you should be on the lookout for to help you decide what your customer wants. You can still be polite and speak with them a little if they are in a rush, but it doesn’t have to be anything more than polite short questions and statements.

So let’s talk about if you have a customer who is smiling, making eye contact, doesn’t appear to be in a rush..what are some more interesting and fun things you can say to them?

To make a recommendation:

  • L: Which is better? The cinnamon latte or the hot chocolate?
  • Well what are you in the mood for/that depends what you’re in the mood for? The X is ____ and the Y is _____

Well what are you in the mood for? The cinnamon latte is a bit spicier and the hot chocolate is sweet.

– I think you should try the __________________. It’s/they’re my favorite.

-If you like ___________, you should give ____________ a try (if you like chocolate, you should give our new cookies a try.)

General small talk as you are preparing their dish or getting them checked out:

-How’s everything with you today?

-How’s your day going?

(these two are a little more open ended)

-Is it still _____________ out there? (is it still raining out there?) this one is very common

-Have you been here before or is this your first time? (said a lot at restaurants)

At the end , if they have eaten there:

-so how’d you like the..

-what’d you think of the..

-I hope you liked the..

Truthfully, you have to see what the customer is in the mood for regarding talking. These phrases are good to feel them out to see if they want to continue talking or not. Take their cue. We can do a followup on how to deepen the small talk with a customer if they are interested.


Read your customer. You can feel them out with questions and by what they are saying. If they ask for a recommendation, say things like hmmm, it seems they may have time and are open to small talk rather than someone in a rush or if they line is long.

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