Wednesday, April 17, 2024
HomeOpinionAdviceA Boba Worker Rant: How to Be a Bobablicious Customer

A Boba Worker Rant: How to Be a Bobablicious Customer

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I started working at a boba shop in the winter of last year. I applied to the closest shop to my house and became what my workplace calls a “bobarista.” 

There are many benefits to working at a boba shop. I mix silly little powders with tea. I will not be restricted by dress codes. I can wear my Pokemon hat and get to listen to my coworkers’ various side-eye dramas. However, I can’t deny that there have also been times when I’ve been on the verge of throwing freshly-made, scorching-hot boba at customers or just pouring it onto myself. 

In these moments, I always wonder if I am being too dramatic or if that customer seriously had the audacity to ask for two ice cubes in their drink. I’ve come to the realization that while the boba culture is mighty strong in Southern California, there are still many people who do not know how to order drinks in a fashion that does not make bobaristas want to rip the hair out of their scalps. 

So, I’ve decided to bestow upon myself the responsibility of teaching all potential customers how to properly act at a boba establishment. After reading this guide, you will be able to walk confidently into a shop and make the workers talk about you behind your back with delightful positivity.

Here are some common misconceptions that are associated with boba establishments. Please note that every boba place is unique in its own way. These are just a few common annoyances that both me and my coworkers have complained about. 

On ordering:

1. Most boba places cannot just give you a cup solely filled with boba. 

I understand that sometimes people don’t want the drinks that come with the boba. Tea isn’t for everyone, and boba can be enjoyed as a good dessert topping. Do people realize that a bag of boba can cost as little as $8? That’s the price of most drinks at a super-aesthetic and expensive boba place. It’s really easy and cheap to just get pre-made tapioca pearls and make them at home. That way, you don’t have to scream at me for not giving you boba!

2. Pearls, boba, tapioca and other synonyms are all the same thing. They are all boba balls. 

Speaking of boba, different places refer to it by different names. At my place, the menu calls them pearls. The amount of times that I’ve had to explain that pearls are also boba is probably the same amount of times that I’ve robotically wished a customer, who finished their order, “have a wonderful day” because capitalism has programmed my brain to say that phrase no matter what. 

3. Please pay attention to the menu and actually READ IT to know which drinks have toppings in them. 

I say this with my entire soul — NOT EVERY DRINK COMES WITH BOBA. Especially with the bobaflation, boba is usually an extra topping with the drink. This is why I clarified that boba and pearls are the same thing because, at my workplace, if a drink’s name has “with pearl” at the end of it, it means that it comes with boba. If it doesn’t, that means it doesn’t come with boba! Wow, how amazing is the English language? Too bad many customers just don’t like to read it!

4. If all else fails, just ask us what’s in a drink. 

Hey, we have some weird drinks. If you don’t know what a drink is about or what’s in it, ask us. We can even let you know which drinks we love and which drinks are so horrible that they make us vomit in our mouths while making them. 

On behavior:

We now move onto the list of icks that bobaristas have when working. These are things that I and other coworkers will always, and I mean always, complain about. If you don’t want your bobarista to absolutely despise you and give the most bombastic side-eye to their coworkers when you walk in, please follow this new set of simple and easy rules. 

5. For the love of God and everything good in this world, I beg of you, DO NOT STARE AT US WHEN WE MAKE YOUR DRINK. 

This is probably the most important rule to follow if you don’t want your bobarista to hate your entire existence. Listen, I know that most boba places have a bunch of high schoolers working in the back, and they look so young that you don’t trust them to make your drink properly. First of all, some of us are older and just look young because we are Asian and don’t raisin. Second of all, if there is a problem with your drink, almost every boba place will remake it for you or even let you order a different drink if it’s not to your taste. In addition, at least at my workplace, the entire bobarista population is made up of girls. So, if you’re creepily looking over to see us make drinks, my boba girlfriends and I are going to be uncomfortable. Please, if you don’t listen to any of my prior advice, at the very least listen to this one. 

6. Do not try to order your drink at the side of the cash register, you freaking creep.

The architecture of the desk that separates the worker and customer gives enough space for some customers to think they can just stand next to me. Again, it’s just creepy. I don’t need to be that close to you. Plus, I smell like expired pineapple jam. You shouldn’t even want to be next to me. 

7. If you broke rule number six, please do not ask us to change what we’re doing when we’re making your drink. 

I’m sorry, but do YOU know the recipe for your black milk tea? Do YOU know the recipe for your matcha latte? Unless you do, shut up and let me make your drink. 

8. Please do not point to the photo of the drinks we have and say, “I want that one!”

Again, the English language is a wonderful thing. Read the goddamn menu. 

9. Actually listen to the order that I recite back to you or that is on the machine in front of you. 

If I give you your drink and you say that you wanted boba in it after I recited and confirmed the entire list of 8 drinks you ordered, in my head, I am ripping the seal of your drink like Donkey Kong and smashing it into your face like the Hulk. Respectfully. 

10. If you order a bunch of blended drinks, we already hate you. 

I’ll never forget the day that I made ten taro ice blends for this man … and then made 20 more throughout the rest of my shift— I still have nightmares about that day.

11. Please do not come in 10 minutes before closing. 

I understand that you’re going on a late-night boba run with your friends because, what else is there to do in suburban Irvine. That’s totally fine. However, if your late-night run means going to a shop that closes in ten minutes, just know that the workers have already cleaned 75% of the store and put away 60% of the dishes needed to make your drinks. We will make them so fast and so poorly that you’ll probably just have spent $15 on diluted drinks with powder chunks, and that is not my problem. 

And that, my boba-fanatic friends, is a comprehensive guide on how not to be a horrible boba customer. I hope this sheds some light on the kind of work we do and educates you on ordering properly and efficiently at a boba shop. While this entire guide may seem like an attack on you or scare you away from ordering at a boba shop, just know that there are some customers I always enjoy serving when they come in. They almost always have a dog with them, by the way. They also tip and compliment my nails. Also, they say thank you and let me pet their dogs. Just letting you know. 

Skylar Paxton is an Opinion Staff Writer. She can be reached at