Another Disruptive TikTok Trend Is Plaguing Starbucks Baristas This Time Around

surprise me drink starbucks
Starbucks' 'Surprise Me' Drink Is Causing Problems@kristenalk / TikTok

From secret menu items, to seasonal products, and, of course, a franchise-specific language for sizing, ordering at Starbucks can be daunting. Especially when the clock is ticking with cars behind you in the drive-thru, or there's a long line of people during the morning rush. If you’re looking for a solution to drive-thru indecisiveness, you might have even considered just placing your fate in the hands of your barista and let them take the wheel entirely and decide what drink you get. Well, one TikToker’s viral video is showing why that might not be the best idea.

“Surprise me.” Though a seemingly carefree and innocuous phrase, there’s a reason these two words can often conjure up a cocktail of strong reactions from those who have worked in the service industry. Sure, to a bored bartender or barista during slow hours, being asked to show off their signature drink (or just experiment with new recipes) might be a fun challenge. But, for those who have ever been asked to “surprise” someone while tending a packed line of patrons, the request doesn’t exactly “read the room” when considering your barista’s position.

In the video, TikToker @kristenalk explains that the Starbucks drive-thru line had a 35-minute wait. Nevertheless, she asks the barista for a "surprise me drink."

“I can get you an iced water. That sounds good,” the barista responded, prompting Alk to comment that the barista “did NOT pass the vibe check.”

Surely, Alk didn’t mean any harm when posting this video. One click on the hashtags “#starbuckschallenge” and “#surprisemedrink” in the caption will show that this kind of challenge has been trending on TikTok for some years now. Still, Alk’s divided comment section brings up an important question: Is it rude to ask your barista to “surprise you”?

“You should email Starbucks ! They’ll refund you for sure,” wrote one commenter. “As a fast food worker it’s not that we don’t want to make it but we don’t know what your taste is and not only that some come back bc they don’t like,” wrote another user.

Though some commenters claimed to be former baristas who loved surprising customers, there was a large consensus that this kind of challenge can cause unnecessary obstacles for employees during an already-hectic work shift.

The viral discourse is an important reminder to take proper consideration before participating in the “surprise me” trend—or any internet challenge—at restaurants. If you still want to try it, though, some extra consideration can help you to ensure you’re not doing more harm than good, like only going to an establishment during slow hours, asking for permission before you start recording, and asking the person if they’re in the mood for this kind of challenge to begin with. Though some people might have a blast getting creative behind the counter, others might be just as surprised to be tasked with a weird request while on the clock.

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