Let’s face it – I’m a coffee fanatic. I need my properly brewed flat white to kick the day off right. Without it I’m just mental mush.
It took me a while to pick my “local”; the coffee shop I would frequent every day early in the morning to watch people grapple with life as they went through their morning routines. Over time I gravitated towards my local Starbucks and found within its walls a crew of Baristas I came to know by name.
Like any writer I can’t meet someone without getting curious about their life story, the events of their day, and their interactions with others. So I started listening carefully to their conversations with customers and then began asking probing questions. Did these humble servants of the bean have a secret life; perhaps some caffeinated stories to tell?
Please note: Starbucks did not condone this article and it was not written on company property, nor did company representatives participate on company time or give specific details about company practices or company secrets.
First The Good ..
Researching this article really made me appreciate the positive aspects of being a Barista. Unlike staff in other retail jobs, Baristas really know their customers, and I’ve heard heart-warming stories that really surprised me. For example, did you know that at some stores staff attend funerals for selected regulars? I’ve even heard stories about birthday cards being sent by snowbirds, and fruit-baskets being brought in for staff who were sick. This hints at the kinds of relationships that can be built over the counter.
Creepiest Story of All Time
One happily married Barista described a story where a guy came in when the staff had decorated the store with balloons and streamers. There was one placard saying “Kiss me I’m 40”.
The next day his wife found a Craigslist missed connections article saying “I saw the Kiss Me I’m 40 sign and I just wanted to kiss you”, printed it out and gave it to the Barista for a joke.
A couple of weeks later the same guy applied for a job at the store. Can you spell S-T-A-L-K-E-R?
What drives a Barista nuts?
The general consensus is that while many customers are worthy individuals, some can be challenging to say the least. Here’s some things Barista’s absolutely loathe.
- Don’t reload your Starbucks card during the morning rush with eight people in line.
- Don’t forget to tip if your drink is complex. Baristas make a good wage but a little extra goes a long way.
- Don’t use your phone at the counter. It’s rude to talk on the phone or surf the internet while ordering. Show some respect for your your Barista.
- Don’t pick up the wrong drink. If you ordered an Americano, then don’t pick up the passionfruit ice tea for godsake! Pay attention people!
- Don’t order stupid drinks. A grande frappe double mocha chip is fine, but a non-fat with whip is just stupid.
- Don’t ask dumb questions about your order. Asking, “did I put whip in that” is not going to make you popular. Know your drinks.
- Don’t hit on the staff. It’s endemic as well as unappreciated. One staff member we spoke to told me of an incident when a 50 year old man made a highly offensive sexual comment to her while on break. Now she goes outside and sits in her car to avoid harassment.
What’s the dumbest drink ever ordered?
As one veteran Barista put it so well “oh lord .. there are so many to choose from.” Here’s three of the best!
- Barista #1: Mocha Frappuccino with a scoop of matcha powder, and a shot of espresso.
- Barista #2: “Venti” pumpkin spice latte with ten pumps of syrup three times a day. The entire crew wondered if he had diabetes.
- Barista #3: A skim anything with 2% foam. Enough said.
Dirty little secrets?
Starbucks is full of people cheating on their spouses, and believe me, the Baristas know who’s who as well as who’s doing who. I’ve heard stories about well known members of the community conducting trysts under the green and white sign, hands locked in lovers embrace – with their wedding rings noticeably missing.
There’s something of a code of silence that Barista’s have about such issues. They’re often treated to the same information that’s potentially damaging and they understand that what goes on in the store, stays in the store.
Featured photo credit: Wikipedia Commons via upload.wikimedia.org