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Life Secrets of a Barista

Life Secrets of a Barista

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?

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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”.

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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.

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  • 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.

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Featured photo credit: Wikipedia Commons via upload.wikimedia.org

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Colin Rhodes

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

6 Reasons Why French Press Makes the Best Coffee

6 Reasons Why French Press Makes the Best Coffee

If you like coffee, you will find that you have many choices. You can spend lots of money to let Starbucks make it for you. You can purchase a high-priced espresso machine to create a good cup of coffee. You can spend very little money on a drip machine. You can buy a percolator. The final choice is a French press machine.[1]

How Does French Press Work?

When you brew coffee In a French press, you should start with coarse-ground beans. You shouldn’t  use a blade grinder because they don’t grind evenly and they make the beans warmer, which takes away the flavor you want in your cup. Get the press with a burr grinder or grind your beans at the store. Add the grounds into the French press carafe with very hot water and let it sit for three to five minutes. You want to push the grounds down with the tough strainer and pour yourself a cup.

Because of the differences, you will have to get used to the new flavor. You’ll appreciate the aroma and view the coffee oils floating on top. When you drink your coffee, you will taste the tiny bean particles. Coffee aficionados love the quality.

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Why Use a French Press?

Many people believe French press makes the best coffee. These are some reasons why.

Paper filters take out flavor and oils. When eating good foods, the flavor usually exists in the fats and oils. Paper filters in drip machines absorb much of the oil in your coffee grounds. French press doesn’t soak up flavor and adds tiny bits of coffee grounds in the coffee that percolates flavor.

French press allows for steeping. When you get a good cup of tea, you use bulk tea that steeps for several minutes depending on the type of tea. The end result is a mouth-watering cup of tea. The same is true for coffee through a French press. Because the grounds steep instead of filter, the coffee tastes better.

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Everything is in the cup. Using a French press means that everything except the ground coffee is in the cup. You taste all the flavors, which adds to the experience. You experience the coffee through all five senses.

No impurities are there. When you buy Folger’s and use a drip machine, you get impurities. First, impurities come from the manufacturing and distribution of the name-brand of coffee. Second, impurities show up from the drip machine and the way the coffee is made. However, with a French press, you drink the coffee the way it is meant to be drunk without impurities.

You get complete saturation of grounds. The French press does not allow you to miss any of the grounds. This means you are getting complete saturation of the coffee and oils. A drip machine doesn’t hit all the grounds. The saturation gives the coffee a different flavor than what you get from a drip machine or percolator.

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It’s the right temperature. French press maintains the right water temperature throughout the process, which makes a difference on how the coffee is brewed. Drip machines and percolators often heat up the water quickly and cool down just as quickly, which means the right temperature only happens during the middle of the process instead of throughout the whole brewing cycle.

Tips for Making Coffee in Your French Press

Use a course grinder

Weigh your coffee and water because coffees have different densities. For instance, African coffees tend to be thicker than South American coffees. The density difference means that a volume measurement will not be as accurate as a weight measurement.

Wet the grinds first because you can eliminate carbon dioxide in the grinds. Then, your coffee won’t taste sour.

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Stir it after a minute of processing because the grounds will float to the top and not be in the water.

Brew for four minutes to get the best taste from the coffee. Use your kitchen timer to count the four minutes.

Plunge and pour

If you are still using a percolator or drip machine, you should purchase a French press machine and taste the difference in the coffee. You will then want to put away your drip machine and have the best tasting coffee from your French press.

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] That Fresh Feeling: What is the Best French Press Coffee Maker

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