After being an avid consumer for 12 years, I decided to find out what all the hype was about when it came to working for Starbucks. I figured it would be ideal. Sling espresso while my kids were in school and challenge my quickly growing introverted self into an engaging member of the community in which I lived.
I applied and was hired the very next day. Their desperation for staff was keenly felt as I witnessed the frantic partners with too long of a line and not enough baristas to cover the shifts.
I was excited. I longed for a fast paced environment because it made time pass quickly and wouldn't be a complete yawn fest. Plus, I loved coffee. What could be better?
Not only was I going to make espressos and frappucinos, I was going to make pour overs and learn the beauty behind the Flat White and the definition of a ristretto shot.
I was heck bent on demystifying the glamorous life of a Starbucks barista. I had wanted to work for them for years and had applied no less than a dozen times. I had read "How Starbucks Saved My Life" by Michael Gill and eagerly absorbed Howard Schultz's book, "Onward". Needless to say I could barely sleep the night before my first shift.
But what I encountered was anything but glamorous...
I dumped disgusting amounts of trash, cleaned the café table bases and waste cans, scrubbed dried chili off the walls from someone who snuck their lunch in, mopped up the teen girl's dumped Venti Green Tea Frappucino, and learned that people mean business when it comes to 3 or 4 pumps in their mocha.
If you're going in with the thought of whiling away hours honing your latte art skills, think again.
You aren't a true barista unless you have scrubbed the floor drains with bleach and a toothbrush.
I think my moment of clarity that people are seriously messed up came when a customer asked me to weigh her cappuccino in order confirm her ratio of milk to foam was even. Another moment soon followed when a woman produced a rose petal and asked me to steep it in her Pike Place Roast brew.
And while there are plenty of opportunities to hone your craft, the fact remains that being a barista is not as glamorous as one might think. Because contrary to popular belief, the majority of your time is spent doing dishes, refilling cups and restocking the condiment bar.
But I learned so much in the short month and a half I was employed. I learned that for the past 12 years I have been spending an obscene amount of money on basically sugar and water.
I learned the garbage and waste that goes out in one 4 hour shift, is staggering. I learned that people get really snotty about their coffee and need to visit a third world country for a while.
I learned that I'm a gross consumer of Starbucks. I learned that even though I realize this, I will still be a faithful customer.
I learned that baristas deserve a heck of a lot more money.
I discovered baristas hold a great amount of power since they are the direct link between you and caffeine.
I discovered we are considered drug dealers to many and the longer you make a customer wait for their hit, the more dreadful your morning will become.
I discovered that I personally contribute to the obesity problem in America when I make a Venti Caramel Frappucino with extra caramel.
I learned that hell hath no fury than a white girl in yoga pants discovering you ran out of pumpkin spice.
I've also discovered a lot about myself and it's been quite illuminating. I don't know about you but being trained by a girl 25 years my junior is a lesson in humility.
I've learned that these kids can run circles around me, leaving me in a cloud of latte foam.
I've learned that while there is the potential of weight gain from sampling product, the odds are pretty much in your favor to lose weight. Working for this company requires serious work and I basically crawled home.
I've discovered that I love making coffee and if you're nasty to me I will pull decaf shots instead of regular espresso because I'm vindictive like that.
And in case you're wondering, don't ever NOT tip your barista or worse, drop in your 3 pennies. The person that just made your drink does not earn a living wage so cut them some slack and cash up! I figure anyone that makes your morning bearable deserves quality compensation!