When coffee shops come to mind, the image is usually something cozy that involves someone reading in an oversized chair by a fireplace. Students are taking over tables, friends are meeting up to chat, and at the heart of it all is the barista.
I’ve been working as a barista for a few years now, and I’ve learned a lot about the people who choose to get their coffee at high-end shops instead of the gas station.
Americans Really Are Addicted To Caffeine
There is a running joke in our culture about caffeine addiction. The joke is funny because it is real. The early morning customers are cranky because they haven’t had their fix yet. Many customers stop by multiple times per day. It is not uncommon to see one get annoyed if drip coffee is not immediately available.
Customers Don’t See Baristas As Professionals
I worked at the coffee shop for about eight months before I could say with confidence that I could consistently create good beverages. Years later I’m still practicing and improving. Baristas are skilled professionals. Customers usually don’t understand that.
Customers Share Everything But Their Names
Most of the customers I see are regulars. I don’t know most of their names. I know their favorite drinks, where they are from, where they work, what kind of dogs they have, what kind of car they drive, and their opinion on the president. People are not concerned about giving a whole lot of personal information to their baristas.
It’s A Great Scene
People from all walks of life hang out in coffee shops. Artists, entrepreneurs, bankers, athletes – there is no telling who will walk through the door. As a barista, I’m in the middle of all of that. I get to hang out with the most interesting, coffee-loving people in Pittsburgh five days out of the week. I get a chance to really know them because they all love to share ideas or casually chat.
The Scene Ends Up Eating A Lot Of My Attention
Being in the middle of that scene can get a little overwhelming, especially when I’m trying to do my job. Chatting with these people and connecting with them helps me to connect them to other people in the area. It’s way more fun doing that than it is to do dishes or restock sugar. For some reason customers think it’s rude when I try to multitask. It can be difficult finding a balance.
The customers have a big role in making my job fun and satisfying. The connections I made from being a part of this scene are irreplaceable. The valuable and interesting lessons I have learned from working with these people will stay with me and help me for the rest of my life.