Wednesday, July 8, 2015

This Barista's Manifesto

3 years of asking people the same questions over and over again: "What size would you like?  Would you like room for cream?  For here or to go?  How are you doing today?"  The last question is my favorite and possibly the most breezed through question of that whole list.  The answer to how our day is going is the most scripted answer; it often takes more forethought to think about how much cream I want in my coffee.  But that last question with the rare honest answer is why I have spent numerous hours standing on my feet in a black T-shirt emblazed with a cafe* logo.  *Cafe's actual name withheld to protect them from I don't know what...

My identity of barista is one I hold as a badge of honor.  The urge to blurt out I'm a barista when I'm at other coffee shops is quite often too difficult to rise above of.  That identity is shifting this next year; I'm looking forward to becoming a regular customer much like those who frequent my coffee shop.  They come for the same drink every day around the same time, bury their heads in their laptops or a book (or scurry off to work like crazy and return after an hour for a refill), and gradually we learn how to be caring acquaintances to each other.

As I step out of my role as a espresso tamper, milk steamer, and prone to hot water burns lady, I think it's time for me to collect some of my wisdom and musings as a barista.

This Barista's Manifesto.
1.  A minimum wage, customer service job NEEDS to be mandated.  For everyone. No exceptions.
2. I have a very strong feeling that customers find no greater satisfaction than when their baristas remember their drink order.
3. I spend half of my work day doing just that.
4. Dear Customer: I know that this espresso drink is your treatsie for this day.  I honor that and seriously take that into account when I am preparing it.  That latte/macchiato/chai/americano with 4 shots might take just a little longer for me to make, but it's only because I add this special dash of "giving a shit" about your drink (aka LOVE).
5. Customers genuinely asking how my day is going is what makes the crazy hectic days bearable.
6. Customers asking me how my day is going but interrupting my answer with an order.....err that's another thing entirely.
7. Please, please, PLEASE no phone calls while you are ordering at the register.
8. Macchiatos look like this:

9.  If you want that caramel sugary-ness pictured above, I am more than happy to prepare that--but it's just not a macchiato.
10.   Yea, those 5 AM alarms to work at 6 AM are really rough.  But it feels like an odd treasure to stroll around this gorgeous town that is still sleeping to a cafe where I can aide others in their wake-up schedules.  That delicious sunrise and crisp morning breeze (or fog, it is the Bay Area after all...) makes the early waking worth it.
11.  Thank you for the tip. I am so grateful for it.  You might be surprised how many people do not tip (or if you never tip your baristas, you'll be surprised by the sector of people that tip amazingly!).
12.  I can rattle off any regular's drink but I only know a few by their actual name.  So many of you customers have little nicknames "Soy chai guy," "Very smiley guy," and "The guy who made out with my coworker."
13. I have barista hands aka I can touch ridiculously hot things. It's kind of like a super power. :)
14. The concept of DREAM TEAM is vital and necessary. DREAM TEAM= a group or couple of individuals who work really well together (code for co-workers who make you laugh AND get the tasks done).
15.  You will always run into the cafe's customers.  My favorite memory of a customer encounter outside of work?
-A dance club in the SOMA district of San Francisco at 1am.
16. Chocolate syrup can, and will, get situated in the oddest of places on your body.  You might not find said smear of syrup until many hours after having left the coffee shop.
17. I adore this sticky, messy, creative job, and being a tiny part of each customer's day.