Posts Tagged ‘ coffee ’

Starbucks

I feel like I need to clarify my opinions about Starbucks, since I’ve had two people in the last two weeks say something along the lines of “Will you hate me if I get a job at Starbucks?”

The answer to that question is a resounding no.

Of course not!

I will feel very sorry for you, though, for a lot of reasons.

Starbucks has a massive menu that you have to memorize.

Starbucks customers don’t know what the heck they want out of life or their coffee, so they take forever to order and make ridiculous demands.

Starbucks is the McDonalds of the specialty beverage world.

So heck no I won’t hate you for working at ‘bucks any more than I’d hate you for working at McD’s, or Burger King, or any other fast food joint. I’ll make fun of you, obviously. But I probably do that anyway.

I don’t hate Starbucks any more than I hate the diner that gave me a terrible cup of coffee a few weeks ago.

I think their products are bad. I think their customer service makes my life as a real barista much more difficult (the whole “you can have anything you can imagine because you’re always right” attitude is really awful to deal with.)

But I don’t waste my energy hating a corporation. I choose not to patronize them because their product is no good.

But no hate.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I feel about Starbucks.

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Things your Barista is Not.

It has come to my attention that the general public is not quite sure what is in my job description as a barista. To help you, I have compiled this list of Things that Your Barista is Not.

Latte art

Your Barista is Not a Psychic.

You, the customer, must tell me, the barista, what you want. Staring at me as you hold your money out is insufficient. So is telling your friend what you want as you walk into my cafe. Throwing your money on the counter and mumbling “the usual” will not get you what you want if we have never seen each other before.  Expecting me to read your mind will simply result in an awkward conversation and annoyance arising between us.

I might joke about how I went to wizarding school to learn latte art, but reading your mind just wasn’t a part of the training. Sorry. (Not really.)

Your Barista is Not Your Therapist.

Honestly, you can talk to me. We can joke around and be friends, and maybe even have real proper conversations every once in a while. But the moment I start to feel like your therapist is the moment I tune you out, and if it’s ongoing I will probably complain about you later to my fellow coffee people (who are also not your therapist.) I understand if you’re unhappy because of a death in the family, a failing marriage, an argument, or whatever, but really, I don’t get paid enough to be your therapist. Let the coffee be your therapy.

Your Coffee Shop is Not a Dating Service.

Any barista who’s been playing the game for a while can sense the stench of desperation from across the cafe. Feeble attempts like five dollar bill hearts as a tip, “We should text sometime,” or using Harry Potter as a point of mutual interest– all true stories– These might be fine strategies in a normal context (not that I recommend giving five dollar bill hearts to anyone ever,) but in the cafe context they’re just pathetic and inappropriate.

When I’m at work, I’m not on the prowl. That’s all. My job might be more fun than yours, but I’m still getting paid minimum wage plus tips to even talk to you right now, and if you’re the kind of person who’s going to hit on your baristas, I’d never talk to you outside of when I’m getting paid. Please keep that in mind.

Myself, when/if I find you, a customer, an interesting enough person that I want to spend time with you in a normal, outside-of-work context, I will let you know.

Your Barista IS a Fellow Human Being.

As a fellow human being, your baristas deserve the simple courtesy of eye contact and a greeting. I don’t demand conversation, friendliness, joking, or whatever. But it is not that difficult for you to be moderately polite, and it improves my day immensely.

And if you tip, well, now we’re friends.

Things I learned in 2012.

When I was drafting this blog, I was laughing internally because in comparison, the one I wrote for 2011 was so short. It amuses me that 2011 felt like I grew so much, but 2012 was so much more.

So because this list is so long, I’m going to subdivide it into months.

January

  • Saying goodbye isn’t the hardest thing– living without is.
  • Moving to the Willamette valley in January is a terrible idea. It’s the crappiest weather of the year.

Feburary

  • Crappy jobs still pay rent.
  • Rich people aren’t good tippers. Actually, rich people are the worst tippers.
  • Getting thoroughly lost can be the best way to learn about a city’s geography.

March

  • Sometimes the only way to stay sane is to tune out.
  • If you’re willing to be surprised, a good friend can come from anywhere.

April

  • Unemployment is only scary when it stops feeling like a vacation.
  • Twenty is a surprisingly bummer age to turn. Suddenly adulthood feels like a burden

May

  • Aim high, be prepared to score low, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

June

  • Summer in Portland is perfect. 
  • Living in a main street in Portland during the summer… Not so much.

July

  • Nothing is certain, not even your life.
  • Getting prodded by medical folk gets easier the more it happens. Same with throwing up.
  • Dulaudid is one hell of a drug.
  • Recovery is the hardest part– waiting and wanting to be back to normal, but still sick.
  • In spite of the soap opera-y parts, Friends is an awesome show.
  • Staying hydrated is so much more important than I ever thought. Drink water, people!

August

  • Bicycling through Portland at night in the summer is amazing.
  • Doctor Who is one of the best TV shows of ALL TIME.
  • Life goes back to normal really easily, even when you’re changed forever and there’s constant turmoil in your brain.

September

  • Empathy is not a strong trait of mine, except where my sisters are concerned.
  • Every wedding should have dancing. (and dancers.)

October

  • Important decisions can be delayed.
  • I’m freaking awesome at parallel parking.

November

  • People who skype in coffee shops make me nervous.
  • Shutting up and listening is important.

December

  • Feeling rich is still a major fault of mine.
  • Handmade Christmas presents are the best!
  • Distance hasn’t made me love Central Oregon and my people there any less, and time hasn’t made me miss them any less.
  • Even though 2012 was a really tough year, it was a really good year– and it was really important.

And yeah… Fart jokes are still funny.

With that said, I’m really looking forward to what 2013 will hold. I’m making plans to intentionally make it the best year ever.

Cheers!

How to Get your Baristas to Like You: Abridged Edition

Step One: Be respectful.

Step Two: Be kind.

Step Three: Don’t be a douche.

Step Four: Tip.

Step Five: Don’t order a dry cappuccino.

Just Say No.

Okay, this may be a surprise to you, but I really try not to complain too much on this blog. Obviously I’m not too successful, but I try to keep the tone here funny and/or thoughtful, not just random whining.

Just know that I try.

Today, though,  I just have to complain a little.

Everyone who makes out in coffee shops should be smacked.

Harsh, right? No. Not harsh. That’s what I call justice, kids. Batman style.

First of all, people who make out in coffee shops should be smacked because nobody wants to see that. If you’re too young to be making out in bars, old enough to be wanting to get all smoochy, but still not old enough to have learned that PDAs are the opposite of cool and nobody wants your sloppy kisses all up in their business, you need to be smacked.

Next, people who make out in coffee shops should be smacked because why do you enjoy having an unwilling audience? It seems like your makeouts would be much more enjoyable in the privacy of home, car, forest, closet, or tall stacks of books.

Also, people who make out in coffee shops should be smacked because coffee breath is gross. Unless you enjoy that sort of thing, in which case you should still be smacked because what if your partner doesn’t like it and the people the next table over probably don’t like it either.

Finally, people who make out in coffee shops should be smacked because of kissy sounds. Even worse than being subjected to the sight of two people exchanging sloppy kisses is being subjected to the sound of aforementioned sloppy kisses.

If your affections are just so unbearable that they have to overflow into smooches over a cup of coffee, you should just have coffee in your house where your fellow coffee drinkers won’t be made nervous, and your barista won’t be filled with the desire to exact a Batman-like ninja justice and smack you.

Service

Since I work in the service industry, I think a lot about customer service. Recently there was an article in Roast Magazine about customer service– I read it expecting a suave article full of tips and tricks, but what it boiled down to was very basic stuff that I learned in my first and second service-based jobs. It seemed too simple for Roast.

So I’ve been mulling over my personal philosophy on customer service. You’ve all heard that the customer is always right? I disagree. The customer may not always be right, but their needs always come first.

That, of course, applies to paying customers. If someone comes in, sits down, and comes back to me whining that the internet doesn’t work when they haven’t bought anything, my level of caring is at about zero percent.

In particular, a lot of baristas get into a rut of thinking that customers are idiots, because they aren’t trained in coffee. While this may be right in some cases (oh, the stories I could tell you,) it doesn’t make it okay to treat paying customers like they’re dumb. They just haven’t learned things yet, and you have the opportunity to teach them. I touched on this in a blog several months ago, and I stand by what I said then. Baristas, don’t condescend, and customers, don’t be rude.

However, there is one thing I feel like you all need to know about my job. When I greet a customer, I set a pleasant tone to the conversation. You, with your response, then set the tone for the entire interaction. If you’re rude to me after I’ve been nice to you, it’s going to be very, very difficult for me to be any more than polite.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about today. Hope you all had great Thanksgivings!

Now.

So, as you might already know, this summer I had a too-close-for-comfort brush with death.

Although I’ve made a full recovery physically, the emotional turmoil has been the worst part.

For a while I was somewhat paralyzed by fear– every time I had a twinge in my back, my overactive imagination would put me right back in the hospital, delirious from dehydration. Over the months, the fear has subsided, but there is still a constant thought running through my head. I could die tomorrow.

This theme has been strengthened and pounded into my brain by a number of things in addition to my own health scare. Two of my friends are battling cancer right now, both for a second time. A barista in Gresham was randomly murdered.

Life is tenuous.

I’ve realized how important it is to live right now. I have a really bad habit of putting off things I know I’ll enjoy because I’d rather not put in the effort. I’ll do it later, or tomorrow, because I’d rather just curl up on my couch and watch TV shows than get dressed and go out into the real world.

Since I realized this habit of mine, I’ve been thinking about the scope of my life. If I died tomorrow, would people have any good stories to tell about me? I don’t need to be remembered for long, but I do want to be missed. No one is going to miss a creepy girl who spends hours on Facebook every day while watching Netflix and serving coffee to pay rent.

Each morning, I ask myself how I want the day to look. If I want to have good stories to tell about the day, I have to make things happen myself.

If I died tomorrow, would people say that I lived life to the fullest in my short time, or would they shake their heads and sigh about a wasted life?

Life is short. Each day is valuable. I intend to use the full value of each day that is granted me by living in the now, and living more every day.

 

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