Posts Tagged ‘ work ’

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


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


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


  • 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!


  • 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.


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


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


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


  • 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.


Why Cover Letters are Awkward.

I think I’m funny. Today I’m blogging early because I’m procrastinating on writing cover letters.

Getting one job done while procrastinating on the other is something  I’m an expert at.

Unfortunately, I find cover letters (and job interviews for that matter) to be rather awkward. What you basically have to say is, “I’m awesome, and here are the reasons you should hire me,” and with all my confidence and finesse I still find it difficult to write or say those things without sounding insufferably egocentric.

Job hunting is something I’ve always despised, and it only gets harder the older I get.

For some reason when I was fifteen, going to places and being like “Hire me!” was a lot simpler. I didn’t have to write cover letters– Heck, I didn’t even have a resume put together. Somehow, suddenly, I landed a job at a candy store. Go me, right?

But now I’m twenty and I want a real proper job. Suddenly I want more than minimum wage, and suddenly it takes work to acquire work.

Being a grown up person is full of lamesauce and fail.

I feel sad that I am struggling with writing a cover letter when words are supposed to be my specialty. Just last week I was exulting in my newfound ability to make people react to my writing how I wanted them to react, so I guess I just need to communicate that superpower into my cover letters, like a Jedi Mind trick.

Still, it’d be a lot easier and a lot less awkward if I could use the Force to make potential employers understand why they should hire me.

How to get your Baristas to Like You

So, I have long been opposed to the idea of this blog being a place where I only ever rant and complain about creepy/annoying/stupid people. That’s why I’m writing this today.

Inspired by some awesome regulars at the coffee shops I’ve worked at, here is a list of Dos and Don’ts in your coffee shop of choice to earn the respect and appreciation of your baristas.

A dollar in the tip jar goes a long way. You don’t even have to tip every time– it’s not something I absolutely expect. But if s/he does particularly well on your drink, is dealing with a rush, or did a good job in any other way, a tip is a great start.

When you come up to the counter and say “the usual,” it doesn’t make me think you’re cool. It just makes an awkward moment if/when I don’t know your drink. However, if you come up to the front and say, “How’s your day going?” even if you only partially mean it, that makes me think you’re cool.

If I’m not too busy, engaging me in conversation whilst I craft your drink also goes a very long way toward getting me to like you, but don’t be too offended or surprised when I can’t hear you over the grinder or the milk. It’s the effort that counts! Unless you’re being creepy. Don’t be creepy.

Remembering your baristas’ names also goes a long way. Think of it like this– I can often remember your name, and you’re one of several dozen regulars whose names AND drinks I know. I’m one of three or four baristas at this shop, so remembering our names isn’t really that big of a job. And honestly, I can forgive so many orders without a tip if you greet me by my name (which is Bethany, by the way. Not Beth.)

Treat your baristas like you’d like to be treated– a.k.a., not like I’m a coffee vending machine. This job takes more training, skill, and art than you know.

I get that you’re in a hurry, I really do, but hovering doesn’t speed me up. I’m fast, and I need at least a minute per drink– and that’s just for a latte. The more complicated your drink is, the longer it takes me. I really appreciate customers who order an americano or house coffee when they’re in a hurry, especially if that’s not their usual drink. If you really need your peppermint-white-mocha-with-whip in the morning though, please give yourself at least five to ten minutes to get it. We’ll both be less stressed. (And I hope you enjoy the sugar crash.)

If you notice that I’m closing up, please be courteous and leave at closing time. I don’t mind you staying right to the time I turn off the open sign, but it’s really nice when customers take that as a cue to bow out.

If you like or dislike the music I have on, let me know. I usually choose whatever I feel like listening to, but baristas like customers who give constructive feedback– so if you hate Louis Armstrong (which I think is impossible,) or Bob Dylan, (also nigh impossible, but whatever,) please let me know.

The best mood boosts I’ve ever had at work are when customers come back to the counter to put a tip in the jar before they leave. It indicates to me that I really did do well on your drink. Tips beforehand are really nice, don’t get me wrong, but they really don’t indicate whether or not I’ve done a good job. Again, lots of constructive feedback!

Hopefully, this little guide helps you understand why your baristas like or dislike you– and if you’re one of my darling regulars who inspired this blog, I like you a lot.

Oh, and please, for the love of Coffee, don’t come in and tell me how Starbucks does things.

So, fellow baristas, any other things that customers do that you love/hate?

In Which Bethany makes Excuses for a Late Post.

Ack! This post is a day behind schedule!

At least I have a very proper excuse. I spent the weekend at home in Redmond, Oregon, and yesterday I was at my sister’s house without a computer. I hereby absolve myself.

The weekend was highly enjoyable. On Saturday I went to Smith Rock— a highly well-known climbing and hiking destination only fifteen minutes from my parents’ home. My family, our friend Hadley, and I hiked up Misery Ridge and down the back by Monkey Face.

Misery Ridge is a serious misnomer. This is Hadley and I at the top.

And after we hiked to what was technically the top of the trail, Rachel, Hadley, and I scrambled up all the rocks to the very tip top of the accessible rock (since any higher peaks were only accessible with aid of ropes, belay devices, and other miscellaneous outdoor climbing gear.)

Those arms are mine. Just so ya know.

Then scrambling down the back, I found a rock upon which to strike a very strong and heroic pose.

Don't I look like I could save the day, guys? ... guys?

And then, all of a sudden, it was Sunday, and it was time to go home… From this– 

To this–

I’m not going to lie to you; as much as I love the rugged desert beauty of Central Oregon, and as much as I always will, it’s nice to be back in the damp, chilly, crappy-weather Portland, where spring is already nigh.

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