Let me start by saying working as a barista feels like something I was made to do and I would not take back a single moment of what I learned through the job. However, I think the field is somewhat romanticized and people get into coffee for the wrong reasons. I want to offer a little behind the scenes for those interested in starting their coffee careers!
P.S. I’ve worked at two local cafes so I’m not sure how these compare to larger corporations. 🙂
Training is INTENSE
- Most people think you just pump coffee into a cup and call it a day. This is far from the truth. You have to remember all of the recipes, learn the entire espresso machine, how to dial in and time your shots, all on top of customer service practices. The first shop I worked at trained people ranging from two weeks to a month because there really is that much to learn!
It is a fast-paced job
- With all this training comes working at a speed that is usually unexpected. My first shop had a drive thru and often you would not stop for hours. If there is no drive thru, things can feel a little slower, but you will always get a rush at some point in the day.
You will get yelled at
- Majority of people are incredibly kind, but some just are just having a rough day. A lot of people don’t realize how many other things we’re doing while also making their coffee, so it can get frustrating. However, you can rest assured that your favorite regular will walk in right after and turn everything around. 🙂
You must multi-task
- You have to be able to take an order, remember to brew more coffee, pour the tea that was steeping and maintain conversation at the same time. Of course you have your co-workers to help, but you will always have multiple tasks.
It is physically demanding
- Not only are you on your feet for the entirety of the day, but often you have to unpack the Sysco order or move the 5 lb bags of coffee to the back. Once I had to replace the cold brew canister by myself and had to stop every few feet because the thing was so heavy! It was probably quite comical to any bystanders.
It does not make you a “hipster”
- I saw far too many people get into coffee because they want to become the aesthetic. They love the dark, moody vibe, or can’t wait to wear their flannel every day. While yes, baristas seem to take on a similar aesthetic (often involving flannel), these people are truly individuals. I loved my co-workers because we were all such different personalities. We came into the job as individualists and learned from each other constantly. Just be you!
All this being said, becoming a barista changed my life in ways I never thought possible. I met some of my closest friends, became more outgoing and learned from some of the most fascinating customers. I encourage you to go for it, as long as you can take the good with the bad. Stay tuned for another post showcasing the BEST things about working in coffee!