My time as a barista has been a double edged sword. For 6 and a half years I was serving coffee to customers. Five years of my time was spent at a Starbucks. One year at an independent cafe, and half a year spent at at a local coffee roaster. Those are my credentials for what I’m about to explain. For the majority of the time, I hated customer interaction, but I loved brewing coffee. I enjoyed the hissing of the steam wand. I adored the aroma of freshly brewed espresso coming out from the portafilter.
I miss the bloom of every Chemex I prepared. But nothing will ever convince me to go back and deal with customers. The rudeness I encountered on a daily basis outweighs the fulfilling task of being a barista. Here’s a tip: not every customer is right. They may have an idea of what they want, but they oftentimes don’t have a clue as to how to put those ideas into words. They proceed to tell you why they’re right (most of the time) and why you’re wrong. Okay, okay, okay, venting aside I did really enjoy being a barista. I enjoyed the small conversations between drinks. Educating customers on the difference between what washed processed, and honey processed was. I adored crafting each beverage from the grind, the brew, to the final pour. I was into coffee. I dressed like a hipster, too. I went to coffee conventions and espresso competitions.
I seriously considered having a life career in coffee. Then money became a thing, and it sucks to say it, but being a barista does not pay well. Womp, womp, womp. I still enjoy home brewing though. Over the years I’ve collected a Chemex, a Kalita, an Aeropress, a semi-automatic espresso machine, a fully automatic espresso machine, 2 grinders, and filters galore. I enjoy the time I have with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Picking out each note, weighing the viscosity of the brew on my tongue. Comparing notes between two or three bean varietals from the same region. To me, it’s fascinating, almost therapeutic. For a young person in college just needing some extra cash and a great skill to learn, be a barista. You learn a lot. A lot.
Written By: Johnathon S. Newman