Every morning, I would stop by a local coffee shop to grab an iced mocha before starting my day. Holidays would be the worse since coffee shops were closed. Because of this, I spent many hours watching videos on how to make iced mocha at home but couldn’t make one that tasted just right. I figured what better way to learn how to make coffee than by work at a coffee shop!
Looking for a Weekend Job
I wanted to find an easy weekend job that aligned with one of my hobbies. For a while, I was looking at golf courses so I could play rounds of golf for free. I did get an offer as a cart attendant but that meant having to be there before sunrise cleaning carts. I was also thinking of being a beverage cart attendant so I can learn how to make alcoholic beverages, which could be useful for hosting. However, having such an early schedule and being outside was one of the main reasons why I decided not to move forward with this.
I also have my nail technician and esthetician license, but I wanted to do something that I could benefit through employee benefits. Seeing that my top expense (other than rent, car, etc) was coffee, I decided to look into working at a coffee shop. What better way to learn how to make coffee at home, cut back on spending $6 a day, and get free coffee beans!
How I Started Working at the Coffee Shop
I applied to several specialty coffee shops, specifically the shops that I like their iced mocha. Just a week before Thanksgiving, I was hired as a barista at Cartel Roasting Co.! Thinking back to the interview makes me laugh because I was so uptight and professional, completely opposite from their hiring manager, ha.
In the past eight months, I’ve learned so much about coffee. From the different ways of processing beans, the taste, aroma and flavor from each origin, different levels of roasting and lastly, all the different brewing methods. Besides learning about coffee, I also got to practice pouring latte art.
Pouring latte art will be one of the things I’ll miss the most about being a barista. I don’t drink a lot of hot coffee so I won’t be able to practice latte art as much – plus, my espresso machine isn’t as nice as the coffee shop’s machine.
I initially joined Cartel Roasting Co. because I wanted to learn how to make coffee at home but have learned so much through the process that it has made leaving the coffee shop hard. In the words of Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” I’ve also gain new friends along the way and have enjoyed meeting people in different stages of their life.
Things I Learned from Being a Barista
To end this barista journey, I wanted to share some random things from being a barista. Things I liked and disliked, or random things I want to remember when I look back to this point of time in my life.
You’ll become a coffee snob
As much I don’t want to admit this, but I may or may not have become a coffee snob! I wouldn’t call myself a coffee connoisseur since my palate is still developing, but I do find myself questioning people’s judgement based on their coffee preference. Although… Who am I to judge! I drink iced mocha all the time and cappuccino occasionally, ha.
I also find myself being a coffee snob at other coffee shops that aren’t specialty coffee. You’ll be surprised how little some baristas know about the coffee beans they serve. I love that my time as a barista was at a specialty shop, but it does make me a bit arrogant, ha.
Pouring latte art
During my second shift at the coffee shop, we had a customer request art on their latte. I barely learned how to pull espresso shots, let alone practice latte art. Although it should be standard at specialty coffee shops, the other barista I was working with didn’t know how to pour latte art either. I remember being determined that I was going to learn how to pour latte art. Now, I can pour tulips consistently, but rosetta and swans are usually a hit or miss.
People can be very particular with their coffee
Don’t get me wrong, I am also very particular with my coffee and so is my dad. While it’s a bit frustrating being on the barista side, sometimes I just have to remind myself that I am also that way. Luckily, I haven’t seen any crazy requests, but I’ve had to redo several drinks because I didn’t make their drink right.
Every coffee shop operates differently
I had the opportunity to work at six different locations in the past eight months. It’s so fun learning how each coffee shop operates and all the different equipment they use. Because each shop operates differently, I do feel like a nuisance whenever I ask my coworkers how to use basic things.
It’s so interesting to see what works and what doesn’t at each location!
Establishing workflow is so important
Going off on my previous point, because each coffee shop operates differently, it doesn’t mean the workflow will be the same in each store. I found that for me, having the discussion “how do you like to work?” or “what’s your preferred workflow?” early on can save a lot of frustration and confusion with my coworkers throughout the shift.
Working at a coffee shop can be very humbling
Because I have a full-time corporate job, I forget what it’s like to be on the bottom of the pyramid. Sometimes I have to remember where I am and where I stand. I am just a barista at the coffee shop. Nothing more and nothing less.
Baristas are baristas for many different reasons
Some people are high school or college students. Some people have dreams of opening their own coffee shop someday. Others love the flexibility of working at a coffee shop. Before this job, I assumed baristas were mostly students, but I’ve met people who are passionate about coffee and that gets me so excited!
Going on a date with a regular
Oh boy. We had a not-very-regular regular come in every now and then, and we would engage in small talk. We ended up going out to dinner and that was the end of it. I never heard or seen him since then. Ghosting at its finest!
I do think it’s rude to ghost, especially if there were mentions about a second date. Oh well. To each their own.
Having great coworkers makes a world of a difference when it comes to working at the coffee shop
It really is. Having a coworker that you enjoy talking to makes the shifts go by so quickly. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know all my coworkers and making those friendships.
I’m sad to be leaving, but I feel like I’ve learned as much as I can from a barista standpoint. While it does make me sad, it was time for me to learn something new. I’m so excited to be sharing what I’ll be doing next in my free time so stay tuned for that!