Every morning I wake up at 5 AM. It is a hideous hour, an ungodly time of the day where even most animals are still sleeping, and one in which I will wake up at what I believe is the middle of the night and really turns out to be 4:57 AM. While this hour is gross and I am never officially awake until 6, my motivation for making it out of bed comes with the fact that I love my full-time job to pieces.
That, and said job is also located across the street from a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, AKA my life force.
Coffee Bean is one of the greatest chain coffee shops I have ever had the pleasure of being inside. They sell a variety of coffees and teas and juice and tasty baked goods. Every week, I spend about $10 in that cozy little nook of a store, where the java beans are richly scented and should you decide to stay in with your latte, you get it served up in a mug. I often feel like the store is hugging me when I go inside, as though it’s saying in the most soothing and dulcet of tones, “Welcome back, Heather. Welcome home.”
If you drink coffee as religiously as I do, chances are you’ve heard that voice, too. Isn’t it the best?
When I was in high school, I was a barista at Panera Bread. At any given moment, scattered throughout our store I had at least 3 or 4 iced brews hiding in strategic places to keep me rip roaring and ready to go. Because working there was one huge stress attack after another. People would pour in the door starting at 5 AM and would not stop until 11am. After that would come the lunch crowd, which was a whole cluster of issues into itself. It is my belief that the barista is one of the least-appreciated working stiffs on the planet. We made the coffee, the life force that would get you through the morning, but it was never done just right. The lattes and capps were never hot enough or they needed to be “hot but not hot” (my favorite!) – and God help you if you did not use skim milk or add that double shot of espresso. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to drop everything and throw my apron at the customer and scream “YOU make it then!” I used to have extremely vivid dreams about that, actually – the kind where you wake up all sweaty and wide-eyed.
I’m on the other side of the counter now, the customer side, and I am a patient and appreciative coffee consumer. Watching the baristas at the Coffee Bean across the street from my job work their magic is truly a sight to see. I cannot be sure of this, but in my White Chocolate Latte, the secret ingredient is probably crack. I’m like, 87% sure (growing all the more closer to 100% every day). They just call it ‘love’ to throw the rest of us off. How else do you explain a drink so delicious that I finish it in under an hour and want to run back for more??
There’s such a community at Coffee Bean, one that I haven’t found in any other coffee shop juggernaut. People there are so friendly! They hold the door open for you, they ask you what you do for a living, they’re interested and it’s genuine. One time I was there when they had a hot guy from their Malibu store subbing for the day. It was beautiful. I was adrift on a caffeinated cloud to a point of bliss where you feel love and goodness at all times. Never gonna quit you, Coffee Bean, no not ever.
Everything’s coffee and nothing hurts.