10 valuable lessons I learned working as a Starbucks barista

I knew from sitting in a coffee shop, sipping my latte and observing those working around me, that I wanted to be a barista.  I’m passionate about coffee and I wanted a job. Perfect fit, right? Now, after nearly two years of working as a barista, I’ve learned a lot from the gig, and a lot more than just latte art. (Though I learned that too.) Here are some of the lessons that I’ve picked up from two years working as a barista.

1. Baristas can get a little too addicted to latte art.

A little foamy cat in your cappuccino?! Yes please. We spend hour upon hour perfecting those tiny ears and them cute dinky little whiskers… and when it’s completed to perfection, we plaster it all over social media. You got nothing on me Leonardo Da Vinci #soproud

2. British coffee drinkers envy the US Starbucks menu

Where I work in England, the options are a lot more limited. Give us all of your Tiramisu Lattes, Caramel Flan Lattes, Green Tea Lattes… Coconut milk? We’d go crazy for it. Don’t take it for granted, guys. Seriously. I mean it.

3. Christmas music on loop is torturous

We hear it when we’re going to sleep. We hear it when we wake up. However, I’ve found myself singing dramatically to Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ with a sharpie microphone in hand many, many times. Let’s face it, baristas are passionate people.

4. Our nails, clothes and hair end up saturated in a combination of coffee/syrup/dried milk

Let’s just say, the backlash from drink making makes us less than photo shoot ready (or smelling) at the end of each shift. However, on the bright side, it acts as an excellent repellent. Want to avoid an awkward hug? The coffee shop smell has got your back.

5. We love to get complimented on our coffee skills

It takes a pretty darn long time to learn how to perfectly steam milk and memorize different beverage recipes. We know we’ve made someone’s day a little better and love how our time and effort is being greatly appreciated when someone drops a “that’s delicious!” our way. Our hard work has majorly paid off.

6. Serving a customer who’s on the phone isn’t fun

It’s hard to tell what you’re ordering if you’re talking on the phone at the same time. Hi! Hi! I’m over here.

7. We squeal every time Taylor Swift sings “all the lonely Starbucks lovers”

Ok, maybe the actual lyrics to blank space are “got a long list of ex-lovers.” But I’m telling you that the misheard version is way better. It goes without saying that all the lonely Starbucks lovers will tell you Taylor is insane. She has a blank space, baby. And she’ll write your name (on your triple shot vanilla latte cup, spelt T-A-Y-L-O-R).

8. If your friend tells you they “don’t like coffee,” it’s time for a serious talk

We just can’t comprehend how the liquid form of heaven isn’t as worshipped by others.

9. “I want a coffee, please” sadly doesn’t suffice at the cash register.

I’m afraid there’s way too many different possibilities which arise from just asking simply for a “coffee.” We’ll reply with: “Is that a filter coffee? Americano? Cappuccino? Latte? With sugar or milk? What size? To go or to stay? With whipped cream?” You see the problem. Be specific!

10. We love our regulars! They make us better at small talk. 

Get to know us! We promise, under our coffee coated exterior, we’re lovely. I’ve met so many authentic, interesting people working as a barista. Stephen Hawking even managed to pop in one day for a mocha! Chatting with you guys greatly help us improve our social skills. Before Barista life, I was an introvert incapable of small talk, now I’m a master of small talk. It’s been a hugely beneficial job, and not just for the paychecks.

Alice Stringer is a student from the UK studying English, coffee and the fine art of eating dessert. Fully prepared for a zombie apocalypse, she dreams of living in San Francisco and becoming a crazy pug lady.