barista life Archives - I Hate Working In Retail





Science claims the best time of day to drink coffee is 10:30am, but what’s the worst time of day? Whenever your local coffee shop is staffed by the Condescending Coffee Snob.

But for every Condescender, there’s a handful of Small Talk Experts, Tip Flirts, and Lifers that make going to a coffee shop a beloved pastime for everyone from students who nurse one cup for five hours to lip-smacking espresso lovers. Keep reading to see the complete canon of coffee baristas, and if we missed any, be sure to leave us a tip in the comments section. Just like at a coffee shop, you’ll be rewarded with nods of appreciation and witty, semi-sexual banter.

The opener
Arrived at 6am to unlock the doors. Probably still has bits of sleep in their eyes and alcohol on their breath. Wide awake for 30 minutes at a time, followed by severe espresso crashes. Deserving of some slack.

The latte artist
Majored in art history. Double minored in conversations about philosophy and student debt. Takes great pride in his arsenal of four latte designs that all look identical. Dies a little each time a customer puts a lid on their drink without admiring his work.
The lifer
Subscribes to the philosophy of cleanliness is godliness. Feels uncomfortable when he doesn’t have a towel in his back pocket. Always smells like unrealized dreams coffee. Has thrown out literally thousands of unread alt-weeklies. Somehow makes more money than you. Sigh.
The girl next door
An asset to any coffee shop. Attractive even in her work shirt, genuinely friendly, and an expert at gracefully dodging sexual advances. Exponentially increases the tip-out of anyone working with her.
The tip flirt
Close cousin to the Girl Next Door. Always happy to see you. Laughs at things you say that you didn’t realize were jokes, mostly because they weren’t. Holds eye contact much longer than you can handle, until suddenly you’re tipping two bucks when all you bought was a cookie, and Jesus Christ, you need to leave now, because you just told her you liked her “mouth lips”.
The guy who’s genuinely interested in how your day is going
Friendliness that’s able to turn a bad day into a slightly less awful day. Sometimes you wonder if he’s friendly because you met him at a party and have forgotten his name. Maybe his name is Rick?
The guy who scowls at you for not tipping
Expert at building tension the moment you sign the credit card receipt. Has a detailed gradient of different thank yous depending on how much you tip. Feels he should earn more money than most entry-level scientists. Does NOT care how your day is going. Makes you miss Rick.
The tattoo guy
Has a mix of very detailed tattoos and super sloppy joke tats from “the early years”. Several are themed around the service industry. The ones on his neck and hands inspire awkward questions at job interviews. Once played in a third wave ska band that opened for Reel Big Fish in 2002. Don’t ask him about it.
The condescending coffee snob
Clenches fists under the counter in pure rage whenever a mocha is ordered. Will blatantly admonish patrons for asking for foamy cappuccinos. Don’t even get him started on decaf. Has trouble keeping roommates. Picks fights in the coffee subreddit. Has no idea that everyone hates him.
The guy who’s putting the moves on that nice girl who studies there all the time
She’s trying to get through a rough semester of bio-chem by mainlining chai between bites of wilted Spring Mix, and she doesn’t have time to date. He desperately tries to figure out a date idea that fits into her busy schedule, but she’s at the coffee shop more than he is. Still might ask her to go for a coffee.
The small talk expert
Has an uncanny ability to riff on just about anything you could possibly say to him. Is likely an English major who hasn’t written anything in awhile. Will eventually bring upLucky Peach.
The dude who hangs out at the shop after his shift
Believes that because the coffee shop has plentiful WiFi and free coffee, the only reason to go home is to shower. And maybe get new pants.
The educator
Did you know that coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world? And that these beans were fairly traded with an Ethiopian family who sometimes calls the owner of the store just to ask how his kids are doing? And that your espresso has hints of hazelnut, chocolate, and stone fruit? And that iced coffee is actually an iced toddy unless it’s Japanese iced coffee?
The owner
Either the happiest or the unhappiest person in the shop. Friendly when working the register. Hopelessly inept at making espresso drinks.
The barista who doesn’t care at all about coffee quality
Unconcerned that the drip coffee has been warming for six hours. Pronounces espresso with an X. The difference between their lattes and cappuccinos is mostly accidental. Has a tense relationship with Rick.
The ultra coffee nerd
Has competed in barista competitions. Uses an AeroPress at home. Is experienced enough to know when someone just wants a cup of coffee and not the weather report from the country in which it was grown. Occasionally measures the weight of espresso shots for precision. Is considering opening up a shop of their own. Wants to know how “Kickstarter works”.
The punk rocker
Wears at least one article of ripped clothing. Plays music that is very difficult to study to. Has piercings in awkward places. Strangely is on a first name basis with every straight-laced regular.
The guy more interested in picking music than making your coffee
Just downloaded Brian Eno’s 2003 ambient album Bell Studies for the Clock of the Long Now and is making the coffee shop sound like a historic Roman church whose hunchback has finally lost it. Encouraged by the one guy who always tips him a dollar on the way out for the “good tunes”, ignores the five people who leave based on his choices.
The guy who’s just there to promote his band and/or DJ set
There is a flyer somewhere within eyeshot that he can point to. Often leaves for weeks at a time on tour. Has probably dated a customer. Closely related to the guy who’s more interested in picking out music than making coffee.
The girl who really needs to be studying right now
Short on small talk, high on stress. Is muttering historical facts under her breath. Makes your coffee really, really fast.
The beardo
Health Department be damned, this guy refuses to shave his face-forest regardless of the fact that it’s essentially a lint-trap for coffee grounds.
The guy who dresses in all vintage clothing from before WWII
Thrift shops on his day off. Likes to talk about the classic novel he’s reading. He doesn’t really need those suspenders to hold up his pants.Rick
Ohhhh. Right. That’s Rick

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17 Signs You've Worked At Starbucks

The other day, my boyfriend Nick and I were in the middle of ordering our drinks at Starbucks when two or three different coffee timers started going off at at the same time behind the register. Our frazzled barista gasped, “Oh my gosh, just a second,” then sprinted back and forth between brewing machines, frantically trying to locate and reset the offending timers. Nick and I smiled sympathetically; we knew her plight all too well. “We both used to work at Starbucks,” I said, “so don’t worry, we understand!” When she had finally silenced the cacophony of urgent, high-pitched beeping, she leaned over the cash register and whispered, “When you worked here, did you ever hear that beeping … like … in your head?”

“YES,” we both answered immediately.

“It was like a ringing in my ears that never stopped,” said Nick.

“I had recurring nightmares about a coffee timer that had no reset button,” I said. “It just kept beeping for all eternity. I used to wake up in a cold sweat!”

You see, working at Starbucks, it changes you. Whether you love it or you hate it, you’re never quite the same after you don that famous green apron. The experience is equal parts educational, inspirational, and traumatizing, but one thing’s for sure: all Starbucks employees, past and present, share a very special bond. Here are a few surefire signs that you are one of us:

1. No matter where you work now, you still call all your coworkers “partners.”

2. Whenever you hear any kind of beeping (cell phone alarms, oven timers, etc), you freak out and try to rebrew coffee.

3. You have at least one burn scar on your body that, when people ask you how you got it, you just say, “Eggnog.”

4. You order all your Starbucks drinks the “right way.” And cringe when other people don’t.

5. You find yourself facing items and rearranging things so they look nice in the cold case while waiting in line.

6. You can’t help but judge people you meet based on their favorite Starbucks drink.

7. You tip really well. At all coffeeshops, but especially Sbux.

8. Your Starbucks order is still an obscure, super complicated drink you made up when you worked there.

9. …unless the store you go to is super busy, which means you order something basic, like a “tall coffee,” just to cut the barista on bar a break.

10. You can’t wear khaki pants or polo shirts without feeling like you’re going to work.

11. You always buy a pound of beans when Starbucks is doing a sales push. Not because you need or want them, but because you feel bad for the barista trying to reach their sales quota for the day.

12. You feel closer to the people you worked morning rush shifts with than you do with your own family.

13. Every time you go to the doctor, you half-expect to get the news that your lungs are coated in a thick layer of matcha powder and you only have 3 weeks to live.

14. No matter how long it’s been since you worked there, you still feel a little rebellious every time you paint your nails or dye your hair an “unnatural” color.

15. Howard Schultz is one of your father figures.

16. You’re secretly appalled when any of your subsequent jobs don’t offer full healthcare benefits and stock options.

17. You’ve still got a stained green apron crammed in the corner of your closet, because, for some reason, you just couldn’t bear to get rid of it.

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Ten Things Coffee Shop Workers Hate

I just want to start off by saying that these ten statements are in NO way insulting to any of the customers I’ve served. I love my job, my co-workers, and especially my customers, especially the regulars! Without all of my devoted customers I’d be out of a job. So again coffee shop customers, please do not take any of these personally. If it wasn’t for you guys I’d have nothing to talk about when I get home.

10. You throw your money at us and leave before we even open the register.

Not only does it make us feel like we’re not fast enough for you (which we do try to be!), but a lot of times customers end up accidentally not leaving enough money. QUICK FACT: Not all coffee shops (even if it’s the same chain like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts) have the same prices so don’t just assume.

9. You steal money from our tip jars because you don’t have enough money.

First of all, we get paid minimun wage for a pretty fast-paced, messy job. Those tips are our saviors! There what we work the hardest for. We deal with some of the longest coffee and sandwich orders possible but we smile through them for the extra dollar bill. Second of all, it’s just plain rude. How would you feel if we stole some of your paycheck? It’s pretty much the same thing. It’s money we worked hard for.

8. You complain about the prices.

As said before, not all coffee shops have the same prices so if one place has higher prices than another please don’t complain about it to the employees. Although we would like them to be changed just as much as you do, we unfortunately have no control over them. We just press a couple of buttons and hit subtotal.

7. You leave your trash at the front counter. 

Yes, it is our job to clean up after our customers but sometimes the place can be covered in coffee stained napkins and empty straw wrappers. We make sure that the trash receptacles are always clean, empty, and conveniently placed, so please use them. We would hate customers to think we serve food and coffe in a bacteria covered pig pen. Plus, you’d be surprised to how many clean freaks work at coffee shops.

6. You order coffee but forget to say iced.

Yes, we understand it happens. As employees, we forget your order every once and a while. But just so you know, if you order a coffee and don’t say iced we will give you hot coffee 99.9 percent of the time. Even if it’s summer time and it’s 98 degrees out, we will still give you hot coffee.

5. You make a mess in the bathroom.

Yes, we know it’s a public bathroom and you probably will only have to use it one time until we’re forced to clean it, but that’s no excuse to pee on the toilet seat. At the end of the day, some poor employee is going to be forced to clean up the toilet paper all over the floor and scrub the pee off the toilet seat so please, make their day a little easier by treating it as if it were your bathroom at home (minus sitting on the toilet seat, you might want to avoid that).

4. You complain about your coffee but won’t let us fix it. 

We hate it when people mess up our orders when we go out just as much as you do so if we do mess up your coffee, let us and know and let us fix it! I can’t tell you how many times customers have complained about their coffee but won’t let me re-make them. We don’t get in trouble for re-making a coffee because we messed up the coffee the first time so don’t think your causing us trouble. We want you to enjoy your coffee!

3. You’re on your cell phone while giving your order.

We love talking to our customers and we can’t do that while you’re on your cell phone. Believe it or not a lot of us truly do care about how you’re doing when we ask so give us the chance to ask. But if you really need to be on your cell phone at least say hello and goodbye.

2. You don’t believe us when we say that we really did give you decaf.

If we remember (which we almost always do) that you ordered decaf, we will give you decaf so please don’t ask us if it’s decaf a million times! We understand that some people can’t have any caffeine and we respect that. However, here’s a little secret. Although we will never give you regular if you order decaf, we might (like 0.05 percent of the time) give you decaf if you order regular. And trust me, we hate doing it.

1. You talk down to us because we are minimum-wage, fast-food workers.

We many not be doctors or firefighters but do make some awesome coffee and many times we’re the first person people see in the morning when they wake up for their coffee. So please, don’t talk down to us and don’t think we’re just fast food workers. Many of us are just trying to pay for school or need a part-time job to keep us busy. We respect every one of our workers so we’d appreciate it if you respect us back.

If you’re a coffee shop worker, send a comment of what you hate the most and I might just add it on to the list. Thank you!


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