Barista Archives - I Hate Working In Retail


The 11 People Who Work At Every Starbucks

I’ve worked at several Starbucks stores. The same people work at all of them.

The Perpetual Community College Student
The PCCS works the closing shift. He drives a Toyota pickup. He goes to school part-time and works full-time to pay for the classes. He has too much homework, but always seems to have time to hang out on the patio after closing. He hasn’t declared a major. He’ll transfer to a local state school in four years or drop out.

The Young Mom
This chick is probably younger than you. She is always willing to pick up a shift if you need coverage, but you feel a little guilty taking her up on the offer. Her mom watches her kid while she’s working the morning shift so she can get home by noon. She waits for her ride outside with a Frappuccino.

The Stoner
He’s always too broke to buy lunch, but has enough money to get stoned on Saturdays. He’s an artist, but you never see any of his art. He hitches rides from friends and coworkers. When he has money, he moves in with the Musician. When he’s broke, it’s back to mom’s house. More than likely he has a second retail job at the mall or Target.

The Unmarried Dad
He’s the only one wearing shorts at work. He always seems a little on edge. He probably had a real job before working here. He’s the only one besides the Manager driving a car built in the last five years. The Assistant Manager probably has a thing for him, but it’ll never come to anything.

The Bi-Curious Gym Rat
She has a fan club of men and women who come in just to flirt with her, but she won’t settle on any one. About half of the males and at least one of the females on staff has a crush on her. She’s a free spirit and listens to indie bands. She spends her days off getting tan at the beach or snowboarding in the mountains. She’s got a Jeep, but she’s thinking of trading it in for a motorcycle. You want to hate her because you’re jealous, but you can’t because she’s so damn cool.

The Super Happy Teen
She’s got crazy hair, either in style or color. Her smile is infectious. The old people that come in love her to pieces and she brings in tons of tips when she’s on register. She’s probably religious and has a steady boyfriend she went to high school with. She gets along with her parents, especially her dad, and they’re helping her get through college. For her 16th birthday they bought her a used, sensible car and she still drives it.

The LGBT Barista
This person gets away with wearing canvas Converse on the floor instead of the ugly restaurant shoes. A favorite with all the college girls that come in, and makes a tasty soy chai. Best conversationalist. Probably vegetarian. Has a dog and lives with the Bi-Curious Gym Rat.

The Musician
This guy is pushing 30 but acts like he’s 18. He plays a regular gig at the dive bar downtown. One of his songs was on a local college station. When not working with you, he’s waiting tables or bartending—anywhere he can flirt for more tips. He makes comments about the hot regulars. He hangs out with the Stoner most weekends because of their mutual interests. He calls in “sick” but really he’s just hung over.

The Manager
If you’re lucky you get a manager that understands that people have other stuff going on in their lives and that increasing retail sales is not one of their top priorities. She puts out a fair schedule, pays you the right amount, and never stiffs you on labor. If you’re unlucky, she’ll spend all day in the back room doing paperwork and not helping you out when there’s a rush. If you’re really unlucky, she’ll get promoted to district manager.

The Assistant Manager
Poor, poor assistant manager. Your crew and your manager have life in balance. Then corporate tells you you’re training an assistant manager. She comes in with big dreams of making changes to your store and messing up everything. You’re not a fan. She drives a minivan and has to be off by 3 to pick up the kids. She’s the Yoko to your Beatles. The evil stepmother to your Cinderella. But balance returns when she’s shipped off to manage her own store, thank god.

The Overworked Shift Supervisor
Takes his job too seriously. Probably going to school full-time, but took on the job as shift supervisor for the experience and the bump in pay. Fears getting fired, but wants to throw in the apron almost every day. You like him because he gets you out on time. You hate him because he’s bossy. He drives a Subaru and lives with other college friends, but can just barely afford it all. Secretly dating one of the baristas, but everyone totally b

Sourced from


We Are the 20%: What Tips Mean to Servers, Bartenders, Doormen, and Baristas

 In this week’s issue of New York, Adam Platt tried (unsuccessfully) to go gratuity-free, as he wondered if it were time to topple the institution of tipping. Here we talk to some of the estimated 20 percent of workers who rely on tips — bartenders, servers, doormen, and baristas — about the difference gratuities make to them, why you should tip for coffee, and how they work their customers.

You’re Welcome: What a Tip Looks Like to Servers

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Ryan Viramontes, 22 (left)
Bareburger Chelsea
$125 in tips per shift

Tips are our entire wages, really. If someone doesn’t tip at all, we’re working for free. Customers don’t realize quite how far it goes sometimes. All the restaurants I’ve worked at, you can’t talk to the guests about the tip. It’s so weird that it’s something we do depend on and it’s treated like a little secret gift. It’s the worst when you have a table that you’ve been laughing and joking with and get nothing in return. Super-nice people with a 15 percent tip, it’s like, whatever. We’re aiming for 20 percent.

Senami d’Almeida, 37 (center)
The Little Owl
$300 to $400 in tips per shift

In August and certain holidays, New York clears out, so you notice the change in your income. I have had nine-to-five jobs where you make a good living, and it’s bored me to tears. If they said, ‘We’re going to make you salaried and you would make what you make now,’ I would consider that. But there’s no way you would make as much.

Jane Muller, 47 (right)
$80 to $200 in tips per shift

Getting tips is an art. A lot of that is making them laugh once or twice. I have sort of a New York sense of humor. When it’s obvious that you are understaffed, you get great tips. When I was pregnant, forget it! I got the best tips.

The Diner Waitress
Your server is most definitely judging you.

Donna Lillis, 56
Kellogg’s Diner
$300 in tips per shift

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Being a waitress is like being a psychiatrist. You have to treat every table differently. Most people ask me to recommend, and I never just straight sell the most expensive item. I ask them what they want, what they are in the mood for, and slowly guide them from there. Don’t jump right to it. You have to work it. I watch for the leader—that’s the one who is paying the check, and I’m always right. I’m using reverse psychology. You go for jaws: That’s the big one. That’s the one who has the money. He’s usually the loudest. I focus on them, but they don’t even know that I’m pinning them down, that’s how dumb they are. I love men, but they are so fucking stupid. I use my looks, but then I also use my mouth. I’m a well-dressed, clean woman who looks nice but also has good vocab, so they can’t figure out what the fuck is going on.

With tourists, I ask where they are from right away. The French are the fucking worst. I say, “Listen, I want to let you know”—I look at everyone at the table, because eye contact is very important—and I say, “Listen, guys, you have to know this is how it goes.” I tell them the tip’s not included.

I work hard dealing with kids. They make a mess. They rip up the sugar packets. Terrible. But when someone sees you catering to a child, they will tip well. I make fantastic money with the families.

I recently served a sweet young couple. They had rings in their noses, real Mohawks. I was wonderful to them, and then I go over and see that they didn’t leave anything! It was a $75 check. Oh, no way. I go outside and say, “Excuse me, guys, I saw what you left. Was my service bad? I’m so sorry!” I say all this bullshit but what I’m thinking is, “Why didn’t you tip me, motherfuckers?” He said he didn’t know. I said, “That’s okay, I’m letting you know for the future.” But he gave me $50 out of his pocket. If you don’t tip me, I will go after you, and I will get it. I know who has and who hasn’t got money. I said, “You two are very sweet, your parents did a wonderful job.” That’s my line. See, a lot of yuppies—I call them “money”—I make them laugh. I like these kids, and I get the rapport back, I think, because they don’t get it from their mother. They give me a $20 or $15 tip for a $20 check.

Someone left me 35 cents. I was watching, and as he got up, I say, “You forgot your change; you need this more than I do. Have a great day.” What the fuck am I gonna do with 35 cents? Get the fuck out of here, and that was on a $30 check. You make me feel like an asshole, I’ll make you look like a triple asshole. The ones with the ‘Wall Street Journal’ under their arms, I call them the martini guys. They are the ones who give you 35 cents. Don’t tip me at all if you are gonna leave change.

The Doorman on What He Expects
Angel Morales, 54
Biggest tip: $350

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

I know who doesn’t tip at the holidays. We distribute the cards on the door of each unit on December 12, and through New Year’s I total what we got and what apartment gave me more. Some other doormen are nicer during the holiday season because they want the tips, but the tenants know who does their job all year round. Sometimes I get things other than money: gift cards, bottles of wine. One woman once gave me a box of socks she had designed. The smallest tip I ever got? Two dollars. It was from a little old lady and she gave me $2 in an envelope. Her writing was so shaky it was like she was in an earthquake. You look at her walking and you are like, I don’t know how she does it. I didn’t mind that she was a $2 tipper.

Baristas on Why You Should Tip for Coffee

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Gregg Butler, 23 (left)
Joe Grand Central
Tips undisclosed

If someone gets a regular coffee, they think that they don’t need to tip. I think there’s an understanding that if you get a complicated coffee you need to tip. We have two separate tip jars; sometimes people will tip right after they order and pay, and then sometimes they will tip when they see the drink and it looks beautiful. Music plays a big role in tips, oddly. Slow, sad music isn’t going to get you good tips. The only time I get annoyed is when people order coffee for their entire office and don’t tip. I’m making six large almond cappuccinos and it’s like, “Ugh.” If you are sending an intern to get your coffee, give them tip money.

Ariel Pang, 22 (right)
Van Leeuwen, East Village
$30 to $130 in tips per shift

My co-worker was serving a sweet couple, and when they left they kept saying, “Thanks, thanks!” Then they just left and my co-worker was like, “That thanks was in lieu of a tip.” I think the over-the-top thanks annoys me more than no tip.

The Veteran on Who Tips Worst, and How Not to Embarrass Yourself at a Bar

Paul King, 33
Owner, Boobie Trap

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

I get the classic rookie quote all the time: “Yo, make it strong,” or ”I can’t taste the liquor,” and they leave like $3 on the first drink just to say, “See, I’m tipping you, where’s my free drink/strong drink/attention?” even though there are 20 people who want a drink as well.

Other bartenders will always be the best tippers. Tourists aren’t the worst tippers, rich kids are. You see, tourists just need to be told to tip; rich kids don’t know the value of money. To them, the bill is a joke, but that line under it that says tip is for the peasant. I’ve heard of bartenders putting what they call asshole tax, extra money on the total, on them. If someone has made you a drink that took some time and took them away from making other drinks, then you need to tip more than a dollar. If someone has made you a communal drink like a pitcher, $1 is not cool; tip like a meal, 20 percent, on those. Oh, and people, please, stop with the change in the physical form or on your credit-card tips. You’re embarrassing yourself.

How Bartenders Work Their Customers

Elijah Miller, 32
$150 to $350 in tips per shift

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

To get good tips, you have to quickly become an expert at noticing what people want … whether they’re lonely and looking for a connection, or whether they are trying to get away from their family. I don’t think people know that bartenders often put their own money into the register for free drinks. This takes a lot of prejudging and educated guesswork about the person you’re serving. There’s a certain kind of person who will tip a whole lot, exponentially more, if they’re tipping on free drinks. When they tip you $40 on $15 worth of beer, the bar and the bartender make out really well.

Niral Shah, 27
Baby Grand
$300 in tips per shift

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Some of my best tips come from tourists, which is odd. They don’t know the norm, so maybe they overdo it? The drunker they are, the smaller the tip in general. Very big tips make me feel uncomfortable. For instance, when I get $20 with every drink and the customer is drunk, I feel bad, but, to be honest, the longer I do this the less bad I feel. People who tip a bit more will sometimes make an effort to make sure you see the tip. Like, they will hold their check back a bit if they are in a group and all are paying by card to make sure I know who tipped more. The most demanding customers tend to tip less.

Sourced from


Things Your Barista Wants You to Know


3. To those of us who work in the coffee industry, and every Italian in the world, an “espresso macchiato” is a single or double-shot of espresso “marked” with a small amount of steamed milk, not a bucket of cold sugar. Also, please notice it’s called “espresso”, not “expresso.” You will get an eyeroll, and deserve one, for saying “expresso.” It’s even written on the damn menu board. Or can’t you read through your diabetes?

4.  And speaking of scalding liquids, do you know what tastes awful when you boil it and combine it with espresso? Milk.You will also get an eyeroll and a groan if you don’t know this: “mocha” is coffee mixed with chocolate. It is not a third thing. It is not a plant. So when you say “can I get more mocha in that?” we contemplate tossing a pitcher of boiling water in your face so you will never be loved, and thus, never be able to procreate.

5.  Milk contains several proteins which denature (i.e. unfurl and break apart) as the milk gets hotter. Things get dicey above 140F, and above 160F, the proteins are denaturing so fast they are no longer so much proteins as amino acids. This is called ectoplasm and it’s not fun to drink. So please stop ordering your latte “extra hot”. Want to impress your barista? Order it “on the cool side”. Milk tastes sweetest when it’s just above body temperature. Afraid your latte will get cold in the car? Order a smaller one so you drink it faster. Or better yet, sit still for five minutes and enjoy it from a porcelain cup in the shop.

6. Here’s another thing: espresso does not have more caffeine than a cup of coffee. It does by volume, but not by serving. In fact, a small cup of coffee may have as much as SIX TIMES the caffeine as a single shot of espresso. We don’t mind making you a redeye (or the quad-shot “black eye”), but we think they’re gross, and probably bad for your heart.

7′  You may also be surprised to learn that not all professional baristi hate Starbucks. In fact, many of them began their careers there. Starbucks did a lot to make craft coffee popular in the US, and years ago their machines were all manual and their baristi, skilled. But gradually, shareholders and capitalism intervened, as often happens when a company gets that large and goes public. They still crush most independent stores for cleanliness, customer service, and employee benefits. So no need to hate just to impress us.And yet, despite our constant eyerolling and groaning, baristi don’t mind your ignorance. In fact, one of the pleasures of the job is helping to educate customers, and introducing people to new things that make them happy. What we hate is your arrogance. We work with coffee all day. We read about it. We talk about it. We taste it. We experiment with different ways to prepare it. Therefore, we know more than you. Moreover, we like when you ask questions. Treat us like professionals and we’ll treat you like human beings instead of cattle to be herded quickly out of doors.

8.  However, we’d appreciate you not using terms like “skinny” and “tall” in our stores. “Skim” and “small” have never not worked. And while I’m on the subject of marketing gimmicks, you should probably know that real coffee doesn’t come in flavors (i.e. “hazelnut”), and there is no such thing as “bold”. Dark coffee, which is probably what you mean, is dark because it is roasted longer. The longer a coffee bean is roasted, the more the carbohydrates and acids that compose it break down into components that taste bitter (look up “phenols”). The lighter the roast, the more you will taste the terroir of the bean, exactly like a fine wine. The darker the roast, the more you taste the roast. But a coffee that’s been roasted and roasted is like ordering a steak “blackened”. You won’t taste the meat any more, just the flames and the grease on the grill, and perhaps the cook’s sadness.

9.  If you want to taste the terroir (and better yet, smell it), order a pourover. It might seem intimidating, and the price often is too, but it’s actually the simplest method of making you a drink, and baristi love to do it. This is a slow-food method of preparing a single cup of coffee, custom-made for you with freshly-ground world-class beans. There are many methods, such as the Hario V-60, Beehouse, Clever Dripper, Chemex, Aeropress, the crowd-pleasing siphon pot, and even the humble Melitta. Any reputable shop will have at least one or two of these ready to go. Prepared correctly, a pourover is meant to be consumed black, and should not be bitter, but more like a strong cup of tea. Don’t know what to get? Ask.And this is why you’re so used to loading your coffee with milk. Big coffee companies over-roast their beans (often a simple business calculation ñ over-roasting hides defects in cheap beans and increases uniformity) so the coffee on its own is pretty unpleasant. The proteins and fats in the milk are very good at masking this fact, as is sugar.

10.  If the barista makes you something you don’t like, though, please don’t complain and tell him he did it wrong. But do tell him it wasn’t right for you, and ask what you might try next time. You may be surprised how much he wants to help if you’re polite about it.

11.  And don’t forget the tip. The guy likely isn’t making much per hour. He may be doing it because he likes it.

12.  One last thing: when you order an espresso over ice, we know exactly what you’re up to. The plan is to amble your fat ass over to the condiment bar, empty the milk canister into it, and gain an iced latte while only paying for the shot. This is called a “ghetto latte”, and if we catch you doing it, you may get an earful, or at least may be looking for a new coffee shop. We’re not stupid. Pay for the drink you want.

Caffeine is your god, and god loves you

Sourced from