Traveling Barista: Cutting The Apron Strings

Well, last week was it — my final week as a barista. After 9 years, I thought I’d feel more sentimental. I figured I’d cry. As I blended frappuccinos on my last day, I reminded myself that I would never do that again. You know what? That made me happy.

I guess I’m sad I’m not sad. Does that make sense? How can I turn away from something that’s been a part of my life for so long and not shed a tear?

Starbucks has brought so much to my life. Aside from the health benefits, stock options and steady paycheck, it has allowed me to follow my dreams. I was able to manipulate my schedule any way I wanted to, for the most part.

Because I was a good worker, my managers would go the extra mile for me when I needed a day off to cover a concert for my magazine, or when I needed to cut my 40 hours down to 20 so I could do public relations/marketing.

On top of that, I was able to transfer to different areas, like Nashville and Florida, although the latter district was a hot mess about it, and I almost quit then.

Anyway, I am so thankful I was able to have a job to go to while I was finding my way. I was even more thankful that for the most part, I enjoyed my job — the past couple of years aside.

The friendships and connections with co-workers and customers that I have made are valuable, and I have taken them with me from city to city, year after year.

Still… on my last day, I found myself relieved. I clocked out, gave my co-workers high-fives and hugs. I changed out of my work clothes and threw the tattered, coffee infused items in the trash with excitement.

I guess it really is time to cut the apron strings. To move on and not look back. The truth is, Starbucks has become increasingly more corporate, and less about the connections. Creativity and supporting our side gigs was very much apart of our coffee community. I’ve held book signings at one location and promoted my events at others.

My co-workers, though we always vented about nasty customers, supervisors who were always in the backroom, and the ‘right way’ to do a task, have become disgruntled more than I’m used to. Even me, someone who is described as patient, positive and sweet, feels my blood boil easier while I’m behind that line.

It was time. When you no longer find joy in something, it’s time to move on. It doesn’t dull the memories; it reminds you of how it could be, and should be. For the sake of my fellow baristas, and new ones to come, I hope Starbucks rekindles that joy, and not just plaster it on the red holiday cups each year.

Now, what does this mean for the Traveling Barista blog? It lives on. I know I am not a barista any longer, but in my heart — I think I will always be one. My goal with this blog is to keep that connection alive. I plan to visit many coffee shops on my upcoming travels, and talk about the connections, and still reflect back on my own barista memories.

My apron is off, but I’ll always make time for a cup of coffee and good conversation.


  • Sandy Lo

    Sandy Lo’s personal story is inspiring. She started, StarShine Magazine, an online publication in 2001, at the age of 18. She wrote her first novel in 2009, “Lost In You,” followed by the “Dream Catchers” Series. She was the first person ever to professionally interview Taylor Swift and has received personal endorsements for her books from members of boy bands Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees. Recently, she has been seeing some tremendous momentum in book sales on Kindle. She has been included on the “50 Writers You Should Be Reading” list by The Authors Show, and “Dream Catchers”, “Breaking The Moon” and “Indigo Waters” reached the Top 100 Best Selling Coming of Age novels in Amazon’s Kindle Store. What makes this even more unique, is that Sandy relocated from NY to Nashville in order to write “The Watch Dog,” which is set in a fictional town outside of Music City. “The Watch Dog” reached the Top 10 Ghost Stories on Amazon. Aside from her writing projects, Sandy is also a freelance digital strategist.