The Bittersweet Barista Life

I like my coffee without sugar and light with soy or almond milk.  I like the taste to be strong, but I don’t want it to slap me in the face.  I want my job as a barista to be the same way.

When I come into work, I am cheery and light-hearted.  I love when my co-workers and customers share my attitude.  It makes for a beautiful work day that not only flies by, but reminds me of the initial reasons I loved being a barista.

I love the great friendships that form and the smooth rapport with customers, who loved to see all of the baristas laughing and joking around so early in the morning.

In my Florida coffee shop, the barista team has truly begun to take on this vibe, much more so than when I first came here nine months ago.  The customers, however, are not on point.  There are a handful of them who greet us by name as we automatically start making their daily beverage of choice, and who will interact with our musings.  These are the best kinds of customers.

There are also a bunch of cranky crazies that just want to be in a foul mood, don’t think we deserve a hello, and want us to magically turn their white mocha sugar-free.  These are the customers we want to give decaf too.

I’m sorry, but we’re just people.  Maybe you don’t think we’re smart people, especially because we repeat your drink back to you in an order that doesn’t make sense to you.  Well, it makes sense to us and helps us get your damn no foam, extra whip, ten Splenda drink correct! (Which by the way, if you’re so smart, why are you putting cancer in your cup?)

And maybe if you actually had a conversation with us, you’d know that we love to rock drinks out perfectly and make someone’s day by exceeding their expectations, or that we each know random facts on odd subjects, and love to travel, or are in a band.

And even if some of us aren’t the smartest, baristas are usually good people.  Studies show that… ha, you think I would waste my time researching this crap?  Baristas are great — it’s a fact.  Okay, so maybe there are exceptions… but still, the majority of us are fun, knowledgeable and want to help the world in some way.

All of that aside, it’s okay if you don’t give a damn about the person who serves you that beverage you claim starts your day.  It’s okay to not know their name or have any sort of small talk with them.  We’re cool with that, too.  But damn it, just smile and respond if we say “Hi, how are you?”  Don’t stick your finger up to tell us to hold on or wordlessly move to the side because you’re not ready to order yet.  I didn’t ask you a hard question or what you wanted.  A simple, “Hi, good”, will suffice.  Too much to ask? Apparently, you’re right since so many people ignore us.

The point is, I’ve learned a lot about people during my time as a barista.  I hope I never forget this knowledge once I leave the job, which is less than four months away!  Will I take off the green apron forever?  Who knows?

I will be traveling for 6 months!  I am super excited about this journey I’m about to go on.  Although, I won’t be a barista during my travels, I will frequent coffee shops often, and can only hope to form bonds with many baristas along the way.

I’ll develop my research further on the ratios of baristas being good people vs. bad. Stay tuned… but don’t hold your breath on any accurate studies. (I’m a writer, Jim, not a scientist or sociologist or whoever the heck does that kind of study!)


  • 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.