OFFICE GIRL?

After years of sloggin’ it behind the espresso machine, armouring the white collar folks with fancy caffeine, and watching them saunter away out the door with the rest of their smugly-suited crew, leaving me behind until the deja-vu of break #2…I, this apron-clad, blue-collared Coffee Girl, am now trying my dishwashing-chapped hands at something different. Yup, I’m exchanging my crowded coffee counter for a quiet cubicle. *sigh* Isn’t that what every service gal is supposedly dreaming of? Right?

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I’m not going to lie, after two weeks in my new workplace I still feel like a foreign creature trying to adjust to the interesting, new habitat. Yup, I am still quite confused by the code of conduct here. The bright lights, white walls, no strangers clamoring at me, no strange, mysterious smells hovering around… When I attempted to pile up the dishes after my first “Office Friday Afternoon Tea Rapport in the Boardroom”, my coworkers were shocked, and told me to put down the used Chinette at once; cleaning up messes are no longer my responsibility! *gasp* I wanted to cry out: But that’s all I’ve ever been trained for!!!! WHAT IS THE MEANING OF MY LIFE NOW?!

Etiquette I have learned in the last two weeks in order to slip into my new sterile, simulated surroundings:
9am...It's show time!

9am…It’s show time!

 

  • When your colleague gushes about her toddlers (with names like Sabrina, Mackenzie, Mason, or Taylor), her dog/husband, and the packaged resort vacation she just booked (planned at least ten months in advance), smile and nod along in pretend-mutual understanding. When she asks for advice, don’t bring up that your only interaction with toddlers/husbands has been through mopping up their spills by a cafe condiment stand…or that you are have an intense phobia of bikini-clad business people, sat stagnant in a pool, drinking a Marguerita and discussing mortgage payments!
  • You are not sending an acceptable email unless the body includes sentences like: “It has come to my attention”, “the current fiscal year” and “warmest regards” are included. Don’t forget to follow-up to any and all emails received, and begin each email with a comment about the weather and a statement about something interesting you might have done on the previous long weekend.
    E.g. “Good morning Leslie, How are you? I trust you are enjoying the balmy weather we are having. I went for a stroll through my garden over the long weekend, and tried a new quiche recipe I found in that new gluten-free cookbook I ordered on Amazon…. INSERT ACTUAL INTENTION OF EMAIL HERE…. I hope you have a great day. I look forward to following up with you in the near future. Warmest regards, Clara.”

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  • After you have taken the morning to bond with your colleagues and respond to messages in your inbox in a timely manner, you are in need of a break! However, you don’t trust the office coffee since it’s free, readily available, and wasn’t made personally for you. Also, you need exercise and a breath of air so you must, at your own pace, put on your coat and matching outdoor accessories and reconvene with your colleagues in other departments, and mosey on out for a fresher, safer,  more expensive, and overly customized coffee. After all my years as a Barista, thinking I was needed for my expert coffee making skills, this is a HUGE shock to me! If I had known that coffee was FREELY AVAILABLE to my hoards of grumpy, dependant office customers, I would have slowed down my speed of service in protestation of their nonsensical rationality. Though I must say, a break from the office is needed, so instead of my daily cup, I purchase a daily apple from the grumpy lady at the corner store across the street.
  • Forget struggling to pay rent, wondering where your next nourishing meal is coming from, if you will have time to sleep tonight…Nope, all those worries are nothing compared to: OUT OF TONER IN THE PRINTER! PAPER JAM! PHOTO COPIER OUT OF SERVICE! You are now at the mercy of machines, and wires that can be tripped over…repeatedly!

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  • It’s important that you dress appropriately for the office. My rule of thumb: if you look like you are an equestrian rider, could model for Reitman’s/The Bay, or Ellen Degeneres, you are presentable enough for the work place.

COFFEE GIRL WARNINGS: BEWARE OF…

  • Loneliness: After just a week I was upgraded to my very own office! It’s more spacious than my house, and could easily fit roommates and the guy downstairs comfortably beside my desk and TWO COMPUTER SCREENS! However, my only company is a neglected plant (Planty the Second) that I rescued and rehabilitated from an unused board room.
  • Blocked Websites: Apparently Tarot , Harry Potter, and Dress-up the Fairy sites are not considered productive uses of time here, and therefore unaccessible. (Freedom of Magic violation?! Can I consult my union rep about this?!)
  • Social Conditioning: Even though I am aware that my ecological footprint has increased with my giant office space that could house two entire immigrant families, that I am wasting more trees than ever with my need to sticky note and memo each document, that I am conforming to a hetero-normative sweater-vest culture, and my hippie-free-coffee spirit is depleting slowly…somehow, a teeny part of me still feels like I have succeeded in life. UH-OH! Is the brain washing working on me already? NO! Must rebel against the unlimited free packages of post-it notes and Sharpies, and the finance lady’s endless supply of brownies.
  • Loss of Identity: I am more than just a monkey in a suit typing out emails, right? Just like I was more than a monkey in an apron dispensing coffee, right?
  • The Great Keurig vs. Tassimo Debate: Be careful which side you choose; office politics are about to heat up, tension in the snack room could reach a breaking point…and whichever machine you choose to brew with, don’t get caught there inserting a decaf pod! Complaining about how much caffeine you need to get through your To-Do list is a sign that you are valiant over-achiever!

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  • Microsoft Outlook:  My colleagues forget that I have no idea how to set-up a recurring reminder on Outlook, set-up an appointment on Outlook, make a personal, professional signature on Outlook, … use Outlook! My Outlook inbox is my nemesis, rapidly overflowing, and and I feel trapped in a hilarious horror movie of folders, follow-ups, and forwards that I just can’t open! LOOK OUT!!!
  • DON’T PLACE PLANTY ON THE SHELF ABOVE YOUR COMPUTER! I came in early one morning to figure out how to set up my Outlook account. I noticed my beloved Planty looked a little dry, and dumped a glass of water into her large pot which I placed over my desk (so we can chat through the day). Just as my boss and the head of the department entered, water began trickling from the shelf, right on to my desk, in a steady stream. “You might want to tend to that water damage!” –Was all my boss said as he walked by… Luckily the computer room is always well stocked with spare parts. Oops! (My coworkers did not believe I could be responsible for the overflow and insisted it must have been the negligent service staff that overwatered it overnight…I was quick to defend the DILIGENT, BELOVED service staff!)

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Gone are the days when I arrived home burnt out, with blistered fingers, and a measly paycheck that does not reflect the yelling, screaming, and bio-hazardous goop I’ve had to endure each and every café day. Yet, there’s something special about being a Barista that I just can’t get anywhere else: creating art in every cup, making something special out of seemingly nothing, and never knowing who (or what) is going to come right through my store’s door…

As much as I appreciate the experience of this strange new world called The Office, the café will always be my home, where I sprouted my first roots. You can take the girl out of the coffee shop, but at heart, I will always be Coffee Girl!

I’ll be sure to follow-up with you in the near future. On your break, check out my typical day at the office:

 

Warmest regards,

Coffee Girl

A well-deserve tea break

A well-deserved tea break

 Acknowledgements:

The warmest of warm regards to Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre for the use of their beautiful office space for filming on location in Iqaluit, NU. http://www.qhrc.ca/ @Qaujigiartiit

Beautiful Office Music from The Jerry Cans “GN Song” http://www.thejerrycans.com/

My bro Nelly for the cool jam “Hot in Herre”

Anatomy of a Hardworking Barista

This diagram was hastily scribbled on a lunch break

(This diagram was hastily scribbled on a lunch break)

 

  1. Frontal Lobe-Overload:
    Symptoms: Brain burning sensations, humming sounds, momentary paralysis, meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow etc.
    Causes: Repetitive Multi-Tasking, Bombardment of Annoyances/Frustrations/Aggravations from Compulsive-Customizing Customers
  2. Super Sonic Hearing:
    Symptoms: Sensitive to noises/conversations/orders up to 20 feet away
    Causes: Low-talking/chronic muttering customers, customers who expect their Baristas to be mind-readers
  3.  Spill Radar:
    Built-in to all Baristas and can instinctively react to and sense any spills, mess or over-flowing garbage at the precise moment of eruption
  4. Location Sensors:
    Can detect if people are behind, around, in front, beside, above you, or sliding to float
    bar/register. Useful in tight counter spaces, or when dealing with stinky/creepy customers
  5. Nervous/Frustration Sweats:
    Caused by:  Ridiculously complex orders and unnecessary obstacles all directed at you, you, YOU!
  6. Caffeine Veins
    Caused by: Too many coffee tastings, espresso boosting
  7. Coat Hanger Smile
    Used to cover-up extreme dehydration, customer cynicism, and Barista Bitterness Syndrome
  8. Desensitized Nose:
    Caused by: breathing a hearty mixture of greasy sandwich fumes, cleaning products, old pastries, potent perfumes
  9. Chronic “That-Doesn’t-Feel-Normal” Back Pain:
    Symptoms: sharpness, concrete/stiff spine, all-the-time agony
    Caused by: Never sitting down, never sleeping
  10. Notre Dame Shoulder Hunch:
    Caused by: Leaning, reaching, bending, rummaging, contortionism, shivering, waving, never stop moving, etc.
  11. Octopus Arms
    *See number 10*
  12. Un-Funny Bone Bruising
    *See number 10*
  13. Eye Sores:
    Symptoms: blurred vision, squinting, near and far sightedness, crying, never closing ones eyes
  14. Pathological Lying:
    Symptoms: thanking everyone repeatedly, complimenting, too much small talk followed by feelings of emptiness
  15. Dizzy Spells/Seeing Fruit flies:
    Symptoms: Light-headedness, going in circles, temporary amnesia, little critters manifesting everywhere…oh they actually are.
  16. Antsy Pants
    Symptoms: Twitching, inability to stay still, anxious legs
    Caused by: Customers and Neurotic Bosses
  17. Flattened Feet
    *See nuumber 10*
  18. Angry Muscles:
    Symptoms: Loss of normal-paced movements, intense resistance to un-coffee-related tasks, muscles screaming out in protest to everything
    Causes: Being a Barista
  19. State of Pig Sty
    Causes: “If I only have 10 minutes, I will always choose eating over showering!”
  20. Coffee-O-Porosis:
    Symptoms: weak, hallowed bones, jelly legs
    Causes: Drinking only coffee (it’s free) due to lousy Barista salary and long hours
  21. Charred and Slitted Fingers
    Caused by: frequent burns, cutting bagels in a panic
  22. Over-Sanitized Hands
    Symptoms: chapped, red, Cinderella hands
    Caused by: Soooooo many dishes
  23. Mysterious Hair Goop
    You don’t wanna know the colour or texture’s of what’s been found in there…
  24. Caffeine Rash:
    Symptoms: mysterious redness, tiny red bumps, itchiness
    Caused by: ???? caffeine fleas? customer lice?
  25. Bad Luck
    Symptoms: tripping, falling, chronic clumsiness, same old routine expecting
    different results, “fail fail epic fail”
  26. Sleepy Body Parts
    Caused by: sleep deprivation. Then standing behind the register for hours…ZzzzYup, that just about covers it. When do my benefits kick in? Oh, yeah, that’s right: Baristas are never covered, unless in comes to shifts.Coffee Girl

INKED

“To remove my tattoos would be to erase my past. And then who would I be?”

-Coffee Girl

Photo on 2010-05-14 at 20.05

Ink is everywhere. Many people have tattoos these days, and your Barista is likely one of them. Wearing our emotions on our aprons; consistently designing latte art; talking to a variety of folks; using our hands in intricate ways. A cafe is  really an art gallery, and making coffee is creatively demanding work. Though we can seem like a bitter bunch, our tattoos are not a sign of anger, suppressed sadness, or an indication that we have some scary secrets to hide. Quite the opposite.

Ink is art. It’s a personal representation of one’s journey through colour, images, and symbols. For some, like me, pictures speak louder than words. Others have difficulty articulating their stories, or sharing their thoughts with anyone; their tattoos make their exteriors’ vibrant as their spirits, giving their shy silence a voice. My tattoos shine brighter than the skin I’m living in.

Ink is healing.  Tattoos breathe. They move. They are penetrable. Unlike scars, they are not a defence against outsider attacks. They welcome you. They beg you for conversation. They share with you, enlighten you. They promote healing through dreaming, and send a message that anything is possible; nothing can not be redesigned, or repackaged.

Ink is hope. Instead of scars, wounds can be replaced by birds, flying freely, and filling their wearer, and observers, with inspiration. Instead of masking struggle with pain, and pain with hurt, and hurt with anger, why not try ink? It’s the cry for hope instead.

Ink is life. Tattoos, even  in their permanent nature, are a reminder that each moment we throw away with our coffee cups is precious, salvageable. While we cannot change our history, we can add our own perspectives. Some like their coffee black, others prefer milky tea, just as my glistening ink soothes my hectic routine. Tattoos are my passport stamps, highlighting where we’ve been.  A tattoo is an admonition that there’s more out there yet to live. Just let your imagination guide you.

Inked is a damn fine Barista.

Coffee tree

A freshly blooming coffee tree

Memories of My Village Café

Two weeks, two hot, crowded and sticky cross-country bus rides on dusty pot-hole infested “roads” and one wide-eyed and weary me later, I am finally settling into my new home: Sandema, a beautiful, picturesque village in the Upper West Region of Ghana.

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Welcome to West Africa!

Already my daily routine has changed somewhat dramatically. Instead of rising before the sun, now I rise with it at 5:45am, not to serve coffee of course (I’m on “vacation”) but to go for a run down the road, through the fields and under that vivid green of tree canopies. If I don’t wake up early, the piercing African sun will melt me into my sheets making rising even more difficult. Breakfast means taking a pit stop for fresh eggs and bread from the neighbours and saying endless good mornings (“Salooa”) to the already up and working, and smiling, villagers.

I’ve already mastered lighting a charcoal fire outside and carefully cooking up a giant pot of rice, pasta or groundnut soup. There is often not enough cutlery to go around, but messy fingers work betterl! Then it’s time for a refreshing shower and that’s where this trip’s saving grace comes in: the bucket. The water often isn’t working at the community centre (where we sleep on the floor on mattresses under mosquito nets) so every morning, with no caffeine in my system, I have to trek across the road to laboriously pump a bucket of water from the bore hole, just like everyone else, and carry it back on my head (I always slosh a good amount down my front to the shrieks of laughter from the audience of Sandema youth that follow me). I feel like I’m five years old again (or maybe a baby elephant) when I get to cool off with a bucket shower: lathering up, dumping cool water all over and splashing around until I’m slightly-less dusty. Surprisingly, half a bucket of water makes for quite a luxurious bubble bath so I will think twice about my guilty pleasure of an epic 40-minute long hot showers back home in the city (not that I shower all that much; A barista has little time for extras like that).

Here's my local joint. Definitely no not-fat-no-foam lattes here, that's for sure.

Here’s my local joint. Definitely no not-fat-no-foam lattes here, that’s for sure.

When I am up and dressed in a pretty new gown made from colourful cotton fabric and sewed by the lovely seamstress down the road, it’s off to the market I go to buy fruit and vegetables (okra, eggplant, avocados, green oranges and lots of soup greens, which look like weedy-leaves…oh and I can’t forget the delicious mangoes!). I drink coconut water and fruit punch for refreshment as I carry someone’s baby on my back, carefully wrapped up in a sheet. Simple errands can take hours and a small detour take turn into an adventure since there are so many people to talk to, greet, meet and chat with and the next thing I know I’m in someone’s hut making stew, sitting at the hair salon keeping a girl company on her latest rasta style, or watching a Black Stars football defeat  huddled around a tiny TV and swaying as the town shakes and then erupts with paramount excitement!

My favourite part, most beloved part of this new dream routine is my new retreat, my heavenly sanctuary. Hidden in the middle of the wispy warm fields, through the long ticklish grass and surrounded by goats and small jungle trees stands the baobab tree, one unlike any other. It’s powerful, smooth branches extend in all directions, touching ground and sky and quietly beckoning me climb up into its wise, old depths. The holes and knots on its trunk are perfect to the slip my feet into and clasp my little fingers around and even though I was nervous at first (and a touch afraid of heights) I know I am safe and protected, so I now scramble freely up.

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The baobab tree

I have never seen so many shades of green then when I look up at its lush canopy; it acts like an umbrella, shielding me from the fierce African sun and my pounding thoughts. The branches reach up and out like pathways, each one ending in sprouting flowers and baobab fruits. There’s a comfortable nook and cubby-hole to sit and rest and then snooze. The tree silently hugs me as I lean with my back pressed against its sturdy trunk. From up here I am almost with the clouds, the blue sky and the town bustling in the distance, but I am invisible, like a small, silent witness absorbing and digesting the site before my eyes, the whisper of the leaves and birds drifting by my ear.

The smell is sweetly sour and the bark smells ancient yet alive, like the furniture in my late grandmother’s house. I am never alone for long. Giggles and footsteps break the mood and up slither two little children who look as though they were born in this tree; they can jump and play from branch to branch so effortlessly. Their agile bodies twist in all direction and they sway with the tree as it dances. If I’m lucky, one will climb out to the tiniest tips of the branches and bring me a baobab flower. Here I could sit for hours, laughing, singing, telling stories, learning and exploring. Or just sitting half-asleep knowing that after all the tree sees and all it has seen, in this moment in time, it is just seeing me, and for a moment I’m part of its extensive history, one that echoes with the breeze and beckons to the children, people and strangers who pass by here now.

Darkness falls early so I rush back to the centre to cook dinner and reconvene with my new family. Before bed, we laugh more and dance more and play cards and silly games galore. But as my head hits the pillow, my mind is once again buzzing along with the noisy crickets and bull frogs.

My new routine may not be about coffee or making the perfect drink, but the connections I’ve made, the people I’ve met, the peace I’ve found and the lessons I’ve learned is enough to get me  ”AH-HA!”-ing: here, I don’t need the caffeine or the pick-me-up and the customer follow-ups that the cafe brings; I have found it hidden in other settings. This village is my cafe: the locals greeting me multiple times a day are like my regulars and we look out for one another. The new drinks and food nourish me and keep me going throughout the day, energizing me on my way to market and treetop.

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I never knew the power of buckets until I came to Ghana!

There are always endless daily chores to be done and we all share the work, like my Barista team back home, repetitively cleaning out the urns, and re-stalking the fridge for today, tomorrow and the day after that. And my tree, (better than the big powerful espresso machines) where I feel the most relaxed, where I can learn/write and develop my craft. The peace and control I feel here reminds me of that steady calm that I have only ever experienced when I’m making lattes behind the espresso counter! Thank you Ghana.

Love, Coffee Girl

 

 

Every Rainbow

“Sexuality is fluid; whether you’re gay or you’re straight or you’re bisexual, you just go with the flow.”

-Shane, The L Word

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Every human is mostly water, its life force is air. As humans, fluidity is in our nature.

Every fluid, including coffee is adaptable, it has no boundaries. Its flow is limitless until given a container.

Every order comes with a differently marked cup. The process for filling it is relatively the same, with just a few minor changes, depending on the customer’s preference.

Every cup wants to be handled with care, and filled lovingly with the finest product.

Every café is alive with unique flavours, catering to any individual’s desires.

Every date begins at the coffee shop. Love at first sip.

Every Barista learns not to discriminate between cups. Coffee is coffee, no matter what it’s put in, or how you choose to drink it.

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Every customer is welcome.

Hip, Stirred in NYC

Here I squat, with my Cafe Mocha, in the East Village (2nd Ave.7th St).

Coffee Girl in Manhattan

Coffee Girl in Manhattan

I’m the know-not, un-hippest trend-rejected girl here in the Lower East Side. Would someone PLEASE teach me how to bite into coffee culture in the biggest, hippest apple?

First off, I’m not really in New York City. But more like hipster central on the lower edges of Manhattan. Smooshed between funky necklace boutiques, angry-artsy tattoo parlours, Venezuelan tapas hubs, over-crowded organic-gourmet milkshake gallery-shops, and ancient dusty wine cellars, is me.

I want to be the local, I want to blend in…but the first thing I’ve learned is you can’t figure out how to breathe here, you’ve just gotta be born knowing. You either have It. Or It has to find you. I’ve decided I will probably spend my life staring at the finger of the person who is pointing out where It is, and I’m proudly saying i see It, but really staring, blurrily, five feet below where It is. The Have-Its are laughing.

Well here’s my best shot (espresso shot that is):

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NYC Coffee Shops. Now I  feel like I have been doing this wrong forever. new check-list:

1. Dingy? Whole-in-wall? With an essence of grungy Plaid? Bingo!

2. Strange unique name? Weird abbreviations? Foreign words? Named after a misunderstood artist? Or French lady? Ironic/witty? (aka NINE83, AbraCo, Cafe Collette, Grumpy).

3. Social suicide: Union square/anywhere within walking distance of a Starbucks, and well-lit places full of tourists, happy people, academics, mainstream, newly made clothes, Ugg boots, obese people. ugh, for shame…

4. There should be at least six obscure, freshly roasted blends on tap, the darker and blacker the better. Add extra points for more ironic names, aka Mundane Blend.

5. The more people wearing unnecessary hats, vintage scarves and lace-up boots the better. Oh, and plaid, duh.

6. Absolutely no children inside. No golden retrievers or labs waiting outside. If so, keeping skulking on by.

7. Obscure indie artist mix or mild punk music must be playing. Or side patio for cigarette rolling. Top 40 is a definite turn off, and will be turned off immediately.

8. Fresh baked vegan or white-chocolate-blueberry—pinot-soaked-pumpkin-oatmeal cookie type options. Or starvation.

9. Evil eyes to corporate coffee chains.

10. The Baristas behind the counter must be wearing awkward ties and blazers, skinny jeans and vintages tees, and yes, plaid. They should all be lattes-artists and very stoic and unfriendly. All words exchanged must be 90% sarcastic. Or silence.

11. Coffee is a necessary part of existing; you don’t look for a good coffee shop, you know where to go. Thank the hipster gods who made you this way.

12. Be picky. Be pretentious. Be an expert. Cuz you just are. Meh.

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OTHER NEW YORK TRENDS:

▪ Milk Bars: enjoy “homemade style” cookies dipped in different types of milk. From strawberry soy to cereal-soaked, dunk cereal bars in your jam-jar cup at the long wooden table.

▪ Design-your-own-FRO-YO! Frozen yogurt will never be the same because now it’s all about personal customization with gummy worms, lychee balls, on top low-fat peanut butter and sugar-free lemon drop flavours. Please don’t conform my cone!

▪ Obscure foods from ALL over the world: the harder to pronounce the better, and the more remote the country gives you bonus points.

▪ Gourmet hot dogs: This has actually been an Icelandic tradition forever but now it’s here, and waaaay more expensive.

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▪ Street food trucks: move over hot dogs and soft-serve, NYC has an excellent variety of street food all available in convenient roadside trucks. As delicious as they are sketchy, enjoy a gyro, Jamaican rice and beans and greasy chicken feast for a low low price. (Perfect for Occupying Wall Street!)

▪ Pies. Too bad I don’t like crust.

FIN.

Coffee Girl

 

Punching Out

Punching out of a ten hour shift for a veteran barista is like being ejected from a grueling mission in a parallel universe; time and space operate with the same codes as a constantly running deja-vu. Schmoozing with strange lifeforms is crucial to you, and your team’s survival; rigorous feats of endurance under harshly lame climates and all-too-predictable circumstances is the norm on Planet Coffee.

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Captain Coffee Girl

Emerging from the store into a gentle evening breeze on Earth, the Barista’s senses are perplexed and it will take them time to readjust to local conditions. To the average coffee worker, the natural elements such as wind, rain, or the warm caress of the sun is a foreign experience, like early onset Alzheimer’s, causing a mixture of confused emotions. She must walk slowly to induce proper circulation and regain feeling in her limbs, and with time she will rediscover her natural gait.

What the world looks like after emerging from a week in cafe hell

What the world looks like after emerging from a week in cafe hell

The Barista will feel untrained to walk normally amongst other humans. The rhythm of traffic and the flow of the crowd moving along the sidewalk is noisy, overwhelming and unnatural; she will try to sneak in, and match the assumed pace, but then the paranoia sets in. Ears still straining, over-amplifying whispers that could be possible orders, she takes a deep breath, reminding herself that she is no longer bound to the register.

Stopping at the busy intersection, standing anonymously with the hoards of people waiting to cross into the subway, the Barista’s blood, darker than espresso, rushes to her head, pulsating in a pounding slow motion.

Should I be offering to carry someone’s briefcase or will I be asked to translate an already-clear instruction into something even more obvious?! She panics.

The light changes and the Barista hurries forward, eyes stuck downward. The feeling of the pavement under her quaking legs is the first solid ground after swimming in sea of foam/no-foam/extra-foam for so long. She struggles to remember her exact whereabouts and how she got here; the chaos and blinding lights, could this be New York City? Or Neverland? Everything is possible after being been shut up in an artificial, well-decorated box for oh, so long.

Although she is unrestricted now, and able to wander wherever she likes, with her caffeinated heart, and her wired mind she will never be truly free. So many choices, so many paths to cross, so much laundry to do, and relationships to fix… Why did she ever punch out at all?

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Hello sky! Hello pigeons! Hello everything! 

The overcast evening has never felt so endless, nor so enchanting. She can almost taste the air in her dehydrated cheeks. With every step she chances, she regains some forgotten balance. Her lips creeping up into her first genuine smile of the day. Staring up now, she stops to take in the sight of the busy street in front of her. She notices many of the idling cars have coffee cups resting on their dashboards, and are being sipped by impatient and bored looking drivers; passengers slouch, lost in a gloomy daze.

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Rush hour

Even for her shitty hourly wage, the barista always feels that being able to by-pass all of these daily lines that other people cling to, and suffer through is priceless.

Punching-in again soon,

Coffee Girl

 

How To Have the Worst Valentine’s Day EVER! (Barista-style)

A coffee shop is Valentine's Day central

A coffee shop is Valentine’s Day central

Rule #1: Get to work early. When I say early, I mean leave the house at 4am and walk through darkness, sleet, and your black uniform that’s unsuitable for the weather. It’s especially helpful if you get 3 hours of sleep or less.

Rule#2: Don’t set yourself up for the tasks ahead, but practice poor time management skills, and what I like to call Grumpy Judgment. For example, if you work in a coffee shop like me, inconveniently “forget” to turn on the espresso machines or grind coffee so your first customers will be disappointed and hurt, and therefore won’t thank you.

Rule #1

Rule #1: Snoozing in the backroom

Rule #3: Eat too many heart-shaped cookies too fast. Then drink lots of hot cinnamon tea, so you burn your tongue. When you have to go to the bathroom, make sure you pick the times you know it will be occupied by customers freshening up for their hot Valentine’s dates, leaving you to do the pee-pee dance outside while becoming extra frustrated.

Rule #4: Make sure everyone you enjoy working with has already booked this special day off. Who doesn’t want to be stuck closing in a messy store with complete strangers on Love Day? It’s like awkward, minimum-wage Speed Dating!

Rule #5: Help your friend with a university project on the themes romance, in a documentary he’s editing about vampires cults. Fixate on the parts about illegitimate super-natural erotic scenes, feeling slightly jealous that even fake-monsters can find love.

Rule #5: Hit on any, and all customers, and wink at creepy homeless people on the street to boost your self-esteem. Cry when even they don’t respond to your advances.

Rule #6

Rule #5

Rule #6: The only flowers you get should be delivered to you by accident because of a messenger who got the wrong address, and sent them to your store by mistake. Of course you must keep the mis-directed flowers and put them in your hair to show other Baristas how fake-loved you are. Muahaha!

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Rule #6

Rule #7: Butcher an Adele love song by belting it out with the incorrect notes and lyrics, and by whipping your hair back and forth. Then laugh hysterically until your new co-workers exchange nervous glances because you are showing signs of being a crazy person.

Rule #8: Finally watch “The Notebook”. Sob uncontrollably. Then find a notebook, and write a love story about reuniting with your first true love, who has just moved faraway. Sob uncontrollably because it probably won’t come true. Pray that Rachel McAdams will come into the store.

Rule #9: Eat two extra bacon-y subs on your break, and listen to your heart burn, thankful that at least the employees at the sandwich shop know how to treat a girl right today. *Burp*

Rule #10: Barf in your mouth as you whip-up endless cinnamon-heart hot chocolates, and hand over a red velvet cupcake with two spoons to the happy couple. Collapse behind the counter in the fetal position the moment they start feeding each other. Get sent home sick by co-workers.

Step #10

Rule #10

Rule #11: Twirl ’round and ’round in a circle in the middle of the street, while cars screech and honk around you, and shout: Happy Valentine’s Day Bitches!!!

How to Ask your Customer on a Date

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These tips have been successfully tested, and are surprisingly effective. Although I haven’t actually asked a customer out (my co-workers have), I have made it possible to be successfully asked out by the customer (even better!) on a few occasions. Yes, the coffee shop is more practical than any online dating website. Isn’t a cafe where all classic first dates begin, anyway?

▪ Luckily, Baristas are paid an abysmal salary to chat people up and get to know them. So, not only doing we doing our jobs well if we’re genuine, forward and approachable, we’re also doing ourselves a favour. The friendlier and flirtier we are, the more points we will score with our crushes… and our store sales. Make like a latte: sweet, bold and right at his/her fingers tips. Nothing is more attractive than confidence: A Barista who isn’t afraid to do her job right.
Customer tip: Just because your Barista is super friendly and flirty, doesn’t always mean she is into you. It could be the person before you or behind you in the line-up, so be wary of direct eye contact.

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Consistency! If a Barista knows her crush has a regular time he/she comes, in, DUH, she will often change her work availability! She’ll consistently be friendly to all customers, but give extra attention to her crush so he/she will look forward to coming into that particular location and never miss a morning.

Play all the positions. The love-struch Batista will alert a few trustworthy co-workers about her situation. Then the Barista team makes sure she can easily adjust her position so that she is calling the line (taking orders) right when her fave crushtomer comes in. Then she’ll sneakily slide to the register when it’s time for him/her to pay, and quickly push aside the other Baristas and make the beverage (perfectly) by the time the crushtomer at the bar hand-off. Next she’ll “conveniently” get sent by the supervisor to re-fill the milk at the condiment stand where her crush is now standing alone, adding sugar. If the Barista is clever, she will be able to transition this routine smoothly enough to have a sweet conversation lasting from the moment the crushtomer enters the store, to when he/she leaves, blushing. Also, he/she will be impresses by how amazing the Barista is a her job…unless the Barista is clumsy like me. Once I exploded an entire pitcher of milk, and dropped hundreds of dollars from my from register on the floor because I was so nervous. I got lots of laughs from the line-up and eye rolls from my co-workers. I did score a date, but probably only out of sympathy.
WARNING: Be careful not to tell the wrong co-workers, which can lead to Barista gossip and caddiness in the coffee shop. 

Three words: Free beverages always.

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Let the crushtomer know your work schedule. This is a clear indication of if he/she likes the Barista in return: if the customer crush remembers what shifts she works and starts coming in to see her in action at the coffee shop, well, that Barista will soon be doing a little dance when she gets down tonight!

Constantly bus the cafe so that the Barista is easily approachable, and the café sparkles. Though on one of the occasions when I was asked out, I was in the middle of changing the garbages. I panicked and chucked all the bags hastily into the dumpster…and the store keys along with it! Yes, I got a date, but then had to endure the  longest shift of my life. Digging through trash in the back alleyway, in tears, well past midnight worrying I’d lose my job wasn’t the ideal start to romance. But I did free fancy dinner out (and then some) the next night.

Dress up for work. think “Pretty Woman”, but instead as a Barista is serving coffee with dignity, and probably not to Richard Gere.

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 An audacious Barista will write her name, number, and cute messages on the cup. YES YES!!! It’s not tacky. It’s hot, and it works (as long at her penmanship is legible).

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Details Details Details! After a Barista gets her crushtomer’s order down, she must make sure she moves the conversation to anything else BUT coffee. It’s crucial to really get to know them as a person, just like reading an online profile. Remember, customers often come to the café because they are neurotic and unable to start off their day alone, so showing interest will really make them love you. Awwww…we are all only human afterall.

If a crushtomer hasn’t asked the Barista out yet, then it’s time to turn the tables! At the end of the day, it’s just a customer so why not?! The worst that will happen is he/she will switch stores, or the Barista will have to wear a coffee bag over her face for the rest of her shifts. Soon that Barista will fall in love with the next tall-dark-handsome-non-fat-cappuccino who walks through the door. Win!

Love, Coffee Girl