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.

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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

 

Call Me Crazy

Photo on 2010-05-14 at 20.03

Having a Crazy kinda day

We’re not encouraged to talk about the days when we feel broken, sick and tired, trapped, isolated, or just feel like chopping off our beautiful locks of hair. It’s somehow okay to be stuck in a polished package, completely damaged underneath, but if we dare utter a word, then we’re just out-of-control, crazy.

As you know, I work in customer service so I’ve seen more than my fair share of people trying to cope with their crazy. Instead of looking our crazy squarely in the eyes, asking it why it’s bothering us, most people try and lock their crazy in a closet. Always nervous that it might sneak out and follow them around the corner, they often seek sanity in their local coffee shop.

Lucky for us, that we’ve been given all sorts of special tools designed to help us keep our crazy safely tucked away. But it’s not really hidden away is it? Crazy can pop up everywhere, whether we are reading a glossy magazine, invited to a best friend’s wedding, or given a latte made incorrectly, yes crazy is always ready and waiting to leap out when we least expect it. However how we choose to mask our unique version of crazy is up to us. The important part is that it’s invisible by the time our colleagues or family members are within sight of our heaven-forbid crazy house.

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If I handed you a latte in an old, broken styrofoam cup, you’d probably think I was crazy, that there was something wrong with it. But if I put the same latte in a limited-edition Starbucks tumbler, I’m pretty sure you’d drink two. Okay, maybe that is not the best example because who wouldn’t want a free tumbler? Now that would be crazy! My point is, we as consumers put so much emphasis on the packaging, and not enough on the actual act of consumption, which let’s face it, is a little crazy. Why are we buying anyway? Because we like it? Because it’s nice? Or to keep our minds preoccupied with something else, and off of crazy!

I can understand starting your day with a touch of caffeine. Whether you make it at home or stop off at your favourite coffee shop, it’s still a bit crazy but at least we can all relate to it: Normal crazy. But a Venti 3-Pump-Sugar-Free-Caramel-4-Pump-Sugar-Free-Vanilla-Steamed-Soy-Foam-Americano? Non-Fat Lattes every few hours? Two drink remakes before your order is acceptable? Extra-extra-extra-Hot with extra-extra-extra whipped cream? What kind of crazy are you trying to hide?

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I do have customers who are deeply affected by crazy, who wear it on their sleeves because they haven’t found a package big enough, nor one they can afford one, to fit their crazy inside yet. Our Irregulars (as my fellow Barista refer to them as)  are welcome to run back and forth naked through our doors, contemporary dance to their own beat on our patio, talk to themselves, and draw bizarre interpretations for us, because I know that if my crazy got the better of me, I’d want people who really understood crazy supporting me too. And trust me we do! I mean who hasn’t wanted to run naked through a coffee shop’s door, screaming that they are just so fed up with crazy? Admit it, I won’t think you’re crazy.

I guess it does take a little bit of unmasked crazy to work in a coffee shop. With all the repetitive brain strain injury as the same Regulars and Irregulars storm the registers day after day, I start to see a bit of crazy everywhere. But I guess there are profits to be made off of nourishing crazy. Ginormous drinks and loaded brownies to the over-emotional, sugar-free and non-fat for the insecure, soy for the allergic, and over-priced tea for the lonely. Yup, we are all in some way crazy. I feel like a crazy beverage therapist!

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So, if we’re all crazy, let’s stop running, and just be crazy enough to talk openly to each other, from one crazy to another. You might find that your crazy is normal. Are you sure you still want that Venti 3-Pump-Sugar-Free-Caramel-4-Pump-Sugar-Free-Vanilla-Steamed-Soy-Foam-Americano? I thought so. I’ll just go put my crazy apron on.

 

See you in the loony bin, aka my café floor! Off my meds as always,

Clara on the job

Coffee Girl

A Redirection of Common Misconceptions

Misconception #1: Baristas Are Stupid.

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You may wonder why I put this in here, but yes, the most common judgment I receive from customers is that I’m too unintelligent to do anything but serve coffee. If I give you the wrong change, it’s not because you didn’t look properly at the price, it’s because I probably never learned to count. If I forget to give you non-fat because your’s was one of 12 drinks I was preparing, you think I probably have a mental disorder or a hearing problem. You talk to us in loud, slow voices, roll your eyes when we ask for clarification on your ridiculous order, or talk over us like we don’t exist. Actually, most staff at cafés have or are working on university degrees and are smart enough to know that working in a café is probably the most fun place to work (when we’re not serving arrogant customers who stupidly decide to treat us like children). I’m smart enough to smile and nod at you now because I know that you could never do what we do.

Misconception #2: Baristas Looooove Getting Exact Change.

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No, you love getting rid of change. We Baristas love getting you out of the line-up as quickly as possible so standing there watching you rummage and scrounge for every last penny in your purse so that you can hang on to those beloved bills is not our idea of an ideal transaction. Believe me, I have plenty of change in my till and could care less if you give me more, so while you stand there rifling around to save a note, save your breath instead and don’t tell me how I’m lucky to get all your rejected change. Just give me the $20, and stick your change in the tip jar if you can’t handle the extra weight of your wallet!

Misconception #3: Baristas Judge You When You Pay with Debit or Credit for Small Purchases. 

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I’ve never understood why people apologize profusely when they have to pay with a credit card! Honestly, we prefer this! Not only is it quicker, but I don’t have to touch your grubby hands or tally up your total. Apologize to yourself: you’re the one who has to pay the bank fees! Just remember to swipe your debit card according to the diagram on the machine. Jeez, I’m not your mother!

Misconception #4: Baristas on Register are Better at Math.

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Working the register has nothing to do with math, just about putting coins together. I can see in an instant that 3 quarters, 1 nickel and 1 dime equal 90 cents. Don’t try and short change me because I can tell right away! Also, the computer does all that math for us. To be good on the till you just have to be amazing at reading numbers and have impeccable coin recognition skills. Not to mention a sunny disposition to deal with customer after customer (boy, do they add up!).

Misconception #5: Baristas Can’t Hear You When You Insult Them From More Than 2 Feet Away.

gossip

Yes we can. Just because we’ve mastered the art of being polite and detaching ourselves from stressful situations doesn’t meet we’ve given up on listening. Actually a Baristas ears have evolved to hear anything over the clanging of pitchers. You might as well tell me to my face when something is wrong so I can fix it and help you, rather than move two steps away and whisper loudly to your friend. Maybe you’re intention is that I’ll hear you and be sad/learn my lesson and take more foam off next time. But trust me, I’ve overheard it all so you’re better off walking far, far away or stepping forward and dealing with the situation like an adult! NEXT!

Coffee Girl