Tag Archives: coffee shop

so it goes

vintage flowers

I feel like I can’t keep up. Shifting from a 25 hour, daytime work week to a 40 hour evening shift had a greater impact on the flow of my life than I anticipated (though I guess I wasn’t analyzing it that much – I just went for it).

I like my new work environment, but I still miss the coffee shop. I miss my coworkers, the work itself, the large front window for people watching, the spontaneous interaction. I’ve always considered myself an introvert, but I realize after a few days spent mostly alone at work that I need the presence of others to maintain sanity. My coworker left a few hours early for three days last week and by the end of each night, I could barely function. I felt anxious, bored, and on the brink of emotional breakdown. It was weird.

In a production environment, it’s nice to feel like part of a team. Being alone is overwhelming because you don’t have that safety net, that presence that implies that part of the burden will be shouldered for you if it’s too much to handle. I’ve grown to appreciate the camaraderie of working toward something as a group; it makes the most menial of tasks enjoyable by giving them a heightened purpose, by making them a relationship building activity instead of merely a mechanical chore.

I really do enjoy having two days off in a row, though. I’ve been working weekend shifts since I graduated, so it’s a strange treat to have Saturday and Sunday off, as long as I get out of the house and accomplish things.

So, things are good, just different. Now that Daniel is out of classes for the summer, I anticipate that our weekends will get more exciting. I plan to attend local festivals, visit the farmer’s market, and take trips to nearby towns on my days off. It’s time to re-level the foundation and start building up a full life again.

tips from a barista

‎”We don’t have flavored creamer because this isn’t a waiting room at JiffyLube.”

latte art

I discovered the site, Bitter Barista, this morning and it had me laughing out loud while I drank my coffee. I agree with almost every statement, but I am happy to say I have a much better attitude about working in a coffee shop than the author. I thought I’d provide some (gently put) insider knowledge to assist you in your next coffee shop order:

  1. A Macchiato, if made correctly, is a shot or two of espresso with a small amount of foam, typically served in a short ceramic cup. It is not, as Starbucks would have you believe, a double shot latte with caramel. It’s not possible to make a real macchiato in a 16 oz cup (unless you add 8+ shots of espresso, which may make you go into cardiac arrest). 
  2. If you order an Extra Hot Soy Latte, you’ll either get scalded soy milk or a regular temperature latte. Soy milk scalds at around 140 degrees. It won’t taste very good, but we’ll do it if you insist.
  3. Soy Milk doesn’t foam well, partly because it can’t be steamed for as long. If you ask for a Soy Milk Cappuccino, you’ll get either a wet cappuccino (less foam) or a latte.
  4. More foam is created as you reach maximum milk temperature (above 150 degrees). If you ask for an Extra Hot, No Foam Latte, know that you’re going against nature.
  5. To make enough foam for a Dry Cappuccino (lots of foam, very little liquid milk), the milk must be steamed first, then tapped against the counter and allowed to sit so that  the foamy air bubbles can rise to the top of the pitcher. Cappuccinos take extra time to complete, but they’re worth it. It pays to be patient.
  6. We don’t offer flavored coffee or flavored creamer because they’re gross. High quality coffee has layers of flavor notes, like wine, that come together to create a delicious, complex taste experience. We can put flavor syrup in your drink, though, so please don’t act too disappointed.
  7. Some customers ask how old the drip coffee is. I understand the concern, but the shop is typically busy enough to go through coffee in an hour or less. If you need your coffee fresh, please ask the question before you pay, then order a different drink if you’re in a hurry. We try our best to keep up with coffee demand, but if we run out or need to make a new batch, it takes almost ten minutes to complete the brewing cycle.

I really do think it’s the job of the barista, and the coffee shop, to accommodate as many specifications as possible while maintaining quality. I’m more amused than annoyed when customers make their drinks incredibly complicated or ask for things that aren’t possible. But it’d help to have basic coffee information dispersed to the wider, coffee-drinking audience. A good barista cares about both quality and efficiency, and sometimes has to strike a balance between the two to keep things running smoothly. I like my job and I like customer interaction (for the most part), so please don’t scowl at me if things don’t go your way. I really want to help you.

I’m not a seasoned veteran of the coffee shop, so if you have more advice (or need to correct some of my statements), please feel free to do so in the comments section. 

*photo source: Coffee Art

weekly review

last red leafThis week felt a little off, sort of like Marie Cardouat’s surrealist artwork in the game, Dixit (more on that later). Either my positive attitude or my energy level – or both – tend to run in a cyclical pattern: one week on, one week off. I had such a satisfying week before last that I guess my brain gave my body a break without telling me.

That’s why I need to reflect on it now, to give myself closure and perspective.

This week:

  • a customer compared my coworkers and I to the donuts on a Krispy Kreme conveyor belt in terms of efficiency; it was meant as the highest of compliments.
  • I wrote another poem. I feel really good about this one.
  • I gladly partook in American Apparel’s Friends and Family sale. Hooray for checking things off my wishlist.
  • I considered joining choir, backed out, then considered taking ballet lessons again.
  • three of my sister’s photographs were accepted into a Jacksonville art show; it’s the first non-student exhibit in which her work will be featured!
  • I met with a friend at a local coffee shop and had a marvelous time conversing on various topics (and imbibing too much caffeine) as the snow came down.
  • several friends and acquaintances visited the coffee shop where I work.
  • I talked for nearly forty minutes with some customer friends about poetry, the elderly, and the Vietnam war. He survived some of the worst parts of the war and writes poetry now to cope and help others through their trauma. It’s really great!
  • Speaking of Vietnam, a customer told a coworker and me that we are beautiful women in Vietnamese (but couldn’t tell us how to answer, thank you, as he forgot the phrase).
  • the sun finally came out on Friday morning, bringing me much cheer.
  • Daniel and I joined some friends for a game night. We played a fun interpretation game called Dixit, which includes whimsical surrealist paintings by Marie Cardouat.
  • I slowly continued to work through the book, Sexing the Body. It’s a good read despite its small print and daunting size.
  • Daniel and I had a heart to heart on my seeming embarrassment over not attending grad school. It was an emotional but necessary discussion on which I’ll reflect in a separate post.
  • my dad was interviewed on the radio about his new book, Working Would Be Great If It Weren’t for Managers.
  • my camera remote came in the mail, so now I can model vintage clothing for my store! I guess that’s this week’s project.

As always with these wrap-up posts, I feel immensely better after reading through my list. So much of my angst is due to an emotional funk rather than any real lack of progress or efficiency. Here’s to another good week!