Lifestyle

Little (Coffee) Shop of Horrors

I’ve worked as a barista in numerous coffee shops for almost 3 years. (Not Starbucks- real coffee shops!) For the most part, I had a great time. They were lively, energetic places with flexible working hours and decent pay.

I’ve worked as a barista in numerous coffee shops for almost 3 years. (Not Starbucks- real coffee shops!)

For the most part, I had a great time. They were lively, energetic places with flexible working hours and decent pay. Not to mention the free all-day coffee (and leftover pastries, cakes, biscuits, sandwiches….). And, by default, I got to be a judgmental coffee snob without being labelled a hipster. Definitely a win-win!

If you can find the right store, with staff and colleagues you get along with, working as a barista is a great part-time job to have while studying. There’s a lot of demand during holiday time and most places will train you up once you start, so not having previous experience isn’t a disaster. It also gets a bit easier to find another job once you’ve done your first one. Coffee shops are always hiring, especially students on zero-hour contracts. Then, once you graduate, you’ll have range of transferrable skills that look great on a CV, like communication or working under pressure.

However, just like any other job, barista life has its own horrors. From working a double shift on Christmas Eve to being sworn at by hangry customers, not everyone can hack it. (I definitely won’t have time to list them all, but I’ll link a few great sites below)

One of the stores I worked at was busy, to say the least. Open 15 hours a day, in the middle of a shopping centre, with queues often out of the door, Saturday afternoons were like standing in the middle of the stampede that killed Mufasa.

But, compared to Christmas Eve, this was nothing. A mass of stressed out mums with crying babies wading through the crowd. Panicking husbands and boyfriends frantically racing down escalators, trying to bag that last Tiffany bracelet. Swarms of people, shoving and scrambling in every direction. All to the sweet, sweet sound of ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’. What festive joy!

Coffee shops often have a high turnover of staff, which is great news when you’re looking for a job. Not so great when someone quits on 23rd December and it’s too late find a temp. Result: 15 hours of chaos starring yours truly. A full day of solid queues and strained customers.  That was one of my most interesting shifts.

There was a moment when someone ordered a decaf soy sugar-free hazelnut white Americano, extra hot. (Because obviously I can control the boiling point of water.) And I wanted nothing more than to pour that drink back in their face.

And there was definitely another moment when a toddler overturned a full glass of hot chocolate, whipped cream and all, down the side of a sofa.

And many moments when we ran out of milk. I found the joys of emergency Tesco milk runs.

But despite all this, I actually had a pretty fun time. Underneath the hectic mess, I learned lots of skills including the ability to handle many types of situations I wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. For any student thinking of doing a part time job, the pros surely outweigh the cons. The experience (and extra cash) is so valuable, I don’t definitely don’t regret it.

Misha Sebastian

PS Here’s the links if you want to read some fun stuff about life as a barista.

http://bitterbarista.com

http://www.thebaristalife.com/pages/top-posts

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