I worked as a barista for many years. While, no longer employed in a café, I still sympathize with anyone in the profession. No matter where I order my coffee or what condition it is in, I smile kindly, chat with, and sincerely thank the barista. I realize that many would consider me a pushover, for not insisting my drink is perfect. I choose to believe my barista did his or her best, and besides, a little pleasant conversation will improve any drink. Recently, I decided I want my own barista.
I want a barista who will smile graciously at me when I walk into the café on my cell phone. I want my barista to politely greet me, though I will carelessly avoid returning the pleasant greeting. I expect my barista to address me in a calm, pleasant voice and to never be affected by my eye-rolling or otherwise ridiculously rude behavior. I want my barista to patiently wait while I finish my enormously important phone call and ask the customers in the growing line behind me to calm down and “for heaven’s sake, practice a little patience”. My barista will always put my needs before anyone else’s.
My barista will know my precise expectations from the moment I walk into the café. If, by chance, my barista needs a day off, he will train another barista who will gratefully undertake my numerous, but well-founded, desires and needs. The barista responsible for me will know my name, my beverage, and the way I prefer my beverage served. My barista shall never write my name on my cup, I will not have Sharpie on my hands. I am a professional, after all, not a junior-higher.
My barista must know my beverage down to the exact temperature, weight, and presentation. I expect consistency and I demand perfection. I do not care how busy the café is, or how many others are waiting. My drink is a Grande, five pump, whole milk, no foam, no whip, 140-degree mocha. Let me tell you, I know when it is correct, and I know when it is not correct.
I now know that I must observe the process from start to finish or something will inevitably go wrong. I attribute that tendency to the laziness of this current generation. My barista must initially put the five pumps of chocolate in the cup, followed by two perfect espresso shots. I am required to watch to ensure the barista stirs the chocolate into the espresso with a spoon or my so-called mocha is just a boring latte, with a clump of wasted chocolate on the bottom. Don’t even try to tell me that swirling the cup is sufficient. After he carefully and quickly stirs the espresso and chocolate, he must immediately add foam-free milk of just 140-degrees Fahrenheit.
My barista knows he must then weigh my beverage. If my beverage does not weigh exactly .544 kilograms, I assume my barista negligently allowed foam into the cup and this is, obviously, unacceptable. I am paying for a sixteen ounce drink and I will not stand for some cheapskate company teaching their baristas to fill the cups with foam in order to save money on milk. On a side note, I think cappuccinos and macchiatos were created solely for the purpose of ripping off the customer. If it is the incorrect temperature, my barista will quickly and efficiently remake it. If someone accidentally plops a tiny drop of whipped cream on my beverage, my barista will happily prepare another one. If another barista accidentally fills the pitcher with two-percent milk, rather than whole milk, I will know as soon as I take the first sniff. I will slam the cup onto the counter and demand a remake. Now I will likely be late to meet my sister for CrossFit.
My barista should be able to easily distinguish, by my apparel, whether or not I am on my way to work out. If I am dressed for CrossFit, he should automatically prepare a Venti ice water for me. When my barista forgets to take note of what I am wearing, I am forced to request my Venti ice water from the hand-off plane. No matter how many drinks have been ordered behind mine, those customers will have to wait, while my barista stops to prepare a Venti ice water for me.
My barista will understand that when I hold up my finger, I expect him to drop whatever he is doing and focus only on me. Whether I need to ask a simple question, demand additional stirring, or politely request that the disgusting floor be swept, I never interrupt unless is it important. My barista will know I am really not that difficult to please and will always be delighted to serve me. I am a paying customer after all, and this is America. We have demands to be fulfilled, places to be, important meetings, and people to meet.
I consider myself a true gift to these baristas. I am an artist and a teacher. I am showing them how to be meticulous, devoted, thoughtful, and consistent. I know these are lessons they will be able to use in this job, as well as when they find “real” jobs in the future. I want my barista to be incredibly grateful and even indebted to me for this selfless act I am doing.
I want my own barista so I never have to worry about anything again while getting my morning coffee. Life is difficult enough, why should I have to suffer first thing in the morning? And one more thing, why the hell would I ever leave a tip?