I served as a barista for two years during university. I can honestly tell you that the winter holidays are a rough time for anyone working in customer service. Having had this experience, I now feel for people who go through this, and want people to know the realities of the holidays specifically for baristas. Here are ten things baristas wish you knew during the holidays!
1. Egg Nog is Actually Everywhere
Chances are, if barista aprons aren’t already coated in this holiday treat, their shoes are filled with it as they march back and forth to make your drinks quickly.
2. Think Hard About Giving Your Child a Coffee
As a barista, nothing is perplexing as watching an adult order a coffee for their five-year-old because it’s holiday themed. You warn them that there is caffeine. They nod and smile. Then, forty minutes later, you are informed that the child has thrown up that kids temp-extra sweet-peppermint white chocolate mocha all over the walls of the bathroom. Festive.
3. We Have No Authority Over Cup Design
For those of you who have no chill when it comes to how festive the to-go cups are. Do you really think a minimum wage employee is going to call corporate office? And just to pass on your individual feedback that the sleeves could use more reindeer?
4. No, We Are Not Illustrators
I remember one time, I was working in the drive-thru, and someone asked me to draw a festive display on their child’s cup. I drew a basic tree, handed them the cup, and they shook their head, and said “A bit more”. With all due respect, baristas are here to get stuff done and hand you a drink. Pick up a crayon and draw your own damn masterpiece.
5. When Your Holiday Beverage is Wrong
If you are fighting your barista on the taste of your holiday drink with “The store I usually go to doesn’t make it like this!”, then chances are the store you are usually going to is making it wrong. Baristas typically have very set recipes on specialty beverages, so if they told you that they made it right, it is likely that your usual barista is getting it wrong.
6. You Can’t Negotiate Store Hours
Anyone who has ever opened a coffee shop in the morning is likely aware of the loud thuds of early risers banging on the glass, who feel that opening hours are up for negotiation. Upon reaching the holidays, you would be amazed at how many people feel they should get in earlier or stay beyond store hours “because its Christmas”. Don’t be that guy.
7. We Are Baristas, Not Carollers
Standing in drive-thru to pay off my tuition worked wonders. But at the time, when you’re faced with a van full of carollers who are encouraging you to sing, it can be nauseating. Like, can you just pay and keep driving? Are you aware that there is a line of cars behind you, who are already frustrated by the shopping frenzy this time of year?
8. We Don’t Produce Pastries Upon Demand
The corporation I worked for had pastries shipped in each morning. When you ran out, you either traded items with another franchise nearby, or you survived until the next day. So, it’s hilarious when someone says “Well, can you make more peppermint cake pops?”. Sure lady, give me about forty-five minutes for the batter and the pops to set, and let’s just ignore this entire lineup of people behind you.
9. Baristas Do Not Equal Corporate Office
When a brand makes a shift in core values, customers seem to get this idea that if they complain enough to the minimum wage teams on the front lines, that things will change. Truthfully, we usually just laugh about it later. My favorite was an angry fellow who interpreted that less festive cups meant that we (the baristas) were all anti-Christmas, and proceeded to yell at us personally. Our team was composed of many different lifestyles, so it was kind of awkward for this person to assume that a corporate decision would have any indication of who we were as people.
10. Your Responsibility is Not Our Problem
This would happen all year round, but even more during the holidays. You would think people who are late for events, shopping, engagements or school plays, would maybe skip the coffee line, but you would be wrong. In fact, these are the people who try to rush baristas. Or act as though the baristas are not acting fast enough.
*10 Things Baristas Wish You Knew During the Holidays was originally published by Paige in Thought Catalog.