Let’s be honest: baristas are insanely cool. Wearing a plaid shirt, rolled-up sleeves, hip apron, horn-rimmed eyeglasses while confidently and artistically performing a series of tasks to pull off the best espresso shots with latte art, there’s simply a unique sense of glory to being a barista. Yet, not many are aware of the many difficulties and struggles of taking this role.
Learning how to make coffee isn’t the only hurdle. You might be surprised that bad things also accompany the job. So, if you’re contemplating sending your CV to your favorite coffee shop, here are some things you should know about how hard it is to be a barista.
1. Grumpy customers
Don’t get us wrong. There are many truly understanding and polite customers. Yet some grumpy customers may enter the door to ruin your day. For instance, not all would be very accepting if you run out of their favorite chocolate croissants or pecan tarts. Expect to hear some rants, like they’ve been craving it all day, while others would throw boorish, straight Nos if you try to offer them the available options.
Of course, some customers also don’t pack a lot of patience, screaming about their vanilla latte when you still have a line-up of a dozen drinks before their order. Though it’s often tempting to remark back, remember that you have to be more understanding and a better person. Don’t take things personally and avoid saying anything back.
Baristas are among the most overworked occupations. You will have to clean, run back and forth, meet the endless waves of customers, and make their drinks. And, that’s for your entire shift, sometimes even giving you just little-to-no time for eating and quick relaxation. It’s quite ironic that you’d be exhausted while others enjoy jazz music, sip their coffee, and indulge in tasty pastries. You just have to carry on and let your passion fuel you, always ensuring that everything’s running okay and that no customer leaves your establishment unhappy.
3. Early mornings
Though people need it any time of the day, coffee is just so good in the morning. With that, you need to wake up early, even during the coldest mornings, to serve people and satisfy their appetite. It can be a struggle if you’re a night person or an insomniac, doing your best to don that smile and greet all the coming customers. Yet, you can get used to it, and along with proper adjustments, you’d be ready to help each caffeine-deprived individual visiting your store.
4. Extremely complicated orders
Tall, half-sweet chocolate Americano peanut-free with honey and 5 pumps of vanilla? Venti, no whip, stirred caramel macchiato with extra vanilla drizzle at 100 degrees? Tall blended Hazelnut Frappuccino Mocha with 5 percent foam? Tall Ristretto with 2 pumps Hazelnut Cappuccino at 120 degrees with 4 pumps of sugar-free syrup? Just be ready to bring your A-game taking down customers’ orders as baristas usually hear extremely complicated orders. If you missed one, don’t hesitate to ask them again to get their exact order and avoid any complaints once they start sipping their drinks.
5. People unsure of what to order
Some people know their coffee by heart, but there are others who are yet to learn more about coffee and discover their favorites. Some people don’t even know the drink sizes, the espresso and ristretto, or how drinks are actually made. There are only ones who simply base their orders on what they saw in the movies or what they have heard from their colleague. Sure, they can take time to order or ask a few questions. That’s perfectly fine. Just devote extra patience and rather use it as an opportunity to help others find the drink that best suits their taste.
6. Physical challenges
A busy setup in the hospitality and service industry can be physically demanding. Chances are you’d be on your feet for long hours straight during your shift whilst doing all your tasks. Fatigue, sore legs and feet, knee and ankle pain, neck, back, and wrist aches, and repetitive muscle strain are common conditions you might feel, especially during busy periods. That’s why it’s important to always keep yourself fit, eat healthily, and be aware of the necessary precautions to mitigate all the physical stresses and risks that come with the job.
7. It’s a science
It may look easy for baristas, but coffee-making is actually complicated, a science you need to learn and train for. Some establishments allow new hires to facilitate that espresso machine directly, while some are stricter, looking for additional requirements and experience.
For instance, coffee shops may ask you to work as a cashier first for some time before they see you fit to be promoted as a barista. Prior to that, you may also need to take coffee-making history and science classes at a roastery for a better understanding and knowledge of the craft. Not to mention that there are also the training sessions and certification exams you need to pass.
8. Making messes
Whether it’s spilling the vanilla syrup, dropping a few coffee grounds on the table, or pouring the drink outside the cup it’s supposed to go into, expect to make a lot of messes, especially during those morning rushes or your early days. Sometimes, these mistakes are inevitable with all the tasks to do at once. Don’t dwell on it, as other baristas have dealt with these struggles, too! Clean up them, charge it to experience, and just strive to better the next time around.
Although being a barista has its difficult parts, don’t be discouraged as there are also many bright sides to having this amazing job. From seeing the smiles on your customers’ faces as you serve them their favorite delicious coffee, creating personal bonds with your regular visitors, establishing a family with your co-workers to receive the warm “thank yous” and complements, all bad points will be replaced with pure joy in heart, making you feel like you’re a being a barista isn’t working but rather a privilege that you must cherish.