A latte fun

Life as a barista at Starbucks, while challenging, has its perks

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Geena Kollman

TEA TIME: Bella Taylor (12) mixes a green tea for a customer at the Starbucks on Shea and 90th street. “Most of the customers are really nice, patient, and understanding,” Taylor said. Pumpkin Spice is the most popular Starbucks latte, according to baristas.

Isabella Taylor, Staff writer

PERSPECTIVE

You wake up with your eyes fighting to stay open, so you slug yourself into your car and drive to Starbucks to grab a coffee. Minutes after you order, the barista hands you the drink and off you go.

But have you ever thought about what it’s like on the other side of the counter?

There are a lot of jobs with ins-and-outs that aren’t even considered until after the hire. 

“When I got the job at Starbucks, I thought my main job was making drinks and ringing up orders, but there was a lot more behind the scenes work I never anticipated,” said barista and DM senior Rose Monsif. “Before I started working at Starbucks, I always thought that as a barista, all you do is make drinks during every shift, but that is far from the truth.

“In fact, you can go weeks without making a drink,” she said, “something I never considered”.

When Starbucks workers first arrive at their shift, they never really know what they will be assigned–cooking food, doing the dishes, making drinks, or taking orders are all equally possible. 

When assigned to DTO (Drive-Through Orders), baristas hear a “ding” as cars drive up to the sensor outside. They greet customers through their headset and use the computer and copy down their order, always ensuring to repeat orders before printing stickers for the drinks.

This is typically simple and fun when workers find their rhythm–until a customer mumbles their order or drives right by the drive through speaker.

Other than that, on shifts where you are on DTO, the time passes by quickly and customers are usually happy and excited to talk.

When I got the job at Starbucks, I thought my main job was making drinks and ringing up orders, but there was a lot more behind the scenes work I never anticipated.”

— Rose Monsif

Some days, I am assigned on “front” (this means I take orders placed inside the store, not from the drive-through, and cook food in the ovens). All  food is pre-made and warmed up when requested. If there are no orders to take or food to heat, I spend most of my time helping stock materials, ranging from cups and lids to milk and juice. 

Now for the part of the job that everyone is most curious about: making drinks. This is the part of the job that takes the most training but is arguably the most fun.

Drinks are coming in from the drive-through, from inside the store, deliveries, and from the Starbucks app (ordered ahead of time for a “grab-and-go” order). There are often one or two people “on bar” who are always busy, whethermaking teas, frappuccinos, lattes, or americanos. 

“I was initially really nervous to work at Starbucks because the number of drinks we had to know how to make was daunting and seemed too complicated,” says senior John Candioto. However, after a day or two of training and solely making drinks, baristas quickly learn a routine; each drink seems to have a formula to follow, and baristas who learn the formulas can quickly and easily learn the rest.

There are some downsides to working at Starbucks that I wasn’t anticipating. For instance, there are times where there are no customers at all–or other times when three mobile orders, seven in-store orders, and a huge drive through line of eight cars all are demanding attention.

My expectation of a relatively steady flow of customers quickly dissipated on my first day of working in February. However stressful this can feel, we develop skills over time, such as time management and balance, to manage these hectic days. 

Working at Starbucks can be overwhelming and stressful at times, but the fun coworkers, nice customers, and employee benefits all make the job worthwhile. The benefits? A pound of coffee beans for free every week so we always have gifts for others or coffee for ourselves.

And, of course, free drinks and food