9 Lessons Learned from Being a Barista

Saturday, February 28, 2015

As many of you know, I worked as a barista at Starbucks my senior year of college and I worked at Lake Junaluska's coffee shop this past year. Though it wasn't my dream job, I loved making coffee and getting paid for it. I mean, it's me we are talking about!

Every job has it's ups and downs. That's normal. Even though same days were rough, I look back often and realize how much I enjoyed being a barista for that time of my life. I love the knowledge I have about different roasts of coffee, and how to make  a bangin' latte! However, some of the things I went through weren't so fun. Below is a list of things I learned while working as a barista. Any other barista will understand ;)

1.) The customer is NOT always right, but you are paid to act like they are.

2.) My definition of sweet is very different from someone else's definition.

3.) Always ask if the customer is finding exact change...if you don't, they'll give it to you after you've already counted out what to give back.

4.) Milk steamers are hot....

5.) Espresso is much more complicated than it looks.

6.) Starbucks does not serve authentic coffee beverages (I like Starbucks, but it's true).

7.) Everyone compares your coffee to Starbucks.

8.) Coffee syrup is nearly impossible to clean up.

9.) You cannot fit the ingredients for two large Frappuccinos into one blender....don't try :p

As I looked back over this list (which in all honesty cracked me up as I typed), I'm realizing that all nine of these points add up to one major lesson: humility.
I can laugh all I want at silly customers or my futile attempt at blender usage (because it IS funny), but in the end, being a barista taught me that I need to practice being humble. We can't always have our way, I'm not good at everything, and I have to practice at the things I'm not good at (like counting change. ha!).

No matter where you work, you are most likely being taught this same lesson. It's universal, and it's something that none of us really like the idea of. But to become better people - better Christians- we need to let go of our pride and be honest with ourselves. We all could use a little more humility.

Are you being taught the same lesson, regardless of where you work? Can any baristas out there relate? Comment below.


  1. Oh I just love this. Obviously, I am obsessed with coffee. I have several friends who are baristas. Honestly, I know not many people actually like Starbucks coffee, but I do. The bolder the better :)
    So glad I found your blog through the Peony Project. :) YAY NEW FRIENDS.

    1. Yay!
      Thanks for stopping by!
      I don't like Starbucks way of brewing coffee, but I love their specialty drinks (for me, it's the sweeter the better, haha).

  2. I found you through the Peony Project, too! :)
    Working at a coffee shop would not be for me, because I detest both the taste and smell of coffee, but the humility lesson? That's why all of your 9 points sounded so familiar to me due to my former job as a cosmetologist. The details are all different, but the attitude check needed, that's the same across all service professions, I think

    1. Yes, I think so too. I think this would resonate with most people :)

    2. Ps- Thanks for stopping by! It's nice to meet you!

  3. #6 is true! The Starbucks caramel macchiato is not a real caramel macchiato. I worked at a local coffee shop and had to ask everyone who ordered that if they knew what they were ordering. Most people just wanted a fancy caramel latte. lol. I love starbucks too but so agree with you on this one!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by!
      I know! I always had to say "Do you want a traditional macchiato, or a Starbucks macchiato", which was usually followed by blank stares.
      Since I had already worked at Starbucks, I knew what to do it they said "Starbucks", but it always cracked me up.

  4. AH! I was a barista for several years, too! Not at Starbucks, but at several other local coffee shops. We were actually kind of jerks to anyone who came in and ordered using Starbucks terminology...eek!

    1. Haha. That's so funny.
      The only people that made me upset were the ones who thought they new more than us because they go to Starbucks. lol. Otherwise, I didn't mind.

  5. I worked at Dunkin' Donuts for years and will one day own my own coffee shop. I love my Starbucks though, haha. #3 made me crack up! It's so true. Some customers are just impossible. Always make sure they're not just fidgeting around.

    1. Summer, I love Starbucks too, but them (and Dunkin) both make things very differently than local coffee shops. I didn't realize why until I made the switch in jobs. lol.
      I LOVE LOVE LOVE DD's iced coffee! It's the best!