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My Afternoon as a Starbucks Barista

Chaotic as things may appear behind a Starbucks counter, every drink is made custom and to order in a systematic, organized way. I know this because I spent an afternoon as a Starbucks barista. Laurel Village Starbucks store manager Deanna Barbagiovvanni put me to work yesterday behind the espresso machines.

The trickiest part of being a barista is deciphering the code on the side of a Starbucks cup. It was like trying to read an unknown foreign language. "That's a nonfat, two-pump white mocha," Deanna said, reaching for espresso shots, as I stood there, still trying to make sense of the notations. Customers rarely place orders for standard drinks, she explained: "One girl comes in every day and orders a venti Coffee Frappuccino with a grande scoop of ice, double blended, with light whip and just a little chocolate drizzle." Find out what else I learned and check out a video of me as barista when you read more.

It's very easy to make a mess. Thankfully, baristas employ a few tricks: If a cup runneth over, simply put another cup on top of it to cover up the mess. Too much whipped cream or foam to put the lid on? Taking the first cap off removes most of the foam or whip, and the second lid'll be the charm.

After making scores of beverages like the one in the clip above, I left feeling a little more confident about my coffee-making skills — but mostly, with a greater appreciation for those people who make coffee to my specifications every morning. It's not as easy as it looks! Does being a barista at Starbucks sound like a challenging job to you?


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Join The Conversation
beanie1985 beanie1985 6 years
I think that most jobs that people consider as "easy" are anything but. I have nothing but respect for anyone making anything that I will be ingesting into my body, haha, for a number of reasons. I work in retail, and it is really, truly amazing how people thing it is an easy job...when it is anything but easy. Plus, all of us are college educated but I can't tell you how many people think we are stupid -- when that's so far from the truth (95% of us are college educated/graduated). I can't truly say that for all of our customers.... Anyway, case-and-point, nothing is as easy as it sounds or looks, and I think that no matter the job, the person performing it deserved so much respect.
Rancher'sGirl Rancher'sGirl 6 years
I used to be one of those high maintaince people..then one day I really listened when my order was repeated back to me. Now the baristas look at me perplexed when I order a plain Venti drip coffee. They keep waiting for me to add more to my order. Nope, just a drip coffee, thanks. :)
ashleyamoeba ashleyamoeba 6 years
#8 - I work at Starbucks, and I think we have more to deal with because people expect more out of Starbucks. No offense to indie coffee house baristas, but I go in expecting mediocre service. At Starbucks you have a certain environment, speed, and quality you expect. Customers expect everything out of Starbucks employees. It gets frustrating at times.
Chicagomarie Chicagomarie 6 years
I was a Barrista at Cariibou coffee for a year and it was the most stressful job ever. I work the AM shift and people get very pissy that early. Many people talk down to you and/pr treat you like you don't exist. I've eve had a customer insist I run across the street to drop off and pick up her dry cleaning since she had to run to work...oh, I'd get 5 bucks for doing it....really? People tip th poor college/grad/starving artist barristas!
Spectra Spectra 6 years
That looks like it'd be a cool job, but I'd probably get a little frustrated if I had to deal with impatient people who want their coffee ASAP all morning.
Marci Marci 6 years
Nice job.
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 6 years
You don't look anything like your avatar... then again, neither do I... ;)
KWM KWM 6 years
very cool insider reporting!
arcticpuppet arcticpuppet 6 years
interesting! it does always seem so crazy and disheveled behind the counter. i don't think i would be able to do it, and i love espresso!
MartiniLush MartiniLush 6 years
Great video! If you ever get tired of working at Sugar, you could definitely start a second career as a barista! :P
Beauty Beauty 6 years
Great job — I love the video and pictures!!
Soniabonya Soniabonya 6 years
It is. My girlfriend worked as a barista for about 8 years, since highschool. She'd come to school after a morning shift on a caffine buzz so high that she'd be bouncing off the walls, but that was the only way she could stay awake after waking up pre 4am to open the doors. Remembering all the lingo, being patient with irritable customers, overseeing new employees, she was our barista goddess by the time she left Starbucks. I never envyed her, but I knew for the most part, she had a good time. Besides, I'm a tea drinker ;)
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