The Secret Life of High School Baristas


Melanie Eszter, Managing Editor

For many people, many people, coffee is a daily necessities and coffee shops are the number one place to get specialty brews. Everyone knows how to order a cup or go through the drive through, but not many people know what it is like to be on the other side of the coffee business: making the coffee.

To ensure that baristas get the training they need they must go in before they begin working at the store and learn all of the material.

“You first learn on the computer and then you actually practice it with the syrups, drinks, and beverages. You had to take a test that had pictures and you definitely got help if you didn’t know what the question was or if you didn’t know what the drink was,” Luis Torres, who has been a Starbucks Barista for two years, said.

Once the trainees learn the beverages they may begin to work at a station.  At each coffee shop employees work at different stations. For example, at Starbucks they have bar, where they make hot drinks and cold bar which makes cold drinks. They also have DTO (stands for drive through order) which is the person who takes the order and then they also have drive through ring which is the person who rings up the orders.

“I’m commonly on bar pretty much like all the time,” Torres said.

At Scooters the stations are register, shots, milk and window.

“I’m on Shots which is how many espresso shots go into one so I have to figure out what kind of sauce or syrup goes into the drink and then how many shots are in it,” Besa said.

Memorization is key to working in the coffee industry as the training focuses on having employees memorize information such as shot counts and how much of each ingredient to put in each drink. Stores even have a policy in which employees must get the drink to a customer within so many seconds after they order it.

“They have everything down to the second, how you grab a cup a certain way and how you do certain things with both your hands. I think it is very stressful; it’s super-fast paced especially because Scooter’s has such a huge thing about the time between when they order and when they get the drink they want to be 90 seconds,” Besa said.

“Once people start adding stuff to it, that’s what makes it more complicated; you do have to memorize but honestly it is really easy because the concept is every latte and every drink is made practically the same way. The only difference is they have different syrups,” Torres said.

The atmosphere tends to be fast-paced during rush hours which can differ for each location but it usually dies down after certain points in the shift.

“The Saturday morning shift, which was my first shift from 7am to noon; it was easily the hardest shift in my life because that was my first time working mornings and there was something going on at every point in the store,” Torres said.

“I work more towards the evening, right after school we get a little busy but once it hits 6 it’ll die down so I have a lot of time to clean everything and it’s not bad,” Besa said.

Although being a barista may sound like fun, some people may find that it is not for them. Hard work ensures that the customer gets their drink at a certain time especially when the order gets more complex.

Another main part of the barista life is dealing with customers, who do not always want to interact.

“Sometimes people don’t really want talk to you and they are just like ‘give me my coffee’ and they leave and they just won’t say anything ‘Oh here is your total’ and they just give you the card’ and you go’ have a great day’ and they just drive off,” Besa said.

“I wish the customers would be more understanding of how it should be when we have a crap ton of customers in the drive-through line. We’re working as hard as we can so you know that’s one thing we definitely wish that people are a little more patient,” Torres said.

Both Scooter’s and Starbucks have regulars who delight the baristas with their presence by always being friendly and striking up daily conversations. During the stressful hours that they endure the baristas are able to bond with their co-workers.

“My favorite thing is probably the environment. I like the people I work with; they are so positive. I can always just laugh, have fun or smile. We like genuinely care for each other so if you’re feeling down we have someone to talk to you,” Torres said.



Melanie Eszter // Managing Editor