This is one of my biggest and best experiences ever..
Around 2 years back, I decided to look at the coffee culture from another angle. Not by being a customer of a coffee shop for an entire day and observing people, but by being a barista myself and actually serving the customers.
It was something so new that I had never imagined what would it feel like to be on the other side of the table. I took orders, received cash payments, made coffee, cleaned tables, washed utensils and observed people.
The life had suddenly become so much happening. I had stories, incidents and accidents to narrate everyday.
I learnt coffee
Making coffee is an art. And it requires practice. An awesome coffee implies perfect brewing, right boiling of milk, correct way of pouring and a nice way of serving. I was taught everything. The types of coffees, difference between a latte and a mocha, kinds of coffee beans and a lot more.
I was given a training book, and there were surprise tests. Suddenly there would be a visit by the area manager who would politely ask me,
Hey Ayushi! Can you make me a cappuccino?
And I would be scared because I would know that this is my exam.
My friends’ priceless reactions
This was insanely funny. As I started telling my friends about it, there were amazing reactions. Some of them got shocked, others thought I was crazy. One of them thought I was doing it for some extra income.
My roommates and few friends would often drop by as customers so that I could practice taking orders, talking politely and serving nicely. And then they would give me feedback so that I could improve. There were often surprise visits by them that would delight me so much.
Taking a head-on experience of the service industry
Boy! Service industry is extremely tough. You could be standing for the whole day, you have to deal with immense pressure during peak hours, you have to be extremely quick because everybody is in hurry, you are not allowed to do mistakes, and you have to be polite all the time no matter what you have been going through the whole day.
And yet! The pay is super less. Maybe these are the standards, but I personally felt that they deserve to earn more.
Interactions with customers
I don’t think I can do justice to this point in a single medium post. There were way too many good as well as bad episodes. Some people were extremely polite, others were outrightly rude. Customers come in all shapes and sizes, and coffee shops are the best places to see that. I have seen startup founders doing pitches and demos in front of senior people (angel investors?), or making plans to Goa with friends, or sitting silently in a corner with their laptops. Everybody had his own story.
A customer shouted at me to the extent I felt like crying, another one was patient even when I dropped 8 big cups of cappuccino take-away. I was seeing so much everyday!
Being humble and grounded
This was one of the biggest takeaways from my job as a barista. I learnt how to be nice to people even when they are not-so-nice to you. I made great friends with my peers who shared their struggles in life. It made me realize how important it is to respect each and every job, treat everyone nicely and be able to step within somebody else’s shoes.
Being a barista is one hell of a ride. I consider it as my biggest achievement and I feel a sense of pride for having such amazing experiences on my plate. And of course, I now have hundreds of stories to tell to my kids! 😉