Coffee and so much more...

Barista: A person who makes the world happy by providing amazing coffee and great listening support. 

I think the world is addicted to coffee.  When I hear someone tell me they hate coffee I cannot comprehend what they are saying.  To not love coffee?  It is almost like saying you are not human.  Am I right?  I drink coffee every day, without fail.  This unending addiction began about three years ago when I started my job of being Bristol’s best barista.  I made coffee, I was surrounded by coffee, it was a dream come true.  What better way to make money?  Most people don’t know that when you become a barista there is this invisible sign above your head that says “Hey, come talk to me about your problems.”  Or maybe I hung that there myself, because I am a people person.  No doubt about that.  I love to hear about people’s lives and share stories, so this was probably the best job for me.  Make coffee and talk to people.  My life was made.  I developed amazing relationships with so many diverse people; there is no way to describe it except that I was a “day time bar tender.”  You get your regular customers that you come to know on first name basis and also get to know about everything else; like their job, problems, life, pets, family, thoughts…probably some things I didn’t want to know in the first place.  But as much as they adored me and my coffee, I adored them.  I would have regular conversations with each customer, getting to know more about them each time they came in.  I actually met one of my best girlfriends through that job.  She was a college student that came on a regular basis to study.  She would get tea and then sit and study for hours.  We found out that we had the same middle name and for some reason that sparked a connection.  After that when I wasn’t busy I would stand at her table and we would talk.  I ended up being invited to her wedding and we still keep in touch even though she lives in Florida now.

      One of my favorite customers was this older couple that came in every Sunday morning for their coffee and just to see me.  (It was convenient that my schedule was always consistent, so my regulars knew when to come in)  We would talk and catch each other up on our weeks.  They became my adopted grandparents.  When they found out I was leaving they gave me a going away present and retrieved my new address so they could send me a Christmas card.  A Christmas card!  How often does this happen to you at your job?

   I had this other customer, an older gentleman, that came in one day, it was actually a few days after Michael Jackson had died.  I say this because when he ran his credit card, his name popped up on the screen and it read “Michael Jackson.”  This man had no resemblance to the great MJ, which is probably a good thing in some ways, but I was astounded by the irony.  You know those moments where your mouth moves faster than your brain can compute?  Well this happened to me, I blurted out, “Your name is Michael Jackson!?”  I wasn’t making fun or trying to be rude, I was surprised and almost awed.  The man got very annoyed and released a large sigh.  He then mumbled, “Oh great.”  Apparently I was not the first to comment on his similar name to the great King of pop.  I sincerely apologized and completed the transaction in utter embarrassment hoping right then that I could have just melted into the floor.  Or at least thought before I spoke, that would have been nice.  Anyways, he kept coming in week after week to get his coffee.  Treated me like I was the worst person on earth, but I treated him like every other customer.  I even attempted to make small conversation in hopes to smooth over our little episode.  He got the same drink every time, a 20 oz gingerbread latte.  I would see him walk through the door and have the latte practically ready before he reached the counter.  I think he started to appreciate this gesture because he started to soften.  Let’s stop here for a second:  I think one important part of a barista job is to remember what people order.  They love when you can say what they want before they can.  It has always been my goal in life to become one of these customers where I can walk into a place and the person behind the counter knows exactly what I want.  This hasn’t happened…because usually I order something different every time or I get a different person.  Yeah, that would only happen to me.  The one person that actually cares about becoming a “regular.”  Ok getting back on track:  Eventually I broke the ice and we had always had a nice conversation when he came in.  He was a huge history buff, so I always brought that up and that set him off.  He wouldn’t shut up for another fifteen minutes while he talked about his passion and there I stood listening.  Mission accomplished.

    I held the power to people’s days, whether they would be good or not.  Most people cannot function without their morning coffee.  I am one those people.  I was the one giving out the beloved caffeine; I was the one putting a smile on their face.  I may be exaggerating, but still, it’s a fun thought.  Coffee isn’t just caffeine to me though; I seriously can enjoy a good cup of coffee simply because I love the taste and aroma.  Coffee is like this “buzz” word.  I think it is really what makes the world go round and if you think so too, let me know.  I honestly think there are two kinds of people in the world, ones that love coffee and ones that don’t.  Those who don’t are probably smarter (and taller) than us coffee drinkers.  But either way I cannot give up that rich, dark, amazing, yummy, hot beverage that keeps truck drivers awake through the night and everyone else happy.  P.S. I read somewhere that more than half of Americans drink coffee on a regular basis.