Originally Posted: 2005-08-18 12:17pm
The Care and Feeding of Your Barista
Here are some tips (or rules, if you prefer) to make your relationship with your friendly neighborhood barista a little smoother for us both. And when I say friendly, I mean friendly. I know this is Wicker Park, but don’t drop your jaw on the floor when I make eye contact, when I smile, and say “hi, how are you?” in a sincere manner before I ask you what kind of drink you want. I might be taking your money from you, but that doesn’t mean that A). I’m not a person with feelings, or B). you’re not a person, presumably with feelings as well. I’m sure you can understand that me temporarily occupying the place behind this cash register does not make me The Man, anymore than you occupying the place in front of this cash register makes you My Bitch. Now that we have this established, to Rule Number One:
1).You see this bar between us? Pretend I’m a bartender, about to hand you a delicious, brimming-cold alcoholic drink, and return my smile and salutation. Even if you don’t mean it. Even if you don’t drink. Slainte, you shit. Cheers. It’s good practice for when you are forced to remove those ridiculous plastic earrings and venture out into the world beyond the one you currently inhabit—where, you may be surprised to learn, there are cool, interesting people worth getting to know who might have to wear khakis and sit at a computer for part of their day.
Keep in mind that although it may not be alcohol, the drink I am about to hand you is delicious, possesses an ancient and unimpeachable pedigree (like the 14th century, bitches), is chock-full of the worlds’ most popular drug, and, like alcohol, gives you a nice kick in the ass. Also, like alcohol, it goes well with your fucking cigarette. I know you don’t roll your eyes and smirk at your bartender—or at least you shouldn’t, you ingrate—so don’t roll your eyes and smirk at me. The word “barista” derives from the Italian term for “bartender,” so remember this linguistic tidbit the next time you order a coffee and act right to me, asshole.
2). I have a real espresso machine, and I pull real shots. This espresso machine is so painfully *real* that people come and take pictures of it for books and consulting purposes and shit. You, who are of course keeping it as real as it can possibly be kept, should understand. Do you see any flashing buttons back here behind my counter: Press Here for Caramel Macchiato? No, you don’t, because there aren’t any, and I don’t even know what the fuck a Macchiato is.
It’s two o’clock in the afternoon, I KNOW you don’t have a job because you sit in here smoking cheap tobacco and sketching scary cartoons no matter what shift I am working, so don’t fucking tap your impatient little toe at me if your shots pull a little fast and I make you a few new ones after adjusting my grind or my method of tamping. Go sit down, roll your shit, and I will *bring* you your drink. Isn’t that amazing? You see, cocksucker, although I may only be “barista-ing” during graduate school and not as a career, I *do* take pride in my work, and I *do* want you to enjoy your non-bitter espresso, since I have to see you every single day. You should A). appreciate that, and B). get a job so you can understand what it means to strive for better performance even though you make Dick-Balls an hour. It builds character. If you don’t like character, there’s a Starbucks next door.
3). In addition to my coffee-making duties, like most baristas, I have other duties as well. These include making smoothies and/or shakes, and serving desserts. This Rule applies mostly to vegans, so those of you who are non-vegan may wish to skip ahead to Rule Number Four.
Still with me? Vegans, I used to be a cook. Not only that, but I was professionally trained as one, i.e., I hold a degree in this shit. I could explain to you why dairy substitutes do not taste or behave like real dairy does from both A). a scientific standpoint, and B). a psychological one, but I will refrain from doing that, because like most professional, kind-hearted people, I admire your restraint, and I respect your choices, dietary and otherwise. So don’t complain to me that your soy-based chocolate doesn’t taste “right.” I know it doesn’t taste right, you punk-ass, it’s made from SOY. As in soy beans.
Soy beans, although wonderful and nutritious, are not CHOCOLATE. They are low in fat and oil, unlike chocolate, which is a complex substance bolstered by copious amounts of fat, and as we all know: fat equals flavor. That soy chocolate? It tastes as artificial as it is. I can refer you to some ice creams that are meant to be made with soy, or other kinds of beans, and as a result are tasty; unfortunately, we don’t serve those here.
On the same tip, don’t even MENTION that a shake or smoothie made with dairy substitutes doesn’t “taste creamy.” What part of the word “cream” don’t you understand, you self-righteous, leg-warmer wearing fuck? In order to make something “taste creamy,” it has to have “cream” in it, in some way, shape, or form. That is even a law in some countries, such as France. And while I’m at it, let me just bring this up. If, as a vegan, you are not willing to GIVE UP these foods whole-hog (pardon), and so you spend large amounts of your life searching for substitutes for these foods, then why are you a vegan? Practice what you preach and eat a peach, you dick. They’re in season.
So why don’t you let me make you a fruit smoothie, which is absolutely delicious, and contains no ingredients masquerading as other ingredients? Why do you persist in ordering a soy-milk latte? Why don’t you learn to drink real coffee, like a grown-up? Why, in fact, do you protest these foods—like milk, honey, and butter—that are, and always have been, given freely by the animal? If you want to protest the fucking deplorable, reprehensible agribusiness sector in the United States, go right ahead—blow up a fucking factory farm! Hell, I’ll even do it with you! But the powers-that-be that you are trying to rail against with your ill-studied, quasi-vegan tendencies don’t give a shit about what you eat or don’t eat. But I *do* give a shit, so don’t come in here talking about “it doesn’t taste creamy.”
4). That graduate degree I am working towards? Well, it’s in Hospitality. That’s right: I am hospitable for a LIVING. Hotels, and restaurants, and bars, and food, and drinks, and customers SUCH AS YOURSELF are what I fucking LIVE for. That’s why I work long hours on my feet doing menial-ass shit such as picking up spilled toothpicks from the floor, peeling potatoes, or wiping ashtrays. It is my life’s goal to improve the conditions that we hospitality workers exist under—and many, if not most of you, know what I am talking about. Our profession should be a dynamic, respected, well-compensated one so that we can ALL live better—not just us, but our customers as well. Some restaurant employees may spit out phrases such as: “You ladies have a good day!” or even the much-maligned “Hi! How are you?” with no feeling behind them—indeed, without even realizing the words are coming out of their mouths. That’s not me. So tip, motherfucker. I would do it for you.