Top 10 things no one will tell you about coffee baristas

By Kristen Underwood — / Death Wish Coffee Blog

What does a barista do?

They love to make coffee for the cities that love to drink it. That being said, baristas all over are pumping out endless amounts of caffeinated drinks throughout the week to keep their towns running.

Think about it. How many mornings do you wake up and take an oath of silence before you get at least one sip of coffee into your system? Personally, I’ll throw myself under the bus and go with 7 days a week. If you’re trying to start a conversation with me, you’re talking to a wall. Now think about this. Most baristas encounter at least 20 of “me” per hour, every morning of the week.

The real food for thought here: That barista that you’re demanding your sip of life from every morning is giving you that life every single time. Be thankful, people. Everyone you come in contact with is going through something you know nothing about, even that barista behind the counter making your coffee. So, let’s show a little appreciation and dig into some things you may otherwise never know.

1. Not all baristas drink coffee, but most of them have an intense passion for it.

One of the biggest misconceptions about the profession is that it “isn’t a real job.” For a lot of baristas, coffee is their chosen career, especially in specialty cafes. Just like no one goes to Hooters for wings, no one works in a coffee shop because it’s glamorous.


2. It takes a lot of time and patience to perfect latte art.

What, did you think those perfect designs on top of your coffee just poured themselves into the cup by coincidence? Get some coffee and get yourself together. Latte art takes time and patience to master. Acknowledge the art.


3. They’re probably pretty wired.

If you’re a barista and you aren’t taking full advantage of all the free coffee, you’re not doing your job 100% right.


4. Or they’re drinking… something else.

If you’ve ever worked at a coffee shop, you know how rowdy things can get behind-the-scenes. If you see a barista with a lidded cup behind the counter, there’s a 50/50 chance it’s coffee or beer (we're kidding... maybe). But it doesn’t stop there. We have our good ol’ friend CBD coffee as well, which may be a part of the secret menu, depending on the shop you walk into. 

5. Be nice to your barista, or you’ll probably get decaf.

If you’re not nice to them, they won’t be nice to you. A common warning throughout coffee shops referring to rude customers is “DTB” written on the cup. It allegedly means “Decaf that bitch.”

Ever received a coffee that dripped all over you, first sip? It may not have been an accident. If the hole in your lid is lined up with the seam in a paper cup, you’re going to get the drip.

6. Being a barista is very physically demanding.

Making espresso drinks all day long can put you through some rough wear and tear. Say goodbye to your strong joints and say hello to tennis elbow.

7. Baristas compete in coffee competitions.

If you want to be the coffee connoisseur everyone that walks into your cafe expects you to be, it’s going to take a lot of studying, which comes in hand with competitions. There are competitions for everything in the coffee world these days, including latte art, espresso making, or a cappuccino connoisseur! Imagine that award sitting in your living room.

8. Not all coffee language is universal.

Not every coffee shop you walk into is Starbucks. Don’t order a Venti Mocha Frappuccino and expect them to know what you’re talking about. If you’re not at Starbucks, don’t pretend you are. Take some time to look over the respectable menu and order something that’s actually on it.

9. Forty years ago, no one knew what a barista was.

Coffee baristas didn’t exist 40 years ago. Purchasing cups outside of your home didn’t become popular until 1982, which is hard to believe considering you can get it almost anywhere, even out of the back of a truck, now. Talk about a staple to our lives.

10. Coffee baristas are not slackers or hipsters.

Society has painted baristas as those who wear a beanie, thick-rimmed specs, and maybe even have dreadlocks. However, most baristas are college graduates who decided on coffee a coffee career, simply because they’re passionate about the product!

Related: How to get the best service at a coffee shop


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