Thursday, December 17, 2009

Integrity as a Barista

There's a customer at my coffee shop who has got the system beat. She always gets a small coffee in a medium cup, which puzzled me until I noticed her at the condiment stand, topping off her cup with cream and sugar. It's a clever tactic to be sure: save a devastating 26 cents while lavishing yourself with four ounces of free product.

At first I was pretty angry, but now I am mostly just saddened this individual places such a low price on her integrity. 26 cents? Heck, I would be happy to buy you a coffee if your finances are that tight.

But it would be hypocritical if I judged this customer's deception without examining my own life. As a barista, am I consistently giving each customer the highest quality beverage possible? What about shots of espresso? Even just plus or minus a few seconds makes a huge difference in taste. How about milk? Motivation to steam microfoam is definitely dampened when it is just going to be smothered by whipped cream, but that doesn't mean I should compromise a single component of the drink.

Perhaps there are implications not pertaining to coffee.


Sarah Cosper said...

Mike and I worked as baristas for 6 years. I was challenged to love those people well, even the pretentious annoying ones who ordered 1 shot vanilla grande non fat caps with no foam. Which doesn't even make since, but she still ordered it like that after I told her what a cap and latte were. I was to show them Christ no matter what. It's a hard job sometimes.

Paul said...

Yeah. Letting the Gospel drive my work as a barista is a struggle, especially serving those who treat you in servile way. Dorothy Sayers described work as the employment of creative energies in service. I tend to not think way, sadly.

Regarding your small in a medium, we have a LOT of people at my store who do that, but I don't think most of them do that for financial purposes as much as they don't like coffee that much. Of course, that would accurately describe a lot of people who order various "there's no way that a combination of splenda, sugar-free syrup, decaf, and skim milk tastes good" drinks.

michael said...

Cappuccino with no foam. simply stunning.

kvg said...

My favorite is this gal who comes in and orders an "extra wet" cappuccino. I mean, that just makes me chuckle.
(I make her a nice, foamy latte, btw)