Confessions of a Part-Time Barista

Written by Cate Tynjala

Everyone loves their daily dose of caffeine, especially the baristas who make your coffee. AE Cate Tynjala shares her thoughts and experiences as a part-time barista.

Happiness is coffee and a good book


Although my family might claim otherwise, I am not lazy. However, I would say that I am, or tend to be, a serial procrastinator. If my interest is not piqued by a given task, I will conjure up creative, time-sensitive alternatives that are more worthy of my attention. So, suffice it to say, everyone who knew me was surprised when I voluntarily applied for a job the night of my sixteenth birthday. I was lucky enough to not be required to work at a young age. My parents always told my sister and me that school was our job. And yet, at midnight of the day I turned sixteen, I sat down and applied for a position as a barista.


I am 18 now, and I have worked at coffee shops for a little over two years. I worked first at a popular chain coffee shop, and then at a local, family owned shop. Here is a list of things that I, as a part-time barista, have learned, experienced, and encountered.

The angry customer:

No matter where you are or what you do, you will always encounter rude people. Maybe they’re in a rush or just having a bad day, but for whatever reason, you will always experience at least one rude customer. A majority of the people whom I have worked with would say that they just want to make sure that the customer enjoys their drink and has a pleasant experience. When the customer is happy, so are you. I, too, am not much fun before my first cup of coffee in the morning. As fellow coffee addicts understand, it takes that first cup (or pot) to really get you moving. But please, be kind.


Baristas are humans too: we make mistakes

The following is something that I have encountered a lot in my last two years as a barista. I understand that people like their coffee their way. As your baristas, we are more than willing to make that triple-shot, no-foam, soy, sugar-free vanilla latte at exactly 120 degrees for you. We just want you to have something that you like. No one likes bad coffee. However, sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes in the middle of a rush when there is a line out the door and every table is full, we forget things. Whether it be forgetting to give you extra whipped cream or even giving you the wrong drink, it is never intentional. Politely let your barista know, and they will be more than glad to make you what you asked for.                    


Not sure what you want? Talk to us

As a barista and coffee lover, I understand the healing powers of the perfect cup of coffee. I also understand that sometimes you want to change up your order, but you aren’t sure exactly what it is that you want or what to call it. Luckily, baristas know what is best to drink wherever they are working. So talk to us! Ask questions. Tell us if you want something sweet, something simple, or something strong.


When you work in customer service, you really strengthen and gain interpersonal skills. Working as a barista, although sometimes unexpectedly stressful, has taught me a lot. The most important lesson being that everyone should work in customer service at some point in their lives.