Greetings to all of you good people! I, Boots the Badass Coffee Babe, have been away — out on a trail gig — and have missed our coffee connection! The past weeks, I’ve been out in the woods, away from any form of Internet communication, and restoring my Inner Outdoors Girl. It has felt great! And now I am back, so we can catch up on coffee. Tell me . . . What have I missed?
While out on the trail, I ran into a hiker, Niccolo, who was a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur from Italy. We got to chatting about travel, trails, and coffee, and Niccolo said that he was curious about a lot of things in America but, once on the topic of Coffee, he asked why American baristas are so under-paid and under-respected. Now, I might not speak Italian, but Niccolo was certainly speaking my language when it came to this conversation!
I really didn’t know how to answer to this — this not being one of those common questions that comes up when you start Coffee Talk. I got to thinking about all of the things that American baristas have to be good at and their many multi-tasking duties. I mean, just look at them. They pull shots, steam milk, make eye contact with customers, do foam art, remember to ask about someone’s job interview, call back the next drink order to the register barista, and hand off your drink with a smile. Impressive!
Now that I am back in town, I went to a busy coffee shop and observed the baristas in action. Let’s take a look at what they have to do to serve an amazing cup of Joe. A good barista . . .
- grinds coffee beans correctly so that the shots aren’t too long or too short
- tamps the grind into the filter perfectly
- pulls good shots
- times shots for high standards
- pumps liquid sugar into cups
- steams milk to satisfy requests (absolutely no foam, light foam, shaving-cream foam, dry cappuccino foam, bone-dry cappuccino foam)
- connects with the customers
- rinses shot glasses
- fills the bean hoppers
- continually re-adjusts the burr grinder to maintain perfect shots
- keeps everything clean and shiny
- re-stocks the refrigerators
- keeps the queue of drinks marching forward
- calls back drink orders
- works both the hot bar and the cold bar
- draws a cute smiley-face on certain cups
- asks about the family to the customers they know well
- smiles at you when s/he hands off your drink
- . . . and I know that there are many other things . . .
This is a heck of a lot plates to keep spinning — all while maintaining a pleasant demeanor. Now that I, Boots the Badass Coffee Babe, am back in town, I want to give a big shout-out to all of you baristas who work so hard to perfect your craft and to serve us fabulous beverages that many of us could never dream of making at home.
Just saying! It makes me think of when I was young, pretty impressionable, flat broke, and just starting to work for someone who was eking out an existence on a history-laden homestead that he had inherited from someone who was as old as dirt. The history of the place was pretty amazing and this old guy certainly knew it. He was cocky and demanding and expected me to be his personal barista. Well, I tamed that idea right out of him.
Sure, I was willing to haul the water from the lake and start the fire in the cookstove. And I was even willing to grab a mug from the cupboard and set it to warm on the warming trivet. But make the coffee? Nuh-uh. I knew that once I got roped into that lasso, I was going to be on call every morning at oh-dark-thirty to meet this buckaroo’s caffeine demands.
It’s weird to think that I wasn’t a coffee drinker yet. I opted for healthful options that involved herbs and botanicals that now don’t even smell that good if I now catch a whiff of them brewing. And this old-timer used the strangest contraption for making coffee. He said it operated on a vacuum system that involved some elaborate siphoning. He expected me to learn how to use it and produce damned-good coffee, but I feigned ignorance (which was genuine) and confounded his expectations by making the very worst coffee (which was a ruse — I was smart enough to figure it out) that he swore — and I mean swore [#@$&*$$@!] had ever had the first day on the job. I’ll give it up for the guy for having a colorful vocabulary.
I would call this a Big Life Lesson: There are benefits to Being Inadequate . . . this becoming a carefully-executed skill set of feigned ignorance that I happily applied to other areas of my professional life such as how to un-clog the paper in the copier machine on campus, how to clean the yuck out of the microwave in the break room, and how to sharpen a chain saw. Some things are simply better left to those who feel more inclined toward responsibility. And to showing others their higher state of abilities. Thank God for different personality types is all that I am saying.
You’ve got to check out this old timer’s crazy way to make coffee below. This gentleman’s contraption looked more Frankenstein-ian than this modern and sleek version, but it is the very same concept. Who would have thought that you could extract coffee via a siphon? Weird, right? Go to Amazon by clicking on the images/links below:
and how about this lower-priced one . . .
AND . . . tip your barista. As Niccolo pointed out, they are under-paid and under-tipped. Your barista is partly responsible for your morning happiness . . . why not reciprocate with at least a very nice smile and a “Good job!”
Oh, and one more thing. I am so excited to be back, I can’t stop adding coffee stuff!
Check out this new organic, Arabica coffee I found on Amazon. I am going to try it out! The name alone sells me — Happy Belly — let alone that it is organic, sustainably sourced and Fairtrade!
PREMIUM COFFEE BY HAPPY BELLY
Happy Belly makes artisan, small batch roasted blends like those found at your favorite neighborhood coffee shop, conveniently delivered to your doorstep. From growing and harvesting to roasting and packaging, ensuring our coffee’s freshness and flavor is our main focus.
Life is a darn good event. Have fun, drink coffee, and tip your barista!!