You learn a lot while grinding espresso beans.
I’ve always been a coffee shop fanatic since I was living in UK. I love the smell of freshly-brewed coffee, the background noises of people chatting, and the latte art being made. While I loved coffee shops, I never saw myself working at one.
However, this past year with the coronavirus hit, I found myself working and grinding espresso beans. Despite all the challenges, it was the coolest job I’ve ever had and it taught me a lot. Here are 5 things I would like to share during my process while working in a local coffee shop.
1. Know how to multitask.
Without question, this is the number one skill that saved my life during countless Weekend shifts was my ability to multitask. I had to make waffle mix, assemble, distributing pastries while simultaneously grinding coffee beans, taking over at the register and making witty conversation with regulars waiting in line. I had to make it all look like no big deal, too, because no customer wants to see their favourite barista be sweaty and miserable.
Now, as I juggle thousand-piece direct-mail projects, write and edit proposals and more unread emails than one person should ever see, I find myself accessing the same ability to work my butt off making sure that not a single task falls by the wayside, and keep a smile on my face. (Well, at least until my shift is over.)
2. Learn how to manage people and be creative.
It is likely that whichever job you end up in, there will become a time where you have to manage people. Working in a coffee shop requires excellent communication skills which in turn, can help you to manage, train and learn people more effectively.
Whilst working in a coffee shop is all about being part of a team, there will also be times where you have to lead yourself, which is a great step towards a career or a vision to a new path.
When it comes to managing people, communication is they key. I always tell myself that the way I have always done something is the way it should be done now. A good idea 50 years ago is likely not still a good idea. Be willing to reinvent, change directions, and kill programs for the sake of reaching more and more people.
Patience is a virtue, especially when you’re a barista.
As a barista, the single most important skill you can learn is the ability to be patient and remain calm. This single skill will make your workflow more efficient. It will govern how you perform in almost every situation.
Learning patience will allow us to keep a cool head when the pressure’s on — like when there’s a queue to the door and a row of orders on. It’s what helps us develop the rhythms to avoid complacency. It’s what keeps us grounded enough to avoid mistakes, or to tackle them properly when they inevitably arise. It’s the key to that perfect extraction, that perfectly textured milk, that perfectly poured rosetta, not to mention that perfectly serviced customer or that perfectly clean work-station — it’s the key to the perfect cup.
4. People are depressed and lonely.
I’ve found that I spend multiple hours of my day simply keeping up a conversation with a customer. If they’re not at the coffeeshop to work or stop by for convenience, they’re often just looking for a person to chat with. Saying hi to someone sipping their drink might just make their day.
5. Developing soft skills.
The key to success, then, is the soft skills.
As I said earlier, the big part of your role in a coffee shop will be dealing with the steady trail of customers that come through the door each day. And the undeniable fact is that there are a whole bunch of different people out there and there will be times dealing with different characters. Fortunately, working in a coffee shop quickly teaches you how to adapt to these situations and deal with them efficiently.
As one of my colleague said, “Being a barista isn’t about coffee, it’s about making people happy.” Yes, that starts with a well-made drink, but that’s only the start. Soft skills are what take you to the next level, no matter where you work.
“There’s always something to complain about. Try not to let the good things go unnoticed.”
At the end of the day, if you ask what I have gained the most as a barista, I would definitely say it is witnessing the most amazing thing about humans and interactions. While not every person is the same amount of beautiful, there is beauty in every human being.
If you gain anything from reading this, realise that you have the power to transform someone’s day and that’s basically a superpower if you ask me. Wherever you are, regardless of if it’s hanging out with friends or working overtime, be present. Live with a grateful mindset and a heart of service.