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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

So, What's Your Job Like?

Let's talk about what I actually do at my job for a second here. After a few days with family (i.e. people who care about me and are interested in my well-being and ask MANY questions), I realized I should probably explain more about my job so that I can prevent repeating myself many times over when I inevitably run into people I haven't seen in a while. So here's some straight talk, no sugar-coating.

I am the only person who works at my coffee shop who is not a student at OU (or who is not the owner). Apparently I am a scheduler's dream, because I have no classes, no kids, no life, and want a lot of hours. Right now I'm working about 30-40 hours a week, and will probably be working more as finals and winter break start happening.

our fancy (and shiny) espresso machine

So here's what I do:
-I run the register and make sure I'm friendly to everyone--regulars, grumpies, people on their phones, people running late, chatterboxes, awesome people, old classmates, people whose names I cannot remember. A lot of times people are super happy when you ask how they are, or double-check all those little idiosyncracies that people have about coffee drinks (room for cream? milk preference? want me to rinse your cup? we also have some sugar-free syrups...etc.). Super happy people = money in my tip jar.
-When it's not too busy (or when it's slammed and we need two sets of hands) I do espresso drinks for practice. That entails getting the right amount/combo of syrups and sauces, steaming/foaming milk, pulling espresso shots, and, my Everest, batching drinks. Tons of little things go into espresso drinks--making sure you aren't foaming the milk too much, making sure the shots aren't pulling too long or too short (aka bitter and nasty), using the right pitcher to avoid cross-contamination, stirring without spilling, delivering without spilling, not burning the crap out of yourself.
-Sometimes I do the cold drinks, which are WAY easy. It's just measuring and combining--seriously no guesswork. Cold drinks are very consistant because we make cold brew espresso that will always steep for 24 hours, and also we use a powder in our frozen drinks that makes them blend very well and taste like delicious, delicious sugar.
-When we are not busy at all, I restock. We have to make sure we are good to go on cups, sleeves, milks, teas, sugars, creamers, brewed coffee, beans, pastries, muffins, sandwiches, bottled drinks, napkins, utensils, bagels, straws, stirrers, syrups, bananas, sauces, lids, change, ice, whipped cream, iced tea, and so on. Also wiping down counters, doing dishes as we go, cleaning the espresso machine, rinsing pitchers/blenders, picking up trash and mugs, and sweeping outside.

You're on your feet all the time. It's definitely hot behind that big machine. People are mostly nice, but sometimes not. You burn yourself a lot, and you spill milk/milky water/syrup allll over the place including yourself.

so sticky, so delicious

It was really hard at first. I never knew what I was doing, and I would make stupid errors just from my ignorance of coffee lingo or the most efficient way of doing things. Like when someone orders a "double-skinny" latte, that's not a double shot, that means skim milk and sugar free syrup. And you should steam your milk first so the espresso doesn't sit around waiting for too long and lose it's crema top. And you should use gloves instead of tongs when you're restocking the scones because they break a lot. And if you are imputing a discount, the machine will take it off of whatever you just put in, not the total order (so if you added an extra shot, that's $0.60, but if you put in a $1 discount, it will just make the extra shot $0, and not take off the other $0.40). However, I've gotten a LOT better. I rarely get corrected anymore on the hot bar, and when I do, usually I have an explanation for why I'm doing what I'm doing (using the same spoon to stir two separate drinks, but both drinks are the same).

Already I have favorite things to do at work (restocking the cup sleeves, making drinks with whipped cream, brushing spilled grounds into the trash, cleaning the steam wands) and least favorites (washing airpots, refilling syrups, restocking pastries, using the hot water thingy on the espresso machine because it sputters and is about 180 degrees). Despite aching feet and early hours, it's a pretty fun job. There are people to talk to, we listen to (mostly) good music, and it's kind of fun. People love coffee, so when you hand them coffee, usually they are very happy, and then they like you because you are providing that joy! The job is not without its pet peeves, and it can be frustrating at times, especially when there is a huge line and everyone seems to be ordering the same type of drink, creating bottlenecks. Overall, I'm very glad I have this job, and I'm learning a lot. One of the best parts, especially after working in the non-profit sector, is that nothing from this job comes home with me, except usually a delicious coffee drink!

pumpkin caramel pecan...starbucks ain't got nothing on me
Like I said, stop in and see me sometime, and don't be afraid to ask for recommendations. I've tasted a LOT of things, and I know what is good and what is less good. Also, I am working on making pretty designs in the foam, but mostly I just fill up the cup too much and then, you know, disaster. So don't expect miracles, people.

1 comment:

  1. That is beautiful latte. I will only get lattes when i stay in the store because I hate putting a to-go top on them and not being able to enjoy the beautiful design.

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