18 Confessions Of A Former Starbucks Barista

Even though I am scarred, I will forever go back to this establishment to enjoy a nice cup of Tazo Green Tea.

1. Dealing with customers is usually a pleasant experience, but occasionally, we would get someone who thinks we are dumb as nails and treat us like we were their butlers. A woman one time literally commanded me to put in three ice cubes into her drink. Three. No more, no less. Another time, this woman asked me to make her a whey protein shake using our blenders. She handed me a packet of the whey and said, “Put this into my drink.”

2. Good managers would actually be on the floor making drinks with the staff, but bad managers would hide in the back, doing what they do, and not build team camaraderie. (We hated those kinds of managers.)

3. Starbucks uses vanilla soy milk as the milk substitute. We don’t have control over what type of milk (or any ingredients that go into a drink) will be shipped to our stores. Plenty of people have asked, “When are you getting almond milk?” as if I have control over what comes and goes in the store. (Hint: we don’t!)

Flickr / Piutus
Flickr / Piutus

4. Markouts are really nice, especially if you have a cup of coffee every morning. It basically allows us to take a bag of coffee home for free.

5. You can use markouts at other Starbucks! And if you’re really nice about it, baristas will throw in something extra, because you’re part of the Starbucks family (and know all-too-well about the stuff you deal with as a barista).

6. We had to go through the Starbucks training regime even if we had previous experience with making drinks (and it is a boring, boring process). Also, the Starbucks espresso machine is actually a pseudo-espresso machine. The machine steams the milk for you until it gets to the proper temp and all you have to do for the espresso is push a button.

7. The amount you were paid per hour depended on the location of the store. I have some friends who made $7.90 per hour to $9.25 an hour — and they were both baristas. That’s a fairly large discrepancy, if you ask me.

8. Okay, so you might say, “You guys make tips, you can make up the rest with that,” but tips, my friends, are variables. It’s based on how long you’ve worked and the tip is distributed amongst the staff at the end of the week. So theoretically, if you worked 30 hours, you might get away with $30 to $60 in tips. But that all depends on the location of the store. If you’re in a highly tourist area, you might get no tips. I have friends who got $7 in tips for the entire week. We can’t live on this. Simply put, Starbucks makes it seem like tips are this huge added bonus, but they are so variable that it would be ridiculous to work there just for that.

9. At the Starbucks I worked at, on Black Friday, we would be in the store 2 hours before the Black Friday open time to get ready for the rush.

10. Holiday rush is probably one of the most frustrating and flustering times at bar. Long lines, irritated and stressed customers, means rushed drinks and crowded stores. We’re really trying to help you relieve your stress! Stop taking it out on us!

Flickr / sean_oliver
Flickr / sean_oliver

11. The “trainings” were kind of dumb. We really didn’t learn a whole lot about coffee. It was just memorizing what kind of flavors the coffee would pair with mainly to sell the food items with the coffee.

12. Sometimes, we had to meet a quota to meet to sell in-store items and occasionally, coffee. It was always a push to sell things.

13. At bad stores, employees that came to work regularly would not get written up, leaving the ones that actually came on time to run the floor by themselves, and this really sucked during morning rush. This led to really unmotivated coworkers and widespread disgruntlement. Knowing there were no repercussions to tardiness meant people came and went as they pleased.

14. When we get really long orders, we will do them one-by-one, as to not get confused with the order. It would be really appreciated if people would stop adding to the order when we are in the middle of making drinks.

15. We were frequently told to kick out loiterers (especially the homeless). It really sucked, because you know they have no place else to go, and they’re only at the store because it’s warm. Some were really hostile to the patrons, which obviously was bad for business.

Flickr / Esparta
Flickr / Esparta

16. The Starbucks hat had to be worn at all times, even though they really didn’t do anything to prevent hair from falling into the drinks 100% of the time.

17. I can’t remember a time a barista has said, “I don’t mind when the customer just stands in front of the register wondering what drink to get, even though they’ve been in line.” Because no barista has ever said that.

18. The turnover rate at Starbucks (where I worked) was very high, considering bad management, unhappy coworkers, bad customers and low pay. Some of us just stopped going, but that didn’t stop people from applying to that store. TC mark

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