Barista Diary

I’ve been in and out of jobs, hopped from one Ayala Avenue building to another, and rode many elevators. Corporate offices just can’t give me the kind of satisfaction that working in a coffee shop can. Being a barista has got to be one of the most interesting satisfying jobs I’ve ever had, and I’ve had quite a few. It’s always fun to say ‘I make coffee for a living’ – not as a farmer but as one who pulls esperesso shots to make overpriced cafe mocha.

I’ve quit previous jobs for purely arbitrary reasons and having the benefit of a college diploma, I felt that seeking employment is not something that I should be worried about. I was under the impression that if I’m unable to find one, one will most likely find me. But I was smacked with the realization that having a diploma can and will eventually seem worthless compared to having an absolute and bankable talent because no one cares about your college feasibility study. While I haven’t been exactly a cocky employee, I had the gall to literally walk out of a high-paying job without so much as a goodbye to the manager. I took off and actively decided to work as a barista. Desperate to find work, I applied as a barista.

It was a breath of fresh air to my professional working experience, having come from previously boring and unfulfilling jobs. And I believe that a person who had the nerve to walk out of a job earns the right (kind of) to call certain jobs boring or unfulfilling as long as he’s able to at least express satisfaction about other jobs. I occasionally felt that I may have been coerced into becoming a barista since I felt that no decent employer would want to hire someone who permanently decides to get out of his cubicle as he pleases. But more than anything, I’d like to think of this ‘coercion’ as a blessing in disguise. It was by no means an easy job, but it was satisfying in a way that no other job on earth is. Being one of the most popular and most public of places, my coffee shop doubled as a place of work and a place to meet friends and dates. And even as it was implicitly stated by the management that flirting while working is punishable, there’d be baristas who’d feel duty-bound to turn on their charm and flirt like hell. It just seemed inevitable that as a barista I’d be serving more than just high calorie coffee. Looking back, I think I did serve some of my customers more than just coffee and that’s mostly because I’m not one to ruin tradition.

Being a barista requires more than just earnest smiles and great enunciation. The hours are long and most of the time, the days felt long. Eventually, I felt that standing for almost straight 8 hours, manning cash registers and being asked to bus tables in 10-minute intervals didn’t seem worth the fun. If I had known better, I would have exited sooner than I did. The novelty of saying, ‘I make coffee for a living’ has worn off. So, bye.

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Shh.

There should be a coffee place that’s so secluded that it’s almost unheard of – a coffee shop that looks like it would go out of business because no one is ever around. I could live with maybe 2 or 3 customers who preferrably should have laptops and who are just quietly surfing the net and not making any racket. Kids are ok, but they should be very, very preoccupied with their toys. Otherwise, they’d be gunned down. People who’d speak on the phone should definitely be shot. Especially if their conversation is heard in the whole place. And if the conversation is about a multi-million peso business deal, they should be kicked out. Unless their conversation is for only about 5 minutes. That’ll be okay.

Coupe Coffee Station has very few customers today. I bet they have fewer on other days. This place is situated in a gas station (Petron) and there ought to be hordes of neighborhood kids in here but that’s not the case, so, perfect. This is exactly the kind of place that looks like its owner had a very nice image of it upon conception but which eventually and sorrily turned out to be such a dud. The coffee is good, but people never go to coffee shops for the coffee so I don’t act surprised that there’s hardly anyone around.

The baristas, who are all in the backroom when I entered (and understandably so seeing as there were only 2 customers), are quiet and unobtrusive. They maintain as little interaction as possible. I may not have been here long enough to conclude that they’re going to be as quiet as I’d like them to be but so far, they don’t seem like baristas you would want to strangle. And my fellow peace-loving customers are as quiet as the dead.

The quiet is amazing. Never before had the buzzing of an airconditioning unit sounded so peaceful and magical. For a gas station coffee shop, the place is surprisingly peaceful. But then someone will soon come in and order something ice-blended which would create a terrible noise. You can only hope that these people wouldn’t come in droves. If somebody could just convince them that frappuccinos, delicious as they are, are going to make them unattractively fat, maybe you could get the quiet you long for longer than you deserve. But that’s probably too much to ask for this season.