The Fine Art of Espresso

A day in the life of a Barista, for some, a hectic and fraught experience but for the more skilled and veteran Barista it was a breeze, more of a showcase for the customers, a display of talent and expertise.  A prime example of this, tucked away in a small but busy Starbucks store in Sheffield. 

A glowing, orange interior with soft, easy-listening jazz playing in the background and red comfy sofas, hidden, snug in the back.  All this combined with the black and green veteran completes the Starbuck experience, which commences as soon as the foot is through the door, as you are met with a welcoming smile.

“Good morning,” the plump barista quickly reacts to the new customer and takes position at the till ready to take the order.  As with any order she asks the all important exacting questions, cutting straight to the point, ensuring the perfect, personalised drink is made.  She fills in the gaps with chit-chat and humour, exhibiting her warm and chatty demeanour, which is an essential for any good Barista.

“Decaf, double tall, vanilla, non-fat, extra-hot Latte to go please!”  The drink is called out precisely and clearly, and re-called by the other Barista on bar, just to reassure the thirsty punter that his drink will be all present and correct at the end of the bar for  him.

“Would you like anything else with that? Can I interest you in any muffins?”  Again, more exacting questions, making the Starbucks experience a completely tailored and fulfilling one.   

                When the need strikes, the ability to multi-task is essential and for the small, plump woman working, it has been mastered.  She switches smoothly from till to bar, picking up a silver milk jug and filling it on the way.  On arrival she slides the jug onto the steam wands, and waits for the slow hissing of steaming milk whilst she calls a drink made earlier.

“No that’s a solo Espresso not a venti Double Mocha Macchiato, yours is just here.”  She gently reassures the woman with a smile at the end of the bar and passes her, her drink freshly made.  Her steamed milk slides out of the dull jug like a velvety liquid, mixing with the light brown espresso making an eclipse like, brown rimmed, white circle at the top of the beverage.  “Tall Latte!”  She calls the waiting caffeine addict to her drink with a clear tone. 

When a brief period of quiet time ensues, there are still jobs and tasks to be done.  Her watchful eye descends on the cafe and the plump coffee master whisks round like a worker ant, picking up all she sees in sight, making sure the tables are spotless and the chairs impeccably placed.  When there are still no customers, she starts preparing, steaming milk, re-stocking in anticipation of the oncoming rush, soon to come.  Muffin after muffin and cake after cake are put in the empty display cases, replacing the ones bought, the muffins and cakes already eaten and enjoyed.

Quiet times are brief though, and soon a long line of frowning business types, snakes its way to the door in a lengthy queue, signalling the start of the lunch-time rush.  The long serving Barista takes to calling the line, with her short body just allowing her head to poke over the pastry cases, she takes orders and relays them to the bar.

“Next call...Venti Caramel Macchiato to go!”  Then a beep, beep, beep behind her indicates the warm crispness and readiness of a freshly toasted Panini, which she proceeds to take to its owner and then returns to calling the line.  She slowly but steadily chops it down to size, easing the frowns of the impatient and ill-mannered masses minutely, always keeping her polite and cheerful charm till finally, the queue has dissipated and she can return to straightening up cafe.

                She chats on the way to anyone willing to engage her, chatting with an elderly couple about how nice the weather has been, joking with some students about how they better not be the ones stealing mugs, depleting the usual towers that are placed next to the bar.  On her return to the counter, she bumps into a fellow barista just about to start shift, signalling that her eight hours of work are just about over and time to go home.

“That’s gone quick!”  She takes off her apron and disappears into the back for a few minutes, to return in her Black coat and scarf, she bids her farewells and walks out the door.               

The End

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