14 Struggles Every Coffee Shop Barista Deals With On A Daily Basis

by Jessie Castle

Working as a barista can be a tough gig. It takes early mornings, weekend work and, in some cases, all the patience in the world to deal with the customers.

Here are 14 struggles anyone who's worked with coffee before can relate to:

1. The Regulars

The urban coffee consumer is a creature of habit, and as such, the regulars are those guys we see every single day: rain, hail or shine. Now, some of these guys are absolute legends. After a while, they become your bonafide friends.

The others? They're an interesting mix of over-demanding and perpetually needy. We've all had a regular sneak up on us at closing time and act like a wounded animal, until we relinquish and keep the shop open for his or her oh-so-important piccolo latte.

2. The Semi-Regulars

Sometimes, it can be difficult to remember every single customer's name, especially at 6 am. However, baristas have evolved past this issue with the allotment of various nicknames for those hard to remember orderers.

Some of my personal favorites have been “Jumbo Jones” (only drinks jumbo flat whites), “Mort Rainey” (often wears a hat distinctly similar to the one worn by Johnny Depp in "Secret Window") and, of course, the simple but effective “Three Egg” (always orders three eggs).

3. The Early Morning

There's nothing quite like getting up for the daily grind (pun intended), and having the moon taunt you with its bedtime wonderment while you drive to work. The only thing getting your butt there at 6 am is the promise of an espresso upon arrival.

4. The Muffin Struggle

Some speak of the “freshman 15," but baristas know there is a much more sinister struggle among us. It's called "the muffin struggle." We've all felt the temptation of being surrounded by beautiful pastries during an eight-hour shift.

We also know the pain of having said pastries thrown out at the end of the day, unless we take said pastries home and make them the adopted children we've always wanted. Basically, the chances of gaining some muffin weight are pretty high.

5. The Milk Spray

This is a simple one. If you're not concentrating while texturizing your milk, there's a good chance the milk will attack you. Unfortunately, more often than not, it's in your eye or on your favorite shirt. The result is, you will spend all day smelling like sour milk, and one of your co-workers will make a cum joke.

6. The Barista Shoes

Any barista who's rolled into work feelin' all sorts of fly in his or her brand new Nikes has made a terrible mistake. Between the previously mentioned milk spray and the strange amount of over-grind that falls on the floor, your shoes stand no chance.

Luckily, most of us have figured this out by now and as a result, we wear the same old coffee-splattered shoes to work every day.

7. The Regular Who Changes His Or Her Order And Ruins Your Life

This is torture. When a customer spends eight months ordering the same skinny magic and then one day decides to start ordering a soy latte, it's basically the end of days for any barista. The thing is, we've spent a good three weeks mentally pinning your coffee order to your face.

We probably start making it when we see you across the street. Unfortunately, we too are creatures of habit. We may not be the sharpest tools in the shed, so give us some time to adjust.

8. The Short Novel Coffee Orderer

We've all had them. They're the guys who order a "triple shot and a half, 85 degrees, half latte in a mug with one and a half sugars."

Please, just stop it. It hurts our brains, and we spend the next four minutes gossiping about you once you leave.

9. The “I Ask For Flavoring In My Coffee” Guy

Here's the thing: We spend so much time making sure the grind, tamping, pour, milk and everything in between is right.

So when you ask for a vanilla latte, expect a frown.

10. The “I'm In A Rush” Guy

The morning rush can be tough. When the list of orders keeps growing and you're busting balls to get the coffee out as quickly as possible, having a customer lean over the machine and say “I need to catch the bus” -- or some other variation of this -- can be pretty irritating. It's also guaranteed to not get us to make your coffee any faster.

11. The Staring Guy

Occasionally, a customer will feel so untrustworthy of you, he or she will actually leer at you from behind the counter and judge every one of your movements. Again, the only result here is that we will gossip about you once you leave.

12. The Unattainable First Coffee

I don't know why this exists, but there is a very real and not-imaginary rule that states that if you have just made yourself a perfect coffee, the moment that sweet elixir gets anywhere close to your lips, you'll get an order. Not only that, but then you'll also get 10 more orders. The heartbreaking result is you will return to a coffee that is now deathly-looking, and it has taken a small piece of your soul along with it.

13. The “I'm Not Sure Which Group Handle I've Loaded” Fiasco

This is guaranteed to make any other barista watching you laugh in your face. It happens to us all.

In the midst of a coffee rush, you load a shot. Then, you immediately forget which group handle you have actually put the coffee into.

As a result, you try all three, and frantically attend to the one that doesn't have swamp-like, light brown water pouring out of it.

14. The War Wounds

Thanks to the steamer, the weight of the tamp and the tricky group handle heads, all of us have come out of a few shifts with some burns or bruises.

My personal favorite (and by favorite, I mean life-ruining) part is cleaning the group handle and getting your skin stuck in between the basket when you attempt to put it back together.