Posted on by Barista Life Guest Writer

This post was written by Joey Hoover, a Starbucks Partner and guest writer for Barista Life! Joey works at a Starbucks in Castro Valley, CA where as a barista, Joey made espresso drinks, wiped counters, cleaned drains, dishes, restocked beans, inclusions, swept lobby, made conversations with customers, cleaned espresso machines, sold pastries, cleaned bathrooms, wiped and cleaned cases, sold product.  He was also a barista trainer where he trained new and old baristas on Starbucks quality both in cleaning tasks and in quality espresso drinks, taught them how to make a variety of drinks ranging from espresso to milk only based drinks. He worked with them after training to make sure they understood the job not only in theory but in practice. Coffee Master a program that takes a Starbucks barista the extra mile to learn about the product they are selling, learned of: coffee origins growth market different varietals roast profiles.  Check his Instagram & Twitter out!
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The 'Bux Response

The Starbucks Response

To all the coffee snobs out there, Starbucks is a definitive “no” on the list. With all the shops and roasters out there on the come up brandishing their mason jars and string lights the time of the local Starbucks as seen in the nineties is gone.

Anyone worth their salt as a barista knows of the admiration that the “Third Wave” scene has brandished. It has changed the culture of Coffee for generations to come allowing for an art form not seen in the drinks known as the Latte, Cappuccino, Cortado, Gibraltar, and Macchiato. It has inspired youth and adult alike to run into the scene with no looking back and has left the corporate scene of coffee entirely. They would say, “Peet's and Starbucks is dead long live Stumptown!”

Well I don’t think so. All the connoisseurs puff their chests at Starbucks. A company Are Starbucks Baristas Real baristasmany call home, that many have spent their years working along side with, partnering with, bleeding their Green and White. Long standing Baristas of Starbucks know of the change happening in the company and if you haven’t seen it allow me enlighten you: the change of packaging, the new pour over equipment, the change in bag artwork for the seasonal single origins, the addition of neutral colors adding the rustic ascetic of the shops, and of course the Reserve Roastery.

The benefit about being on the behind end of culture is the observance of what works and what doesn’t and with a company as big and as far reaching as Starbucks they have the power to tweak and add like no small town roaster can. With the addition of Clover stores and the Reserve Roastery Starbucks is gaining momentum; its experimenting with brew methods and recipes, its allowing for a change in its culture from the inside out in response to what it sees working and what is not.

So many fail to see this, they count it as a detriment to such as huge company. But that’s what’s great about us Starbucks Baristas! We aren’t quiet, we complain and gossip; and much to our surprise Corporate hears us and implements what we complain about. Give it time and you’ll see Starbucks perfect what the small town roasters could not, they are already doing so now. Coffee Snobs need to put aside their arrogance and see what’s really at play here; slow and steady wins the race and as all the Starbucks Baristas know, Starbucks is playing the waiting game.

Many 'Third-Wave' baristas also are very quick to let every Starbucks Barista know that they aren't a real barista.  Why is this?  Starbucks baristas are, in fact, just as much of a barista as one who works at an independent shop.

So, let's for a second, define what a barista actually is...with a little Google search, 'define barista,' we are given this as the definition:

Define barista

So, by definition, Starbucks Baristas do fall under the definition of a barista.  But wait a minute! How can they be baristas?  Baristas tamp their espresso shots each time they pull shots.  Baristas can make latte art!  Baristas don't just push a button to make a drink.  Well, you may not believe it, but many Starbucks baristas can do all of these things, and more.  We just happen to work for a company that serves far more customers than the independent coffee shop around the corner.  Just because we don't tamp our espresso shots each drink, doesn't mean that we don't know how to make a great latte, or cappuccino, or flat white.  

We can vouch for just about any Starbucks barista that they don't want to be making all of these sugary, ice-cream, "coffee" drinks that the population likes to call Frappuccinos.  Trust us, they are the bane of our existence, but it's a part of our job.

Starbucks baristas really do take pride in what they do.  We do what the independent barista does, just really quickly, and in extremely high numbers.  We are expected to provide excellent customer service, prepare food, clean the lobby, clean bathrooms, multitask, do inventory counts, and so much more that it really does get a Starbucks barista down when they aren't considered as a barista in the eyes of independents.

Many of us can free pour latte art with the best of them.  It is not our decision to make a flat white 20 ounces, but it does not mean we don't know what a real flat white is.  It is not our decision to include a Frappuccino on the menu, but we gladly make them for 90% of our customers.  And let us tell you, making a line of 20+ Frappuccinos for a group of teenage girls is actually a lot more difficult than tamping your own espresso shots.

Next time you go to call out a Starbucks Barista for not being a "real barista," stop and put yourself in their shoes.  You're both in the business of making and serving coffee, and you both have a passion for what you do, let's rid ourselves of the notion that Starbucks Baristas aren't real baristas, because if we're not, then the definition of a barista needs to change to fit the over 200,000 baristas that are employed by Starbucks.

What is your Opinion? Do you think Starbucks Baristas should be considered 'Real' Baristas? Let us know in the comments below. 

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