Tag Archives: coffee

Hillary Clinton Hurts Barista’s Feelings

Here’s part of what Hillary Clinton said in a recording, taken from a private fundraiser held in February, which shows Clinton laying out her assessment of Sanders voters:

“They are living in their parents’ basement,” Clinton said. “They feel they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves. And they don’t see much of a future.”

“If you’re feeling like you’re consigned to, you know, being a barista, or you know, some other job that doesn’t pay a lot, and doesn’t have some other ladder of opportunity attached to it, then the idea that maybe, just maybe, you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing.”

2015-02-06 22.14.14 (4)Here’s what I say:

I’m 60 years old and I’ve been a barista for going on fourteen years. I stay at this job that doesn’t pay a lot because, frankly Mrs. Clinton, thanks to you and President Obama, I wouldn’t be able to afford your “Affordable Health Care” for my husband and myself if I didn’t.

I take offense at the snide tone you used in your comments especially the way you said the word “barista” like it’s comparable to slinging manure. It’s good, honest work and frankly, Mrs. Clinton, if you knew anything about business, you’d know that it is indeed possible to start at the bottom of that ‘ladder of opportunity’ and move up, especially in a company, for example, like Starbucks. I personally have known several individuals who began their careers as baristas and are now store managers and district managers. Many, I am sure, have moved even higher within the company or have gone on to hold high-paying jobs elsewhere.

Your suggestion that being a barista  is a dead-end job is ridiculous and short-sighted.  What my barista job may lack in pay it makes up for in other benefits, such as the aforementioned AFFORDABLE health care insurance, a 401K, flexible schedule, and tips as well as free coffee.20161004_193852

For you to imply that because I’m a barista I must be living in my parents’ basement is hurtful and inaccurate.

I must now go find a safe space where I can recover from the pain your micro-aggression has caused me.

#barista #HillaryClinton #healthcare #tobeapartner


When Life Hands You Shit, Start Shoveling

2015-02-06 22.14.14 (4)Since 2003 I have worked for a global coffee company. The benefits (like reasonably priced health insurance) are good and I get all the free coffee I want. Mostly I brew coffee and take orders and make lattes. I don’t work full-time, it’s not a hard job and it suits me.

But lately I’ve been re-evaluating my life choices. This started when a customer told us we had an issue in our restroom that needed to be dealt with. I had been in the restroom earlier and noticed a rather unpleasant odor, but that is not unusual. I often wonder what goes on in there.

But this particular afternoon, there was a bit of a lull and since no one else volunteered, I decided to see what was going on in the restroom, a decision I will regret for the rest of my life. Because what had happened in the restroom was that someone had shit on the floor. On purpose. Behind the trash can. Then the trash can had been moved which smeared the poop across the floor and onto the bottom of the trash can.

IMG_1964Gross and disgusting does not begin to cover it. And guess who got to clean it up? I don’t suppose I had to, but my philosophy is, once your child has thrown up in your hand, not much grosses you out. But this came pretty damn close.

So I’ve got a mop bucket and restroom cleaner and gloves and the whole time I’m literally cleaning up someone else’s shit I’m wondering where I went so horribly wrong on my life’s path that this is what I’m doing now. I’m also thanking God that our delightful guest didn’t decide to smear the gift across the walls.

Seriously, who does this? What is wrong with people? For future reference, if you’re unhappy with your drink, we’ll remake it at no charge. We do it all the time. We get enough figurative shit from the general public on a regular basis. There’s no need to leave the real thing on the bathroom floor.

So the shit gets cleaned and eventually we all have a good laugh about it and I get a pat-on-the-back award from the shift supervisor with a note that says, “Thanks for cleaning up the shit around here.”  Har har.

Then the next day I find out my publisher is going out of business.

There aren’t quite words to express how that felt. Disappointment. Sadness. Frustration. I just can’t seem to catch a break. And I seriously have to wonder how I ended up where I am. At the proverbial fork in the road, did I choose the wrong path? Because these days that’s how it feels.

away-228675_1280 (1)

Should I just stop writing? My books don’t sell in big numbers. It’s been an uphill battle ever since I sat down to write a novel oh so many years ago. Maybe I wasn’t meant to do what I’m doing at all.

Except when I mention this to two friends, both of whom formerly worked with me slinging lattes and one of whom is now my marketing guide, I was reminded of a blog I just wrote about how hiding your talent under a basket is dishonoring God and the gift He gave you. I swear as I was sitting there talking about that blog it was like God saying of course you can’t stop writing. No matter how much shit gets thrown at you. (I’m paraphrasing, of course.) And then He said, “I’ll help you shovel.”

#writing #shit #life #choices

Addiction to The Forbidden Bean

What if you had an addiction to a substance for which there was no rehab? What if you couldn’t tell anyone about your addiction?

In Tee Rutledge I may have created the ideal fictional addict, but there are many correlations to real life addiction. First of all, she has no idea that swallowing one forbidden coffee bean will addict her to them. She doesn’t even realize she is hooked until some time later. She tries to fight her addiction, but she can’t. The lure of the bean and the transformations they cause while she’s under one’s influence are stronger than her will.

She hides her addiction (sound familiar?) and covers up what happens during her transformations because she’s quite certain no one would believe she’s addicted to coffee beans, of all things, or that after swallowing one she temporarily turns into…something else. A fly on a wall, or a butterfly or a cockroach. The power she gains through her addiction is addictive.

She was warned, however, by the package before she opened it, but she didn’t heed the warning. Like a kid picking up his first cigarette, the caution that it is hazardous to his health goes unheeded. Just one won’t hurt me. Next thing you know he’s hooked and it’s a pack a day.

In spite of all the warnings about drugs and alcohol, all the “preventative” measures we take to inform children in this country about the negative impact of even trying them, we are a nation full of addicts.

I come from a long line of addicts, alcoholics mostly. My father told me the story of experiencing his first beer at age ten when his father took him into a bar and bought him a bowl of beer. This was after they’d driven the wagon from the farm into town. Can you imagine how my father must have felt after that beer? Warm and woozy and spending time with his dad one on one. My dad was the eldest of five children and grew up on a farm in the Midwest during the Depression. Of course he must have associated drinking beer with one of his best, happiest memories. Nearly everyone on his side of the family drank beer. Some of my cousins and some of my siblings are or were alcoholics.

One of my brothers explained addiction to me this way: There is no gray area for him. It’s all or nothing. He’d been through rehab for alcohol and drug addiction. He kept his nicotine addiction because it was the last vice he had left and he wasn’t about to give it up. If he found something he liked (frozen lime fruit bars, for example) he’d consume an entire box. He couldn’t have just one.

Working in a coffee shop, I am surrounded by addicts. I don’t know if it’s the caffeine, the ritual, the cup, the flavor or what exactly the customers are addicted to. Perhaps all of those and more.

If you’ve ever watched Intervention or read accounts of drug addicts, part of the addiction is the ritual, the needle or the pipe, the preparation. It’s almost better than the high. I think this is true of many coffee customers. It’s the ritual of waiting in line, moving closer to the counter, exchanging cash for a cup of fresh brew. It’s fascinating to watch the interactions that occur on a daily basis. Tee, also, is weirdly mesmerized by those forbidden beans with their unidentifiable coating. She develops a ritual of hiding in the storeroom, opening the bag of beans, withdrawing one, examining it, tasting it, rolling it on her tongue, despising her inability to stop consuming them.

In later blogs I’ll try to explain how the Grinding Reality series idea came about. For now, I hope you enjoy reading The Forbidden Bean. In fact, I hope you become addicted to it.

I love hearing from readers.
Contact me at barb@barbmeyers.com
#The Forbidden Bean
#Grinding Reality
#AJ Tillock

Days Like This

Yesterday began with my brilliant idea to teach my husband to brew coffee.  I suggested it would be nice if he occasionally had coffee ready when I came downstairs in the morning instead of waiting for me to make it.  I’m pretty sure this somehow caused a tear in the fabric of the universe because the rest of the day threw me curve balls.

A friend I haven’t heard from in months called to thank me for her birthday card.  I’d begun to wonder if our 25-year friendship had somehow dissolved, but I guess it was simply on hiatus.

After I looked at the calendar to see when I might get together with her, I realized I have another dear friend whose birthday is in a few days and I had to get a card in the mail.

I discovered my daughter’s wedding gift registry online.  She’s chosen the most gorgeous, elegant Kate Spade dinnerware. 

As the morning progressed I began to wonder if a migraine was headed my way so I took a chunk of migraine medication and off to work I went.

Shortly after I arrive I discover my credit card payment is still in my purse.  It was due yesterday.  Luckily a coworker is headed in the direction of the bank and offers to drop it off for me.  I have the best friends, don’t I?

More fun time ensues when staff is confused about a special offer on retail merchandise.  A phone call and some new signage is required.

A text from my daughter.  Her fiancé landed his dream job.  Yay!

A coworker fresh out of college stops in to say his job hunt has taken an upturn.  Fingers crossed for him that a position he’s just applied for will parlay into an interview and work in his field of interest.  I feel good about this since someone I know just landed a dream job.

In walks the Ecosure inspector and the real fun begins.  This is not something we take lightly.  The annual Ecosure inspection is beyond any inspection the health department does.  The score affects the store manager in ways I don’t like to contemplate.  We will hear about a bad score for months.  Panic sets in because I’ve not once, in eight years, been at the store during an inspection, and so I’ve never been the shift supervisor on duty when they arrive.  I call my manager when I can’t find the paperwork I’m required to have.  Meanwhile the inspector is poking and prodding and shining her little flashlight into every nook and cranny and making notes on her Palm Pilot-like device.  What is she writing down?  How bad can it be?  My manager arrives but the churning in my stomach doesn’t stop.  Everything is out of my control at this point anyway.  My fellow partner and I eye each other worriedly, but there is nothing more we can do.  When I hear my manager’s unprecedented, “I love you!” from the back room, I have a feeling it’s going to be okay.  We got a 94.  Whew!

The work day continues fairly normally until I go outside to sweep.  There is a bird fight happening on the plaza sidewalk.  Birds squawking and flapping about.  It takes me a while to figure out what’s going on.  Apparently they are attacking one of their own, weaker members.  He escapes and takes cover on the outdoor patio.  I see him in a corner first and later he hops behind the garbage can near the door.  But when I go over there with my broom I can’t find him.  I soon discover why.  He’s inside the store. 

Great.  How am I supposed to capture a bird inside the store?  I should be happy he’s not flying.  I can’t figure out what’s wrong with him from the few glimpses I’ve gotten.  He looks a bit gimpy.  Maybe he’s a baby who can’t fly.  His feathers don’t look quite right.  He hops around.  I can’t worry about this now.  Too many customers and too much closing work to do.

The evening progresses.  At 8:15 the bird makes another appearance.  A regular customer comes in while I’m trying to figure out how to capture the bird.  For some reason the customer jokingly asks if he can help me.  He’s not aware there’s a bird in the store, but I say yes, you can help me catch this bird.  He takes off for the restroom.  (The customer, not the bird.)  When he comes out, he realizes I was serious, and even though he mutters something about not wanting to catch the flu (bird flu, I presume) he picks up a napkin and goes after the bird. (Meanwhile, my helpful fellow partner is suggesting a call to Animal Control or 911.)  This gimpy little bird leads the customer on a merry chase around the store, but somehow, he gets hold of the bird which squawks like nobody’s business, gets the bird out the door and tosses him into the bushes out front.  Hip, hip hooray!  We can now let nature take its course.  Not only do I work with the best people, have the best friends, but also the best customers!  I reward him with free coffee for a week.  (The customer, not the bird.)

Was there anything else out of the ordinary that happened yesterday?  Probably not, but I’m not teaching my husband any new tricks any time soon, either.

Visit me at www.barbmeyers.com


A Barista Bemoans

A Barista Bemoans

1. “I wanted that iced.”  Usually spoken at the hand-off counter by a customer who doesn’t know the difference between an iced drink and a hot one and didn’t order it iced so we assumed they wanted it hot.  Also usually after you’ve created the perfect hot beverage with perfectly timed shots and meringue-like foam.

 2.  “Can I get some water?”  Usually requested by an individual you’ve never seen before who has no intention of ordering or paying for anything.  Occasionally requested by non-regular customers who apparently have no running or potable water in their homes and must search out the local coffee emporium to order drinking water.  These individuals rarely have any concept of the appropriate use for words like “please” and “thank you.”

 3.  “I don’t want whipped cream.”  Usually this is mentioned after you’ve topped a drink that comes with whipped cream with the perfect dollop of whipped cream.

 4.  “Can I get that with skim milk?”  To which we might reply, “Yes, ma’am, we have non-fat milk.”  “Well, I’d prefer skim milk.”  Um, they’re the same thing.

5.  “This doesn’t taste right.”  Okay, we’re happy to remake it.  What doesn’t taste right about it?  “I don’t know.  It doesn’t taste right.”  Is it bitter?  Too sweet?  Too strong?  “It just doesn’t taste right.”

 6.  “One minute.”  This is usually followed by a finger in the air directed at whoever is trying to take orders and move the line along and is always offered by someone on a cell phone.  Get a clue, people.  If you’re on your cell phone having a conversation you are not ready to order coffee.  Step aside and conclude your phone call.  Then and only then should you get back in line.  The back of the line.

7.  “I don’t know what I want.”  Okay, then, step out of the line, study the menu board some more and narrow down your choices.  We don’t know what you want either, but here are some ideas before you step up to the register:  Do you want a hot drink?  A cold drink?  A drink with coffee?  A drink without coffee?  Something sweet?  Something not so sweet?  If you have questions, ask, but don’t stand there staring at the menu completely clueless when there are ten people standing behind you who know what they want.

8.  “Is this my vanilla latte?”  Usually asked right after you’ve set a vanilla latte on the hand-off counter and called it as a vanilla latte.  Almost always asked when there is only one customer waiting and the only thing ordered was a vanilla latte.

 Some more favorites: 

 The man who brings in his sandwich baggie full of coins and proceeds to count out three dollars or more in pennies, nickels and dimes to pay for his drink.

The people who hand you a ten or a twenty and wait until you’ve counted out their change, including the coins before they say, “Oh, I’ve got the change.”

The exercise freaks who stuff their money inside their sweaty clothes and then pull it out in a crumpled damp mess and hand it to you.

The woman who orders, and waits until you’ve rung up her order to place her gigantic purse on the counter and open it.  She then proceeds to search for her wallet, which is never in plain sight.  She must unzip/unsnap said wallet and root around for some dollar bills usually buried behind twenties and fifties.  Eventually, some ones will make it to the counter, where they will be counted slowly for the cashier’s benefit followed by, “I think I have the sixty-seven cents.”  The wallet will return to the giant handbag, there will be more rooting around for a coin purse and the same procedure will be followed until it is discovered that exact change is indeed not available as was earlier thought.  Coin purse is returned to the handbag, wallet makes another appearance.  Whereupon it is discovered that no more one dollar bills exist within the confines of said wallet and a twenty- or fifty-dollar bill is offered.  Meanwhile, ten minutes of everyone involved’s life has gone by and they will never get it back.

The man who orders a solo espresso, pours cold milk into it at the condiment counter then brings it back to you and asks if you have a microwave. 

Us:  No, we don’t. 

Him:  But my coffee’s cold.

Us:  Oh, did you pour cold milk into a one-ounce shot of espresso? 

Him:  Yes. 

Us:  That’s probably why it’s cold.