Summer Barista Sins: 5 Mistakes I Made As A New Barista

Having been a barista at Yellow House Coffee now for close to ten weeks, I’ve committed my share of barista sins. Though most were fairly innocent and understandable for a half-trained barista, some of them were just downright stupid. For your enjoyment and my future reference, I’ve decided to tell some stories of this summer’s […]
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✍ Written by: Garrett Oden
📅 Published: August 14, 2014
🗃 Filed under: PERSONAL

Having been a barista at Yellow House Coffee now for close to ten weeks, I’ve committed my share of barista sins. Though most were fairly innocent and understandable for a half-trained barista, some of them were just downright stupid. For your enjoyment and my future reference, I’ve decided to tell some stories of this summer’s barista sins.

An Apology to the Victims

My sincerest apologies if any of these crimes were committed against you. My mistakes were unnecessary and should have been prevented by clearer and calmer thinking.  I appreciate your incredible patience, friendliness, and forgiveness.

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Cinnamel Latte

Right when I began espresso drinks a man came in and ordered two caramel lattes to go for him and his lady friend. Being the noob I was (some would say I still am), I shot in some cinnamon syrup instead of caramel. In my defense, they look almost identical. The man walked right out the door and drove away. Poor fellow had to deal with the wrath of an angry woman who wanted caramel.

The Weight of Brown Sugar

There are a couple women who regularly order brown sugar lattes. These lattes are sweet, but not quite as aggressively sweet as the flavored lattes. I tared the scale, threw some brown sugar in the cup, and began the pre-infusion. I noticed that the shot had pulled way too fast and heavy, so I dumped it and tried again, thinking I had pre-infused way too much. The second shot I apparently didn’t pre-infuse enough, although the weight and time aligned how they should have. Happily, I delivered the latte.

Then it hit me.

The reason the first shot seemed to pull so fast was because I hadn’t zeroed the scale after inserting the brown sugar. The mysterious extra weight was the brown sugar, not over-extracted espresso! So what happened the second shot when it pulled the correct weight? The espresso was actually pretty under-extracted. Blast.

Lost Shots

One day I prepared two iced caramel lattes for a gentlemen. Except I forgot to pull the espresso shots. Syrup and milk – yum.

Steamed Iced Latte

I also tried steaming and pouring milk for an iced latte once. You can probably imagine the look on my manager’s face as I poured a heart into a clear, plastic cup, and then was confused about where to put the ice.

Oops Art

Before my milk was consistent, I had a problem with over-aerating. On one occasion the extra foam in the milk pitcher blobbed into the latte cup in the shape of a not-so-innocent male body part. Gave it a swirl with the whisk and all was good.

It’s Only the Beginning

There were many other sins committed this summer, most of them in the form of mis-delivered drinks, forgot orders, and spilled milk. But that’s the way of learning, I guess.

It’s unfortunate that several guests had to be on the receiving end of my poor thinking and lack of skill, but those days are passing away. I haven’t committed a barista crime as serious as these in weeks, and my general confidence and problem solving skills have increased dramatically. Although mistakes are bound to happen every once in a while, the days of frequent remakes and awkward service are over.

With Autumn fast approaching comes the rush of thirsty students. I am ready.

Garrett Oden

Garrett Oden

Coffee Industry Writer

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