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  • Writer's pictureEva

my experience working in coffee shops

one day a person from school asked to add me on facebook. they friended me and saw my Work Experience tab in my bio.

they scoffed– "you work at The Local?" (one of the two coffee shops on campus)

i get this reaction from students a lot. like ohhhhhh okay you are one of those wanna be beanie wearing hipsters working at the local college coffee shop where students do "work" in the ambiance of other beanie wearing hipsters listening to fucking Imagine Dragons and drinking a $7 matcha almond milk lavender latte and shit. okay the beanie thing is true. but the funniest thing is... as if that made me fucking cool at all?? i'm literally scrubbing toilets where half of Oberlin's ass has been, making $8.50 an hour plus tips and working 15 hours a week on top of going to school part-time and you think that i'm just working there to be cool????

bruh. let me tell you.

i got that job because i actually have experience working in another cafe. i like the perks of getting free coffee and tea whenever i'm in Oberlin. i like that i can have a free meal after my shift and will always eat a good lunch. i like that i get to make people happy in the mornings. doing jobs like that actually make me happy. so no i don't wash dishes and take out endless bags of trash in front of my fellow students to "be cool." honestly it would be probably way more cool if i got a less physically demanding job, but you know what? i do it because i like it. and even the coffee shop gig isn't the only way i make money! i babysit two different sets of kids at least once a week as a SIDE job. still think i do this because it's cool?

back at home in Pennsylvania i work at a local coffee shop called Brew Haha. same coffee stuff and same general job. you serve tea, put in orders, and keep the cafe looking clean. its a lot of time on your feet and the pay isn't amazing. but there's something that keeps me going there and at the Local. it's seeing the same people everyday and making those people happy. i know it sounds stupid but i really enjoy it. you build close relationships with the staff and with the customers. at both my coffee shop jobs the staff are totally exposed. there isn't really a huge back room to chill in so we are kinda just always among the customers. you talk to people, get to know them, get to know their order. the environment of a workplace is what i value the most. i actually was referred to work at the Local through my friend Aiden (in picture below) who was a barista there part-time. having a friend who really enjoyed the job made me excited to start. every morning opening with him was so much fun AND we got paid in the process. win win. at Brew Haha, i work with some of the most amazing people. everyone is so chill, funny, and great to work with. even the managers at both my jobs are awesome and understanding. i basically go back and forth between the two jobs depending on where i am– school or PA.

if the job is great but the people at the job suck, then the job itself is gonna suck! i'd rather be making less, scrubbing toilets, and actually like the people i work with and the customers i serve than having to deal with annoying coworkers and customers. sure, coffee culture can be super annoying to work in sometimes... people get hella anal about their orders and i've had really stressful shifts when shit just literally keeps going wrong. but overall, its simple. work hard, work fast, get the order right and if you fuck it up just smile really hard and fix it.

i also love having cash at the end of a work day. at Brew Haha i usually switch between working cashier in the cafe and being a waitress so tips are always a part of my job and counted daily. but at the Local, they have a system where they collect all the tips and divide them by hours that you worked. the Local is probably more equitable since sometimes you can be on slower shifts or busier shifts and this way it's all divided equally, but both keep me incentivized and eager to leave with my hard earned cash. this is a big thing but PLEASE (if you can) tip in CASH. these aren't then taken out of our paychecks! and also YES you should TIP your barista if you can. the money we make isn't great to begin with even though we make an hourly rate. even a little goes a long way.

i like working at coffee shops because it is so out in open (at Brew and the Local) they make a big effort in protecting employees against harassment. both jobs have been very good at making sure i feel comfortable around other employees and customers. i've had other jobs where that hasn't been the case. being in such an exposed environment actually makes me feel safer... as weird as that may sound.

i'm really happy that i work where i work. i used to work in the fucking dining hall my first semester. well Decafe exactly if you're an Oberlin student and that shit blew SO HARD. students give me shit for working at our boujee campus coffee shop but literally scrubbing floors and waking up at 6a to open shop is not as glamorous as you might think! i do this because i love it. i do it because it's fun. i do it because i need the money. i do it because it's what i do best– making peoples favorite drinks and making them happy in the process.

aiden and i at work



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