Broadway Barista…..I love my coffee shop job

I work on Broadway, a busy street of infamy in a major metropolitan city. No, it’s not the famous Broadway of New York, full of classy acts and theater snobs. My Broadway is something more like the telegraph avenue in Berkley or it’s neighbor Haight/Ashbery. Every city has a Broadway; it’s Hennipen or Lyndale in Minniapolis, it’s Granville in Vancouver, or 15th avenue in Denver. But it’s not really the street that is important here. It is just the setting, the mood, and the atmosphere around me.

Broadway is the backdrop of the world around me. My name is Ira and I’m a barista. I love my job, but then I love people. I spend my days in a little shack on a street corner slinging espresso for the masses and those in need of a little something in their day. A lot of the time I’m one of the first people my customers interact with in their day. I’m not saying that I’m all that important; there are hundreds of other more important people they will talk to in their day. But I’m where it starts, sometimes even when they’ve been up for hours working already. The day just doesn’t begin until they’ve had their coffee.

I work in a city where people are passionate about coffee. Yep, you guessed it, I live in Seattle; but I got my start in a small town in the Midwest. You know what? My customers where just as passionate there. That’s the funny thing about espresso, if you enjoy it, then you love it, no matter where you are. My favorite joke to tell people when they ask me about my job is that I had to start working espresso because I couldn’t to pay for it anymore.

I would recommend this job to anyone. I work hard, but I have a lot of fun. I hang out all day and talk to people. I meet so many wonderful and unique people everyday and I get to form relationships with these people. People tell me all about their lives, 3 minutes at a time and you’d be surprised by what someone will tell you while they are waiting for their coffee. There is always something going on and discussion is open to all. Complete strangers form small relationships with each other that revolve around my stand. The act of getting coffee in a day becomes a small event for people, ritualistic and important although not significant. In this way I become a facilitator and a part of the neighborhood or community. Anywhere I go up or down the street I run into people I know on the sidewalk and in the businesses. It’s a nice feeling. It makes me feel good to know that I get a chance to be a part of so many lives. That’s what makes being a barista such a great job. Now, I said that I would recommend this job to anyone, but it is defiantly not for everyone. The funny thing about this job is that it is one of those rare jobs where you are not just in the service industry, you also find yourself occasionally in the therapy business as well. Like I said, “you will be surprised by what people will tell you.” But for me that is also one of the things that I like about the job. I enjoy helping people in any way I can. I find that a lot of people just want someone to listen to them for just a couple of minutes while they vent about the things going on in their lives. That’s all it takes to make them feel better. Sometimes all it takes is a free latte, just something nice to drastically improve the mood of their day. So you can see that while espresso is a laid back and enjoyable job, it is a little more consuming than it appears. That is why it’s not a job for just anybody. A lot of people don’t have the time to give to that kind of work. The up side is that it is highly rewarding, that, and I get all kinds of stories to tell. So the next time you’re in my neighborhood stop on by and get your 3 minutes worth.

P.S. watch for unfolding stories as well as oldies but goodies!