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Tag: espresso

Accidental overdose

Caffeine has always affected me strongly. Always. There are times that I lie awake at 3am and think “Why the heck can’t I sleep?” Then I remember I had a Dr. Pepper at noon. Yeah.

The thing is, when you’re using a manual espresso machine like what we have at work, you have to adjust the grind, pull a shot and then taste it so you can see if things are set just right. It’s amazing what a difference a few seconds or slight grind adjustment can make.

This morning, something got messed up with the grind when I was out of the room and it was really tricky for me to get it just right again. It took me about 8 tries before I got it perfect.

Oh, did I mention our machine only pulls double shots?

Yup.

Granted, I didn’t drink all 8 double shots. The girl I was working with had some and I poured a little out. I estimate I probably consumed the equivalent of 8-12 espresso shots though in about 15 minutes. About the last one a guy sitting at the counter mentioned we must get wired at work.

And that’s when I felt it.

Within a few minutes it felt like my whole body was shaking. My hands? Visible tremors. And I immediately feared I would never sleep again.

Now, I’m a fairly upbeat person. At work that is amplified for obvious reasons. As a barista I believe a good word to describe me would be chipper. Me, as a barista, on 12 shots of espresso? Ho.ly. moly.

I felt like my mouth was a runaway train. I talked a million miles an hour. I couldn’t stand still. I was giggling about nothing. Frankly, I was annoying myself. Ugh.

The worst part was we weren’t busy so I had nothing to use my excess energy on. I was all “Quick, what counteracts coffee?

Coworker- “Uh, beer…?

I actually considered it for half a second. Except it was like 9am. Oh and the pesky getting fired thing. I still like my job thankyouverymuch.

I really felt like I could have run a mile. You know, like one of those cartoon characters where all you see is the trail of smoke?

Instead I just drank a ton of water and tried to take deep breaths. And tried not to be so freaking annoying. Seriously. Who let me around caffeine?

It’s about 7pm now and I’m just starting to get sleepy. Pretty good considering I only got four hours of sleep last night. And that it’s been ten hours since I consumed any caffeine.

I learned my lesson though. I still have to taste the espresso when I calibrate things every morning. From now on though? I’ll remember to just sip a little instead of downing the whole thing.

After all, I do want to actually sleep at some point.

Covered in coffee

Today I left work covered in coffee from head to toe.

Seriously.

At least of the many smells I could smell like working in a restaurant type setting coffee is one of the best. Joel definitely seems to appreciate it.

The reason I was covered in coffee was because from the time we opened at 7am we were slammed with business. And my lovely coworker called in sick. On the busiest morning of the week. Which turned into the busiest morning we’ve had. Ever. And me left to handle it basically alone. Awe.some.

I reached the breaking point when I had rung in no less than five espresso orders and still had a line practically out the door. Thank God that was the moment one of the cashiers came over and offered to take over ringing people up which left me free to make lattes and cappuccinos like a mad woman.

Next thing I knew it was noon. I don’t know if people ate outside. I’m not even positive how more brewed coffee got made. That whole block of time is a blur of espresso grounds and steaming milk. There was much splashing and spillage. Hence my being covered in coffee and the whole bar area looking like a Javanese war zone. If the Javanese used coffee as weapons, that is.

Honestly, I’ve never had so much fun at work. I work well under pressure. Just ask Joel about my getting ready last minute skills. I felt like a real barista for the first time. I cranked those drinks out. I’m fairly certain I didn’t even mess any up. Or at least not bad enough for anyone to complain. Every drink even had latte art on it. I’m just that pro.

Or something. Some of the art was more abstract. Or happy accidents like a tulip I made on one drink. The recipient probably thought I was crazy the way I was squeeing over her latte.

Me- “Ooooh! Pretty flower!”

Guest- thinking “That coffee girl has lost it

I just have to figure out how to do it again. Then I’ll go pro.

Actually, did you know they really do have World Barista Championships? I didn’t until I did the training with Intelligentsia and saw the shelf full of trophies. It’s a serious business if you get really into it.

Anyway, all the customers were actually really fantastic and totally understanding. Thank goodness it wasn’t a weekday where they were all on their way to the train. I have a feeling there would have been a lot less smiling and a lot more huffing and yelling. With everyone in a happy mood it helped keep me relaxed and having a good time.

So today was a great day despite (or maybe because) a girl called in sick. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been quite so annoyed with her. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Plus? I didn’t have to share the tips.

The coffee girl

When Joel and I were teenagers and just friends we discussed our dating lives with each other from time to time as, I assume, all friends tend to do. One girl Joel used to talk about was a barista at a coffee shop near where he worked. She was pretty cute and he went in to get coffee from her all the time. He’s adorable and was too shy to ever do more than smile at her.

He talked about her a lot though and how great the coffee she made was. I encouraged him to ask her out or, ya know, say anything to her besides his coffee order. He never did.

Now I’m glad, for obvious reasons.

Not that I think he would have ended up with her, since we’re a perfect fit and all. But you never know.

Moving on.

She quit or moved away or something because he eventually stopped seeing her. He shortly stopped frequenting that coffee house. It’s not open anymore. I’m not saying it’s related but….

Because of that girl I always make sure to wear my ring to work. Men aren’t terribly observant creatures but if they get any ideas and think to check my left hand they won’t be confused. Unless they’re the kind who view that as a challenge. But then blech.

Anyway, where I work there several people who regularly come into the store already. Two guys I see every day that I work. I assume they come in when I’m not there too. But how would I know? They’re fairly quiet and don’t seem flirty at all. I do try to be friendly and make conversation if they seem open to it as I do with all the customers who come into the store. Mostly they just sit with their faces in their laptops and work.

Yesterday I had the day off (which was fabulous) and then today, when one of the regulars came in, I asked him if he wanted his usual. He said he did and then he told me,

“Someone else made my drink yesterday. It just wasn’t the same.”

Um, aw! Complimenting me on my coffee skills gives me serious happies.

I made the guy his drink and he resumed his normal routine of quietly working. I went back to working while trying not to let my smile break my face. I get all silly and giddy when it comes to compliments. His was the second I’ve gotten.

The first was the other day when a girl tasted her latte that I made and said it was the best she’d ever had in her life. I can’t take full credit because the coffee we serve is incredible all on it’s own. But the fact that it was the best of her life must mean something. (And don’t say it’s that she rarely drinks coffee. Shut up.)

The dude saying his drink wasn’t the same unless I make it made me remember Joel’s coffee crush. Not that I assume those guys have crushes on me. She probably didn’t assume that either. I just think it’s fun to have regulars. It’s fun to know what someone’s drink is before they order it. And it’s by far the most fun to be told I make awesome espresso.

Now I’m a coffee girl and this one? Is a huge sucker for compliments.

Wordless Wednesdays: My Heart Will Go On

First world problems

I got a super short night of sleep last night. Thankfully it was longer than originally scheduled. I left work around 11:45pm (an hour and 15 mins later than scheduled. Stupid last minute rush that made me tips so never mind.)

On the original schedule I was supposed to be at work at 4:30 the next morning. Not the shortest night of sleep I’ve ever had but dang.

Also, yuck.

Thank god my manager is a nice person and that was a scheduling mistake not a purposeful attempt to make coffee essential to my survival. I didn’t complain about it because I know we’re kind of short staffed and didn’t want to be a whiner. She actually realized it and went out of her way to find someone to switch with me. She actually told me it woke her up in the middle of the night. This made me laugh because 1. Aw, that’s nice and 2. I would so do something like that.

My switch wasn’t too much later though. I still had to be back at work at 6:30am. So a short night but more reasonable than the nap I was going to be stuck with before.

With four hours of sleep and a “taste test” of the espresso shots I was fairly functional. What? We definitely have to do that. So what if the girl who actually opened already had done it. It needed to be done.

Shut up.

We weren’t super busy either so I didn’t have too many opportunities to spill hot coffee all over anyone. I get clumsy when I’m sleepy.

I did get called stupid though which is always fun. Math isn’t my strong point in the first place. When I’ve had very little sleep? Bah. So yeah, the receipt paper ran out and I accidentally put the wrong type of paper in the machine. That meant nothing printed out and I hadn’t noticed the change that was due. Whenever these things happen? I panic. I can do math. Adding, subtracting, multiplying… I can do it. When I panic however? It’s much harder.

I took a breath to try and figure it out (I had to remember the price too) and tried to make a joke about it being early. Instead of laughing the lady was all “No, it’s just your generation. You’re useless without computers.” She then proceeded to tell me the change she was due.

Whatever lady. Psh. I know I’m not stupid but it’s cool if you think so. Super speedy math skills is not the only sign of intelligence. At least I can write good.*

Everyone else was super nice and I even was taught a new drink by a customer. Obviously I don’t know how to make all coffee drinks but if someone can tell me what goes in a drink I can totally try to make it. The drink was a Cuban which is a double shot of espresso extracted with raw sugar. So yummy.

Bonus: Naturally I had to try this new drink. Because obviously.

One of the owners came in later in the morning and ordered a coffee. Until they figure out something different the policy is that everyone pays for everything from the store. It’s definitely weird charging the owner for a cup of coffee but whatever, there’s no confusion then.

As he was paying he was pulling money out of his pockets and putting it on the counter while complaining about carrying around way too much change.

Ok, now I don’t know about you, but when I feel like I have “too much change” that generally means too many pennies and nickels. Maybe dimes. Quarters and up? I’ve never felt I had too much. Maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, the change the owner was pulling out of his pockets mostly consisted of quarters and dollars. And a ten dollar bill. All this change of which there was just too much? He proceeded to dump into our tip jar. It was like twelve-fifteen dollars, people!

I’m not sure if I was clear about the fact that there was a ten dollar bill.

I wasn’t sure if he was serious but yep, he totally was. He laughed about it and then I made some awkward joke about wishing I had the problem of my pockets being too full of money. Tough life.

So yeah, I take this as a sign the store is doing well. The owners are walking around weighted down with annoying little ten dollar bills they have to get rid of.

Like I said, first world problems.

*Yes, I know that’s bad grammar. Irony people.

Hearts of coffee

I love coffee. Like, a lot. I tend to have an addictive personality so to prevent brown teeth and headaches I limit my coffee to just special treats. Still, I do love coffee.

Several months ago I was offered a job as a barista at a little shop that was planning to open soon. Construction took longer than expected but I’m finally getting started. Yesterday and today I was privileged to have training at Intelligenstia roasting works in Chicago. We learned the art of making espresso. Yes, it’s an art.

We also were taught actual latte art.

Lovely isn’t it?

It is NOT as easy as it looks. At. All.

However, it is so much fun. I know so much about espresso now and the drinks that are made with them. Obviously there is much I don’t know. There is so much more science behind making coffee than you’d ever expect. Our trainer used all kinds of big words that I was only remotely familiar with. Since I’m a giant nerd though I found it fascinating. It helped that our trainer was one of the coolest people I’ve met in a long time. I want to be her. Just a little though.

We have orientation on Monday. The store is set to open mid-late August. I’m excited. But also nervous. Mostly excited though. I have a feeling that I’m really going to love this job.

I also have a feeling that avoiding coffee addiction? Won’t be possible for much longer.

I’m ok with that.

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