Monday, October 11, 2010

Coffee Primer: Straight from the Barista

A few of you know I work part-time as a barista. For all you non-coffee savvy individuals, that means I'm the one behind the bar at the local coffeehouse making your delicious cuppa. And while I don't make latte art like this I do good work.

Cycling and coffee have gone hand in hand for as long as anyone can remember. After all, it was an Italian who first patented his design for an espresso machine back in 1901 and some of the best manual machines are still Italian-made.

I've been at the game for a while, so I'm going to answer a few common questions (and situations) that I get when I'm behind the counter. I'd better be careful, or I'll start sounding like The Waiter.
~Please read the menu posted above and behind my head. It's an amazing device that spells out most of our drinks, as well as a list of our brewed coffee(s) of the day, hot teas, and iced teas. If you aren't clear on something that's listed, then ask questions.
~A "shot" of flavor syrup (ie. vanilla) isn't the same thing as a "pump". A shot is made up of more than one pump of flavor into your coffee cup, how many pumps depends on the volume of the cup. If you aren't sure how much flavor your usual latte gets, ask.
~I'm sorry, but I see a lot of people come through my shop everyday. I may have to make your drink more than once to remember what it is and exactly how you like it. Ask for your receipt or have the barista write down the drink for you if you can't remember all the adjustments.
~Tips in the jar are love and help us to do all sorts of wonderful things. Also, it isn't a "Take a penny, leave a penny" jar or a jar for you to make change for yourself. Those are our tips and our sock monkey will know if you've abused the jar.
~The shop can be noisy during the day/night with people talking, espresso shots pulling, and steam-wands frothing milk. All that makes it hard to hear when you whisper your order, please speak up a little.
~I would be happy to take your order as soon as you finish your conversation and hang up your cell-phone. Please don't get shirty with me when I ask what you'd like while you're on your phone and there's a line out the door. Thank you in advance.
~Decaffeinated beans require more processing to remove the caffeine. Thus, decaf. is more expensive than regular. Please don't blame me.
~Add-ons and/or substitutions like extra espresso shots, decaf. instead of regular, soy milk, whipped cream on certain drinks, etc. do cost extra money. Sorry, but we have to pay to bring it to you.
~Caffeine Content Of:
One 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola Classic = 35mg
One 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew = 54mg
One 12-ounce cup of coffee = approx. 230mg
Two shots of espresso (approx. 3.5 ounces) = 180mg
~Please don't look down your nose at me [because I work at a coffee shop]. Myself and others I work with have advanced degrees in biology, engineering, comparative literature, English and many other disciplines. We're smarter, more observant, and probably have better memory than you might give us credit for. Give respect and have patience, and we'll give it back to you along with a perfect latte.

Okay, that's enough of that! Now, I don't always handle caffeine very well, we're talking climbing the walls, tap-dancing on the ceiling, chasing my tail, twitchy energy that doesn't play well inside. Everyone I work with knows that I'm allowed one small cup of coffee per shift or per day, whichever is longer. But some caffeine is okay when I'm on a ride, it gives me that extra kick I usually need 11 miles into my ride. Two-shot espresso with two Raw Sugars, please! And then I add three creamers, swirl, consume, and I'm off again.

And you, what do you drink when you head to your local coffeehouse and/or on a ride?

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

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