My first week working at Starbucks

I wake up half an hour before my alarm clock. What makes that more impressive is when you know that my alarm clock was set at 5.00AM. Even though I’m feeling excited, I also sense that I’m still a bit tired so I stay in bed until the alarm clock actually goes off. Then I get up and start my morning ritual of making some lemon water in the kitchen. While in the kitchen my mind goes over the things I read last night in the Starbucks partner guide and I repeat the mission statement for myself. ‘To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.’ They want to change the world. Actually, from today I can say: “We want to change the world.” I feel proud. A long time dream will come to realization today. I’m going to work for the brand I love so much. Today is the first day of my training as barista for Starbucks and I’m looking forward to what is to come.

I continue my morning ritual of meditation and working out, taking a shower and having breakfast. Then I get on my bike to the Starbucks store. I am way early there and order an double espresso as I usually do and sit down to read a book that I brought with me. After a while two girls join me, they’re also getting trained today. A little later our trainer sits down at our table and tells that we’re gonna start with a coffee tasting. I’ve done those before and they’re quite interesting. It’s a process of smelling, slurping and actually drinking the coffee. Then you have to describe which flavours you smell and taste. That can be all kinds of things like fruit, nuts or chocolate. Funny sidenote is that when I told my grandma about this, she said that if they’d ask her what she would taste she’d say: “I taste coffee”. I think in the past I would have given the same answer, but today I’m actually learning to taste more. The coffee tasting continues and we’re eating some delicious lemon cake. It’s amazing how just a bite of that brings out the tones of citrus in the coffee even more. I always thought that it would be hard to taste those kind of flavours in coffee, but actually when you’re paying attention it’s quite easy to find distinctive flavours.

Coffee tasting
Tasting Frappuccinos
Going creative with my nametag
Tasting iceteas

Besides the coffee tastings we learn a lot today about the store and the history of Starbucks. There is an enormous information overload, but fortunately as a Starbucks fan I already know quite a bit. In the afternoon I’m learning to make cappuccino’s and latte’s. It’s not that hard to make a single one, but I can imagine it must be a lot more challenging if you have to make ten in a row. Also latte art still seems far away, but I hope I can learn to make some nice coffee figures in the coming weeks or months. The day flies by and before I know it, it’s four-thirty and the day is over. We end the day with cleaning the store for the evening which is actually nice work. It’s interesting how the store that I visit almost every day looks different from the backside of the bar. Instead of being a visitor, I am now one of the team to deliver the Starbucks experience. I’m proud and thankful for this opportunity. Being a barista has been a long time dream that I’ve left aside in the past, because of my business etc. but I’m glad that I have now taken the step to follow this dream and combine being an entrepreneur with being a barista. The web development work at my computer is a good combination with the social work of making coffee and providing a welcoming coffee place. There is still so much to learn, but I’m very excited and hope I’ll catch up with everything very soon so I can be a great addition to the team. It’s nice that I already know everyone that works here and that they know me. Tomorrow I’ll have a workday for my own business again, nice alternation between the two kinds of jobs.

The Wednesday working for Webpuccino is quite busy. Now that I have less days in the week to work for my own business, I have to do more on the days that I got. Even though it’s busy, I enjoy it. I have a meeting with a client in the morning and stay at friends’ office the rest of the day. On Thursday the training at Starbucks continues. Today we’re making Frappuccino’s. It’s quite challenging in the beginning. There are so many flavours and combinations: strawberry, caramel and coffee frappuccino’s with or without whip cream and then tons of possible customisations. There is a lot to learn, but it’s also fun. As I’m walking through the coffee place in the afternoon I’m thinking about how I’m doing something I really enjoy and that it’s also my work now. I think that is a blessing. It’s hard work, but also a great experience. On Friday we get to work with the registers and here the challenge of having so many variations comes back. Slowly you learn where to find all drinks. We’re making more hot and cold drinks together with the experienced barista’s. It’s amazing to see how team work is the key here. Everything needs to go very fast when it’s busy and you need to be fully concentrated. One person talks with the customer and prepares the cup while another makes a hot drink and a third person makes the cold drinks. It’s an energetic dynamic of working together and time is flying by again. Soon the day is over and it’s time for weekend. We end the day with a cold drink at the terrace.

I think the most challenging part of this adventure for me is to be a beginner again. I’ve been a web developer half my life and can call myself an expert in that field. I still need to learn new things from time to time, but it’s on top of my existing knowledge. Being a barista is completely new for me and I need to learn everything from the start. Fortunately the team here is very patient and supportive. It’s a great learning environment. Next week I’ll start doing more work on my own. I thought of that as more challenging, but my grandma has a better perspective: “Even more fun to come!”

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