Written by Nossa Familia's Espresso Bar manager, Lily Wilson
As baristas, we’ve heard it all from our customers: “You never smile!” “I’m not snobby like you, I’m fine drinking gas station coffee.” “Your music choice sounds like dying whales over a chorus of chainsaws.” “Do you wear anything other than black...or flannel?” “Oh look, another barista with a Kurt Vonnegut tattoo.” “Why are you wearing a beanie in July?”
The truth is, yes, many of us wear flannels, have literary tattoos, listen to music “you’ve never heard of” and wear knit hats even in 97-degree weather. But, there are some stereotypes that just don’t apply to the majority. In fact, some of us are out there everyday (even on the weekends) on the front lines attempting to combat those ever-present cliches circulating the coffee and service industry, one smile at a time. We may not be Starbucks-style-customer-service champions, but we won’t scoff at you for ordering dark roast coffee or think you’re a horrible parent if your child breaks a water glass.
More so now than ever, we need to be kind to one another. We need to help each other out. We need to recognize the humanity in everyone we meet. We need to understand that just because someone hasn’t worked in the service industry, that does not make them the devil incarnate. Coffee-drinking customers (and their friends who just need to use the bathroom) are the reason we have jobs. Without them, who would Instagram our beautiful latte art, comment on our delicious cappuccinos, or ask us where we got that awesome vintage Pixies t-shirt? The truth is, we all need each other. And that’s why we’ve created this list.
5 Reasons Your Nossa Familia Barista Loves You:
1. You don’t call us out when you see us on our phones when you walk in the door.
We’ve all done it--pulled out our phones in the middle of something important: a work meeting, a movie theater, your cousin’s wedding ceremony, gynecology appointment. It’s just part of our culture now. And as much as we want it to look like we’ve been standing patiently at our post awaiting your arrival like the second coming, sometimes we just have to Facebook stalk our high school boyfriend, or see who liked our pic, or text Mom to tell her we love her. So, we thank you for letting it slide when you see us look up and sneak our phones back into our pockets.
2. You tell us how nice it is that we have a wide spectrum of coffee roasts
Light roast coffees are known in Third Wave Coffee to be more “flavorful” and have more “interesting” tasting notes, such as prickly pear, fermented kumquat or candied persimmon. That may be true, but there’s something to be said about a good dark roast coffee. Our country was built fueled by dark sludge hot from the campfire. Do you think those railroad workers were sitting there on their breaks commenting on the “well-rounded, bright and fruity, well-balanced, yet subtle caramel undertones” in their enamel mugs? Do you think Tom Booker, the horse whisperer, was sipping a washed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe before wrangling and branding his cattle with a firm, yet gentle hand? Dark roast coffee is part of the American Dream. Some people want fruit in their cup, some people want chocolate. Give the people what they want, or you’ll be shunning away an entire demographic of cowboy wannabees, rich from all that oil their great-grandfather owned. That’s why at Nossa Familia, we’ll always offer at least two drip coffee options to satisfy different tastes.
3. You know what you want and you aren’t afraid to ask for it
If you walk into a salon and you say to the hairdresser, “I want a little off the sides, keep the top long, maybe a bit of a fade on the left. I want the top dyed red and the rest of it bleached blonde,” chances are you’ll get a whole body eyeroll, but they’ll oblige. In the end, it’s you, the customer, who has to live with your decision, not the hairdresser. If you want your head to look like the top of a strike-anywhere match, then you go for it! Same goes for coffee. If you want a six shot, 24oz sugar-free vanilla, decaf, soy cappuccino, extra hot, who are we to say “no,” as long as you’re paying for it? We don’t have to drink it. So, what’s the issue? We should be celebrating people’s individual tastes, instead of sneering at them. This is OUR America, people! Don’t let people bully you into becoming a boring version of yourself. We’re better than that!
4. You bring your dog into the cafe!
Dogs: 100x better than children, 200x better than adults. When I see a dog enter through the door of my workplace, I apologize to whoever’s drink I’m making or whoever’s money I’m taking and immediately throw myself onto the floor, so I can be covered in slobbery wet kisses. I get it--health code, blah, blah, blah. But, petting your dog is the one thing keeping my soul from sinking into the dark pit of despair that is the service industry. I’ve even grown a small dog watching business from the regulars that bring their dogs in to say “hi.” If that doesn’t spell COMMUNITY, I don’t know what does. In all honesty, I’ll probably know your dog’s name before I remember yours, so please don’t leave your dog at home, so I have someone to address when you walk in the door.
5. You take alternative modes of transportation to get to us.
Traffic in the city is bad and getting worse every day. Driving is just another time for us to sit on our asses and look at our phones, while our car idles on I-5, bumper to bumper with diesel trucks and other drivers who are contemplating driving off the side of the Fremont Bridge. But, there are options and we love when you use them. There’s a huge difference between interactions with customers who just sat in traffic for 45 minutes, are late to work, want their coffee LIKE NOW, and are pissed we don’t have free parking, as opposed to the customers who just biked 15 miles along the river, are bursting with endorphins and are happy to drop an extra sweaty dollar into the tip jar, because DAMN, do they feel good! Plus, the environment. So, we thank you for walking, busing, biking, running, skipping, skating, blading, or horseback riding to get to us. You’re making a difference in the way we commute and for that, we’re ever grateful.