Baristas and their managers often focus on the tools that allow the barista to deliver a drink at the proper texture, taste, and temperature yet often neglect the support tools that make that possible. I’m talking about the secondary items that don’t get the flash or excitement of espresso machines, tamps, and milk pitchers.
When you are working a “clopen” shift, keys-in and keys-out, you will be on your feet all day long. The simple steps from the register to the espresso machine to BOH to clearing the FOH have you on the move all day long, taking thousands of steps a day. This perambulate predicament is a reality for all baristas, so footwear is essential. Having kicks that support your back and knees and provide comfort is important. There are plenty of options that look good while delivering Posturepedic support; however, I was just as happy to be wearing clunky clogs or nurse shoes. Birkenstocks are big and round, but they feel great when you are at a standstill in front of the machine for long periods. Nurse shoes like Clove and Dansko are made for walking and working long hours. Nobody works harder than nurses, and nobody cares more about their feet except maybe baristas. Birkenstocks are my current clog of choice but suit yourself.
Also, as baristas, we are subjected to many hours of intensive social interaction with many strangers, friends, regulars, and occasional combative customers. It can be an emotionally exhausting experience to constantly respond to requests and put your energy out without much in return. For this, I recommend daily mediation. Whether you engage in walking meditation, a body check-in, or a traditional, legs crossed, breathing meditation, they all will contribute to improved mental health and social resilience. Being an introvert in a very extroverted position was always essential to my success. If you are having trouble getting started, there are tons of meditation apps to motivate you. Here are a few to try out: Aura Health, Calm, and Headspace. At F+B Therapy, I’ve also created several meditations focusing on increased sensory perception to help improve your pallet when coffee tasting. Check out the Sensory Experience at fnbtherapy.com.
Finally, another often overlooked barista support tool is a good old-fashioned alarm clock. If you’re not a morning person or want to enjoy more late nights, it is essential to have a dependable alarm clock. I know we all have one built into our phones; however, late-night notifications and unnecessary radiation are all good reasons not to sleep with your phone too close. A proper alarm clock makes it possible and is there for only two purposes: keeping time and keeping you on time. I love the Dim alarm clock that gently nuzzles you awake with a slow rising light mimicking the sun. For those who need something more akin to a marching band in your room to wake up, I recommend the Sonic Bomb Dual Alarm clock. This clock is not only loud but comes with a “Bed shaker” feature that will rattle you to your feet. Finally, for the minimalist that wants a straightforward alarm clock, I would go with the One clock. Sleek design with pared-down functions, it will get the job done.
I like to consider the ‘Whole Barista’ when training and encouraging people to stay the course. Barista is a particular profession and requires specific tools, habits, and rituals to thrive and maintain for the long haul.