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Keriss101 / Spoon

I Was a Starbucks Barista, and Here’s the TEA!

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at KU chapter.


“Welcome to Starbucks, what can I get started for you?”

Whenever I tell people that I used to work at Starbucks, they act like I just told them I cured cancer or something. I guess it’s because I worked there for so long that I forgot how glamorous my job seems from an outsider’s perspective. Anyways, I always get asked a laundry list of questions from people curious about the lives of the green-aproned magicians. So I wanted to take a minute to answer some of the things I am most frequently asked; the TEA on Starbucks!

phone, headphones, and coffee with foam art
Juja Han on Unsplash

Q: Do you know how to make all the drinks?

A: For some reason, this is always the first question I get asked, and to me, it seems self-explanatory- my whole job is to prepare beverages! Learning all of the drinks takes up a hefty portion of the training process, since I had to first go through an online training program of the basic drinks, then do in-person bar practice sessions. But even after a year of working there, every once in a while I would forget some small detail. How many shots of syrup are in blonde drinks? Do Mocha Frappuccinos get drizzle? Luckily, someone on the shift usually remembers. If not, the computer system automatically tells you the recipe for each drink.

Q: What’s your favorite drink?

A: At pretty much every shift I worked, I could be seen drinking my iconic Venti Peach White Tea with half the sweetener. If I’m craving coffee, I always get blonde shot drinks. I’ve always been a sucker for hazelnut, so a Grande Iced Blonde Hazelnut Latte is typically my beverage of choice.

Q: Does everyone at Starbucks know the secret menu?

A: The “secret menu” is in no way affiliated with Starbucks, and I’m like 99.9% sure that no one employed at the company has the drinks memorized. I certainly didn’t! If you find a secret menu drink you want to try, be sure to have a recipe ready to give your barista, because if you ask for a Rainbow Butterscotch Cookie Frappuccino, they’ll just blankly stare at you.

The Lalastarbucks Coffee And Sunglasses
Her Campus Media

Q: Is it stressful?

A: Short answer, yes. It can be. But you become really accustomed to working quickly and under pressure to the point that you forget to be stressed. My store was primarily a drive-thru location due to its proximity to the highway, so rush hour was usually insane. But it’s very much a team effort, and the timing of everything is down to a science, a well-oiled machine. But something inevitably happens every shift, be it a barista calling in sick or running out of green tea. You have to be very adaptable and quick on your feet, because each day is different.

Q: What’s the hardest drink to make?

A: None of the drinks are particularly difficult to make, but some of them are more inconvenient than others. Iced Cloud Macchiatos were always pretty time consuming since you need to use the blender and the espresso machine. Also, an entire softball team getting 10 Frappuccinos gets old fast.

Q: Did you ever have any nightmare customers?

A: For me, the worst customers in the world were the people who would come through the drive-thru, taste their drink, then hand it back through the window because they wanted some tiny aspect of it fixed. We also had a pothole at the entrance to our parking lot, so we would get a lot of complaints from people saying we could’ve damaged their expensive car. Probably the worst incident we ever had was a white male customer yelling some extremely insensitive comments at a female customer of color. That day was the definition of a nightmare.

Starbucks Frapp Closeup
Keriss101 / Spoon
Q: Were you friends with any regular customers?

A: One of my favorite parts of the job was getting to know the people we saw coming through every day! Our most infamous customer was Santosh, who would come through the drive-thru 4 or 5 times per night in his delivery van and order his Short Double Latte with 3 Raw Sugars, No Foam, Extra Hot, Stirred, Double Cupped. He was always smiling, and in wintertime, he made us a little hat for the snowman we made by the hand-off window. I personally had a soft spot for Mark and Marsha, an older married couple with matching Harry Potter glasses who would order one Venti Americano and split it between the two of them (if my future husband and I aren’t like this, I don’t want him). But our favorite regular customers by far were the drive-thru dogs. Whenever a doggo came through, the entire staff would crowd around the window to say hi. Sometimes, we would remember the name of a dog, but not their owner! Handing out Puppy Whips, which are little shot glasses of whipped cream, to good puppers was honestly the best part of any day.

Q: Did you like being a barista?

A: At the end of the day, I really did love my job. The people I worked with were incredibly encouraging, and when we weren’t brewing coffee or getting to know customers, we were cracking jokes and making memories with each other. My store in particular was notorious for having a community culture among the baristas. The perks were also fantastic: free drinks on the clock, 30% off at any location, free bag of beans every week, and even free Spotify Premium!

That’s all from this barista. “See ya at the window!”


Hi!! I'm a junior at the University of Kansas studying Strategic Communication with minors in Theatre and Spanish! I love all things media and thoroughly enjoy music, coffee, sea turtles, and The Office. I'm SO glad you're here!! :)