easy as pi

with our recent newbie outbreak there's been A LOT of confusion at bar. wrong recipes, re-steamed milk and old shots are par for the course when training someone new, but i've been shocked at the amount of "seasoned baristas" who have their own special way of making drinks. admittedly bux has some recipes that can make your head spin (seriously - equal pumps of peppermint AND chocolate in a drink! can you say "diabetes in a cup"?) and of course when a newbie thinks they've finally mastered the 3,4,5 syrup recipe, along comes a rush of customers who order the exceptions to the rule.

most newbies will master the bar in a few weeks (but you should see their terrified faces the first time they have to fly solo) and it will become their responsibility to help the more recent newbies learn recipes and food handling procedures. each barista has their own preferred method of remembering how to make drinks. the method taught to me, and which i now pass down to others, was the "latte base" method. basically, most bar drinks are based off of a latte (espresso, steamed milk, topped with foam) so if you know how to make a latte, you can pretty much figure out how to make the rest of the drinks.

example: a cappuccino is a latte with equal parts steamed milk and foam. a vanilla latte is a latte with vanilla. a cafe mocha is a latte with chocolate syrup and whipped cream instead of foam. an eggnog latte is a latte with steamed eggnog instead of steamed milk with nutmeg on top of the foam.

see? simple.
of course there are some drinks that have their own set of rules and these are the drinks many baristas THINK they're making properly, but of course they aren't.

example: a caramel macchiato is a latte with vanilla and caramel on top - except it gets one pump less of vanilla than a regular vanilla latte and the espresso gets poured over the foam (afer the vanilla, milk and foam have been put in the cup).

far too many baristas aren't aware that they are adding too much vanilla, or that they are making the drink "upside down". and the baristas that DO know how to make them correctly usually make the iced venti version incorrectly. just today my new assistant manager tried to ridicule me in front of a newbie because i put only four pumps of vanilla into an iced venti caramel macchiato.

"that's not how you do it!" he rolled his eyes at me. "i was told you were a superstar on bar. why are you teaching her to do it the wrong way?"
"what's wrong about it?" i asked, although i knew full well he was going to make the same mistake most baristas make when it comes to this drink.
"iced venti drinks get an extra pump of syrup!" he exclaimed.
"the iced venti caramel macchiatos don't," i replied.
"yes they do," he put his hand on his hip for emphasis.
"why don't you look it up," i suggested and continued to help the newbie at bar.
"you look it up!" he shot back like he was on the schoolyard.
"fine," it was my turn to roll my eyes.

of course my new assistant manager played the "oh, they must have changed the recipe" card when the recipe in the book proved me right. and of course he's wrong - again.

customer rant: i'm sorry you hate your job and i'm sorry you hate your manager - really i am. i know how much it sucks to be scheduled against your availability and i know it's equally rotten when you're understaffed, but please don't make your customer's experience suck as well. i ordered my drink politely. i tossed money in the tip jar. so why, instead of calling out my drink, did you merely place it on the bar so you could continue your tirade about how much you hate your store. when i thanked you for my drink you responded with a "yeah, whatever". i promise you, the customer will remember to never tip again if you keep this attitude up.


Beth said...

I love being able to show up the snarky assistant manager. Brat scores!

Writeprocrastinator said...

"you look it up!" he shot back like he was on the schoolyard. "fine," it was my turn to roll my eyes.

of course my new assistant manager played the "oh, they must have changed the recipe" card when the recipe in the book proved me right. and of course he's wrong - again."

Funny that, how they would change the recipe card, hmmm.

I admire your restraint in not writing "you suck" on his PeeChee folder or filling his locker full of shaving cream. Plus you didn't say, "you. Me. 3:20 behind the quad and you'd better be there or I'll come over to your house and your ass, first thing in the morning."

Oh, wait a minute, this *isn't* the schoolyard. Before he comes back from lunch, grease his apron before he puts it on.

Hoodlum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ospite said...

there's always a secret pleasure when the ass.manager claims you're mistaken, when really you prove their lack of intelligence, toss in a wee bit of humiliation, and then the newbie decides to permanently trust you instead.

BoB said...

Hey, where was the pi?

The Pensive Penguin said...

Yeah, I want pi.

Ms. K said...


Isn't it fun to prove to certain people that they're not as smart as they THINK they are? Yeah, I love it, too....because it's a)too easy, and b)making some pompous asshat look like an idiotic jerk is fun!

And oh, of course, they changed the recipe. Uh-huh. Suuuure. Because, of course, that could be the only reason, not that he's a moron, noooo, they MUST have changed the recipe.

Thus, he assures that no one will ever trust him again, or take him seriously.

Score one for the Brat!

Sling said...

sounds like you have a good system for remembering drinks.Kudos on taking asst. manager down a notch!

andy ming said...

Smart brat you are! As for the Asst. Manager, too bad, admitting a mistake is a step toward self-improvement, and somehow I am pretty sure someone will be Assistant Manager for a looooong time (or quits).

Anonymous said...

She shoots...she scores!

Wow, you are the queen of restraint! Honestly, I would've laughed in his face.

Good one Brat...good one!

SkippyMom [wouldn't let me post the other way...so I am Anonymous SkippyMom today! lol]

Kiz said...


...happy? K

BoB said...

not really, I want it symbolically

numbers are for monkeys, err engineers

Coffeypot said...

The assistant manager is still the boss. And boss spelled backwards is double s o b.

Glassmeow said...

...and then you get customers like me. I'm sitting in a Bux and am sipping on a Tall Skinny (nonfat) Chai and Pumpkin Spice Latte. And it Rocks!

barista brat said...

beth - i wish you could have seen the look on his face.

writeprocrastinator - haha, i think i would have respected him more if he called me out for a playground brawl.

hoodlum - i've complained to customers before, but i've never been rude to them just because i'm in a pissy mood. one of my managers was fired because customer and partner complaints, so i know that bitching to customers can force upper management to make changes.

ospite - it's true, once a newbie sees through a manager, they are forever loyal to those who shoot straight.

bob, the pensive penguin - i think kiz gave you the pi!

ms k. - yeah, the guy isn't nearly as smart as he thinks he is. i'm sure he will give me plenty of fodder for the blog.

sling - thanks!

andy ming - or they might promote him!

skippymom - haha, i didn't laugh but i did smirk.

kiz - was that off the top of your head? haha.

coffeypot - love it!

barista brat said...

glassmeow - chai and pumpkin?!? how did you come up with that one?

Anonymous said...

umm wow your assistant sucks it sounds like.. they dont know the greatness that is u brat comma barista.. u should get a transfer asm in there, one that knows their ish!

00goddess said...

When I worked at bux, only the caramel went in on top. They went over it in training with us, actually, about how it was a SPECIAL drink and so macchiato meant something SPECIAL with that drink only.

I love reading your blog. I miss working at bux sometimes. I don't think I am rehirable, but I am tempted to write to the company asking if I could be... I would love to do about 20 hours a week during the summer and then like one day a week during the school semester. If I wasn't relying on bux, if it was only a part-time job and I didn't have shitty managers, I think I would love it.

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