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Cyle Talley

Get Smart about what baristas really think

Ar 160709657
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Ar 160709657
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Editor’s note: We don’t make a habit of using anonymous sources in DGO, but sometimes it can be hard to be snarky and candid and keep one’s job. Rest assured, this is a real Durango barista keeping it real.

Give it up for the folks who help get you up every morning by steaming, tamping, and grinding. Listen up as our anonymous barista tells you about serving your sleepy ass every morning.

Let’s just start with Starbucks.Oh God. Well, it could be a lot worse. Durango has that whole local thing going, so that the only time Starbucks really affects me is when I serve the tourists. The locals sort of have their shop, you know? Like a Joe’s person is a Joe’s person. That’s the only place they want to go. 81301, DCC – everybody’s got their place. But Jesus, when a tourist comes in, I have to be a translator, you know? Like, OK, when they say “tall” do they mean large? They’ve [Starbucks] totally ruined a few drinks, too. A macchiatto is NOT a 20-ounce drink, and it doesn’t have any caramel in it. Or a Flat White? What the hell are they making?! And then we’re expected to make the same damn thing for the big-haired Texan lady with the huge fake boobs and the big hair!

So you feel pretty passionately about that ...They do their thing and we do ours, you know? But the whole size thing throws me every time. What even is their scale? Isn’t the grande like a medium? How did a word that means “big” turn into medium?

Be honest. How much coffee do you drink during a shift?Not as much as you think. I don’t really have time to. It’s not like I’m behind the bar all day just like sipping on a latte. I’ve got shit to do. Usually it’s like a double shot at the beginning of the shift when I’m getting the machine ready and then go go go.

What do you like best about being a barista?My regulars are so f---ing cool. Getting to know them and what they like and how they like it. For as stupid as they can be sometimes, there’s a lot of stoke in serving people, you know?

What drink do you make the most?A latte. No contest. Usually a 16 ounce. Which is funny, because people tell me that they’ve gotta have their coffee, and then they order a latte. Can I just say that a latte is not coffee? It’s milk. A lot of f---ing milk. I mean, two shots of espresso in a 16-ounce cup? That’s what, 10 percent of the cup, tops? So no, a latte is not coffee. Stop saying that. You’ve got to have your milk.

Do you judge people for their drinks?Well it’s like, what would you think if somebody asked you for a fat-free mocha with whipped cream? I mean, doesn’t all of that sorta cancel itself out? Sometimes I wonder if people even know what the hell they’re ordering. So I don’t know if it’s judging or just being sorta confused.

What’s the worst part about being a barista?That I can’t go to any coffee shop anywhere without being totally terrified that what I’m gonna get is gonna be shitty. I judge other baristas way harder than I do what people order. I’ll be standing in line in some shop and hear a person steaming milk like [makes loud whooshing sound] and immediately go, “Well, I guess I can’t get anything with milk, because that f---ker’s gonna burn the shit out of it.” Or, tamping – my partner catches me giving other baristas bitch face as they tamp shots. I’m just like staring them down as they just try to make it through a line of drinks.

What are some barista pet peeves?EXpresso. God! ESpresso. S! ESpresso! And could you please just order one thing at a time? Like, let me get all the way through the first drink before you start telling me about the next one. I mean, damn! I won’t be through asking whether their skinny mocha is iced or hot before they’re telling me about their kid’s steamer that has thirteen flavors. It’s not a race, dude. Or when people try to come in before we’re even open. I wouldn’t try to get into your office before you were open so that you could do my taxes or whatever. Wal-Mart isn’t going to let you in before they open, so why do we have to? But most mornings, there are people banging on the door like, “I need my coffee!”

And it’s usually a latte, isn’t it?[groans] It’s ALWAYS a latte.

Cyle Talley isn’t worried about the Cubs’ recent bout of suck. It’s been 100 years of losing, Cubs fans. Let’s have some perspective. If there’s anything you’d like to Get Smart about, email him at: cyle@cyletalley.com