Barista – Mike James

Stan T.

Day in the life of
Barista – Mike James

Mike James

Being a barista got me through college and grad school. In fact, now that I think about it, this must be a family tradition. My sister was the best barista at Borders Bookstore when that was a thing.

If I was on the opening shift, I was in charge of the keys. I opened the café, checked the cleanliness of the previous pm shift, unloaded the dishwasher, made sure the cooler display was full of samples and at the appropriate temperature. I checked the stock in the back room. Then, I took a few deep breaths, found my zen, and readied myself for the rest of the staff arriving…then the morning customer onslaught.


Being a barista is a bit like being a bartender. The best part is (most) customers aren’t drunk, yet everyone cherishes your cuppa as dearly as a dry martini. People share the stories of their day, their work struggles, and their most intimate detail—how they like their coffee. I also loved the comradery of colleagues. I don’t know what it is about cafés, but don’t they just attract the most efficient yet free-loving folk?

The early hours are great because you can still go to class in the afternoons or evenings and if you get your job done, no one minds if you do some studying. It seems that reading and typing are practically a requirement in the café environment.


  1. Colleagues who didn’t thoroughly perform the previous day and left a mess for the am shift
  2. Pre-caffeinated and demanding customers, lacking in empathy for the service industry
  3. Myself (truth: when one has larger goals, one’s head isn’t always in the game of #serviceindustry.)

Thankfully, there’s something about Starbucks training that’s like being trained to be a robot. Stoicism and compartmentalization. Letting the pettiness go. Serve a drink, run the credit card and move on. These are true work-life balance lessons. This mindset translates to the most rigorous professional and personal challenges.

Mike James
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prepare or serve specialty coffee or other beverages. Serve food such as baked goods or sandwiches to patrons.

Salary: $28910
Salary Rank: D
Education: No degree required
Becoming One: Very Easy
Job Satisfaction: Low
Job Growth: Low
Suitable Personality: The Builder