Bustling away making several different drinks per minute, Shippensburg University senior Fatira Porter works five-hour shifts during the week at the campus Starbucks in between attending classes to earn her criminal justice degree.
While working in a coffee shop might have its perks like being surrounded by the smell of coffee beans in the morning and access to free drinks of your making, Porter finds herself sometimes overwhelmed by the pressure of being a barista.
Chaela Williams: When did you start working at Starbucks?
Fatira Porter: Let’s say junior year to be on the safe side. So that was last fall in 2019
CW: What’s a day like working at Starbucks?
FP: I always walk to work knowing that the day is going to be hectic. Because it is when you come in, some people do not know how to talk to people or have good customer service skills as a guest so that gets frustrating. I just know that I’m about to be overworked. It is tiring and frustrating not just to be like, I do not want to be in here right now.
CW: How many orders do you have to make in a day?
FP: I can go to the register and see how many [drinks] I made. I work from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. the majority of the time. I had like 276 [drinks] within that time frame.
CW: Do you ever get backed up to the point where you just get so overwhelmed?
FP: Yeah, it happened to me last week. it was just me and [my manager] and I had multiple jobs and drinks [to do]. I usually could do four at a time, maybe six depending on what the beverages are and I [was] running out of [ingredients].
CW: How do you keep track of all the drink combinations?
FP: I feel like a lot of the symbols and stuff that we use are common sense. It is just like the first letter of each word. So [we] abbreviate [the drinks], [We get] this barista training book with different recipes. It is always there for reference, but after a while a lot of the steps are repetitive to the point that we are just changing the flavor or coffee.
CW: How have things changed since COVID-19?
FP: Every 30 minutes there is a timer that goes off to wash your hands and then every 45 minutes a timer goes off to wipe down all surfaces like outside in the sitting area. We [have] plexiglass and there is no seating [in the ordering area].
CW: How is it like dealing with students as customers?
FP: I have a lot of favorite customers. I really, really, really love the energy of a lot of people and some people are just really respectful. But then you have people that are ignorant and you have people that have a nasty attitude.
CW: How do you juggle Starbucks with your schoolwork?
FP: I try not to work over five hours a day. I am limiting myself once we get more employees to just three days a week because I want to focus on my classes.
CW: Would you recommend working at the Starbucks here?
F: I would recommend it. I am so proud of it. The only reason I stay at my job is because I love my co-workers.