Appreciation from a Barista Grommet

I am a barista grommet.

By that I mean I am the setup, cleanup, smile-and-nod apprentice to our talented baristas at the local shop. The term ‘barista’ here refers to the dedicated coffee geek, the borderline-obsessed manic coffee drinkers and scientists that live off of the brew. You don’t just drink coffee here… You literally breathe it, eat it and sleep on it. It’s not uncommon to see one of our crew burying their faces deep into a bag, inhaling as though they can’t get enough oxygen, emerging with wide smiles and exclamations of, “Black pepper….and QUESO!”
Nor is it an unusual sight to see furrowed brows, deeply etched lines emerging from worried foreheads and hear long, drawn-out groans of disappointment as latte art goes astray.

“It was that pour-through,” the barista will say dejectedly, washing impeccably steamed milk and high quality ‘spro down the drain in the search of perfection.
How many people, I wonder frequently, know nothing about coffee…and drink it every day of their lives? The idea seems unfathomable, although it can be likened to the amount of people (like myself) who drive around in automobiles and are clueless as to how they run.
It feels like it should be ingrained in our nature to care about something that holds society together. How many times in my life have I met with a friend over coffee? How many mornings have been vastly improved by a sip of joe? How many meaningful moments have I spent with a warm mug in my hand, oblivious to the tiny link that helps humanity cultivate community?
It is with that in mind that I watch people day in and day out put lids over perfect rosettas, wondering if they took that split second to appreciate the design, the definition of microfoam against crema.

I am happy to play supporting cast to my barista pros, grinning more than either the barista or customer as one will say to the other, “This is just too lovely to drink!”
It’s okay if a customer gives it a passing nod. It’s okay if the barista responds with a frustrated, “Thats awful, I could have done better.” Even if it drives me crazy.

The important thing to know is this: baristas everywhere, I have enough appreciation to span the world. I admire your stretched milk talents from afar and I promise I would not put a lid on any latte you serve me. I may be just a barista grommet, cleaning spills and scrubbing dishes clean… But I am watching with mad appreciation from the register, and you can guarantee I’ll be grinning.

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