Behind the Scenes with a Barista
Local barista Breanna Brandon dishes on coffee and customer satisfaction.
Half-calf, short, soy, triple shot, ristretto shot latte.
Coffee orders are like fingerprints — no two are ever the same. Yet, like Santa Claus on Christmas morning, a skilled barista is somehow able to grant every unique request. So what is the secret to mastering one of the most cherished, and possibly dangerous jobs ever?
Breanna Brandon, barista at Java coffee shop in Westport, lets us in on a few secrets.
Breanna spent the past eight years around it, and even moved from Idaho to Connecticut to start up Java. “I love coffee,” she says “I love drinking it and learning about it.”
Breanna quickly found that there was so much to learn about working a coffee shop — beyond just learning about how to make coffee! On a daily basis she’s the recipient of angry, under caffeinated costumers, demanding fancy lattes and other complicated drinks. Hoping to avoid any more purposely spilled drinks or hissy fits, Breanna spent a weekend in Manhattan to become a true coffee connoisseur. After ten espresso shots and a six-hour workshop about coffee chemistry, Breanna was ready to create any crazy coffee drink that came her way.
“[Baristas] learn the art of costumer satisfaction,” she says with a chuckle.
Each day Breanna heads to Java to satisfy costumers, which range from commuters in suits to mothers in need of a 2 p.m. rush to pick up their preteens from school.
“The business men usually order simple, straight drinks. The moms with their girlfriends tend to order the fun, decaf coffees. The high school kids tend to go for the sweeter drinks, like vanilla lattes,” she says, noting trends she’s seen of the downtown crowd.
It’s not only age that affects coffee trends. Seasons, Breanna notes, influence coffee popularity. Iced, blended drinks are popular during the summer, and hot, creamy drinks get ordered much more in the winter months (Java’s famous mocha, Bowl of Soul, is a fan favorite). In Westport, food trends such as almond milk and gluten-free, also cross over into the coffee world.
While the trends may change, and the rushes come and go (weekdays between 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. are Java’s busiest times), to Breanne, life as a Barista is more than just coffee and to-go cups.
“Coffee is a creative outlet,” she says. “I get to talk to people all day. [Barista’s] learn to communicate, speak better and become great listeners. Coffee shops are a culture and a kind of community in itself.”
So why do people love coffee so much? Breanna thinks the answer is more than just the taste.
“It’s a treat,” she says. “Coffee is a daily treat. You get to walk around with a cozy cup in your hand, and really cherish the break in your day. It’s more than the coffee, it’s the smell, the service, and the great conversations that could be had over a mug.”
44 Church Lane