51ӰԺ

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

51ӰԺ

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

51ӰԺ

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

51ӰԺ

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Alex Borg poses for a photo with an accordion on Soldiers and Sailors Lawn.
Alex Borg: Her accordion anchors a ‘no-man Jimmy Buffett band’
By Patrick Swain, Culture Editor • 10:12 am
Opinion | CPCs, get off our campus
By India Krug, Senior Staff Columnist • 12:13 am

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Alex Borg poses for a photo with an accordion on Soldiers and Sailors Lawn.
Alex Borg: Her accordion anchors a ‘no-man Jimmy Buffett band’
By Patrick Swain, Culture Editor • 10:12 am
Opinion | CPCs, get off our campus
By India Krug, Senior Staff Columnist • 12:13 am

Shamelessly Compiled | Something about being a regular

Shamelessly Compiled is a biweekly blog about navigating identity, indecisiveness and living life through trial and error.
Shamelessly+Compiled+%7C+Something+about+being+a+regular
Carrington Bryan | Staff Illustrator

Hello Compilers, 

I got my first job when I was 14 working as a barista at a small cafe called Bloom Cafe in my hometown. I loved it. Every weekend I would clock in at 7:30 a.m. and arrange trays of sweet pastries, grind beans and restock the syrups and sauces. I learned how to work an espresso machine and froth milk to the perfect consistency. I would boil lavender in simple syrup for our signature lavender vanilla latte, all while nibbling on a croissant from the kitchen. 

My favorite thing about the job had nothing to do with the unlimited coffee or free sweets. My favorite thing was the people. I loved interacting with the customers. I loved to help them find a new favorite coffee or breakfast and make them feel welcome in the cafe. The longer I worked there, the more customers I began to recognize. It became easy to predict their orders or what days and times they came in. 

I still remember this cute old man who would come in every Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m. He had snowy white hair and would wear a pastel colored collared shirt. He would always order a medium mocha and a medium latte — one for him and one for his wife who would wait patiently outside in the car. Sometimes my coworkers and I would see him drive up through the windows and start to prepare his drinks before he even walked in the door. He would always beam with excitement when I would slide him his drinks before he even began his order. It was the perfect interaction to end my long work day. 

I remember another older couple who would come in every weekend. They were tall, stylish and always tanned like they just came back from the beach. They would always order a cappuccino in a mug and a salad, both of which they would enjoy outside with their dog and a book. They were some of the first people I told that I was transferring to Pitt. 

Those of you who have worked in customer service know that for every amazing customer, there are about five bad ones. Sadly, customer service jobs are extremely thankless. But it is those regulars that you can always count on to get you through your day. It is a win-win relationship — they feel special because you remember them, and you feel good because you know how to give them a great experience. 

I have not worked in food customer service in around three years, but I interact with people still in the industry everyday. My boyfriend lives in the Strip District, since he graduated from Pitt last year. Our weekend ritual consists of us walking to a local coffee shop and then occasionally finishing our day at a brewery. We are both extremely easy customers — he gets a black coffee with oat milk, and I always get a vanilla cold brew with oat milk. 

Early when he first moved in, we would frequent James Cafe. After a few visits there, we walked in the door one day and were greeted like old friends from a familiar barista. The three of us got on a first name basis — his name is MJ, and each time we go in, we slowly learn more about him. MJ has worked at James for years after he graduated art school. Now every time we walk into the cafe, he smiles at us like an old friend, “Belle and Andrew! Welcome back guys.”

Our other favorite coffee shop is arguably a Pittsburgh staple, La Prima. I grew up going to this little cafe everytime I would visit the Strip with my family. It is always busy there, the baristas working efficiently to minimize the line snaking out the door. I will never forget the day that it was our turn in line and a familiar barista just pointed at us and said, “Cold brew with vanilla and oat milk and a drip with oat milk?” We were shocked. They get hundreds of orders a day, but somehow our basic orders stand out in his mind? The next time when we went in, he did not serve us, but he still said how nice it is to see us again. We recently learned his name is CJ, and he has been working there for two years. 

Being able to build these relationships with these two baristas is extremely special to me. It also feels like I maybe spend a little too much on coffee, but that is beside the point. These people who serve and struggle all day have made room in their brain to remember something as silly as how I like my cold brew. I have been on their side of the counter, I have had long eight-hour shifts, I have had insane and crazy customers. I’ve ordered complex coffees and flavor combinations at trendy cafes. But now, I am happy to be a regular.