My name is Juliet Giroux and I work as a barista at Karma Coffee in Santa Barbara. I’m a single mom and I also take courses at UCSB, working toward a degree in Communications.
Being a mother, working and school make life pretty crazy, but when I have some down time I’m a big gamer. Someone recently put me onto this blog: PixelVixen707 » Game reviews and commentary with a tasteful helping of snark. because she writes about gaming. If you haven’t checked it out, you should! I noticed that she had worked as a barista so I emailed her. We chatted about the barista job and a few other things:
Juliet: How long did you work as a barista?
PixelVixen: One summer after college. I knew I wanted to get into the newspaper biz - that's what dad did, but that's not exactly why I chose it. I ultimately got my foot in the door at the New York Journal-Ledger, and a foot is about all I have there right now. But it was enough to get me out of the coffee biz.
Juliet: I work as a barista at a small place called Karma Coffee. Did you work in a big chain place or a small independent shop?
PixelVixen: I worked at a major international chain with a topless figurehead that serves frouffy beverages, overconceived CDs and rip-off-priced wifi. I would rather not share the name.
Juliet: Say no more, I know the one. One of our big competitors. Did you enjoy working there?
PixelVixen: I resisted getting a straight office job, because I was scared it would lure me in and limit me from taking more interesting, riskier opportunities. The minute someone offers you a full-time, salaried position, you have to make a life decision - right when you've just started running up credit cards. The barista is a classy way to keep your options open, and a way to keep close to the suits without waking up and discovering you've become one.
Juliet: (Laughing) Too true. And it’s better than flipping burgers. What did you like or dislike about it?
PixelVixen: Well, it's dull and repetitious, and people sometimes treat you like an idiot. But it's fast, and I had a good crew.
Juliet: My boss, Carter Jarvis, has been doing some things to generate business that make it fun, like making us wear slutty outfits on Saturday nights and giving the drinks sexy names. I think he has some kind of BDSM fetish, but whatever, he’s a good boss and he’s super hot! So, why did you "retire" from that work?
PixelVixen: I got my "dream job" (see above).
Juliet: Are you a coffee lover?
PixelVixen: Sad to say that while I still appreciate a really excellent espresso, we never served any where I worked. I still brew a batch of something awful if I just need to stay up late.
Juliet: I never used to like coffee, but my boss is such a coffee geek it’s hard not to get into it. What do you think is sexy about coffee?
PixelVixen: You're serving people something they want and need, something that heats them and jolts them - but unlike someone who cooks up a meal, you're not maternal. You give them a quick fix to keep them going.
Interactions with customers were the same way. Yes, they came by our store for caffeine, but they also came to get a quick glimpse of an attractive twentysomething on their way to work. It's not like tending bar, because men in New York will harass a bartender. They'll talk her ear off. The total facetime with a barista is just a few moments. Chatting is discouraged; the line has to move. But for some of our customers, those were the best few moments of their day.
Juliet: My boss holds cuppings at his shop. Have you ever done cuppings? I find a lot of sensuality in that experience.
PixelVixen: Wow - no. Never heard of it, but from what I just read on Wikipedia, it sounds like tantric coffee consumption. My customers just slurped and gulped and moved on.
Juliet: Tantric coffee consumption! I love that! Did you meet you boyfriend Zach Taylor before or after the barista experience? Is he a coffee lover?
PixelVixen: I met Zach just a year ago, long after I quit the coffee grind. (Really, we referred to it that way on the job. Sad.) He and I stick to beer.
Juliet: I just started seeing a guy who came in one Saturday night when I was wearing a leather bustier and asked me out. So, I know you’re into games. Are you aware of any games that have to do with coffee?
PixelVixen: Well, surely you've heard of the "hot coffee" incident in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ... if not, most definitely look it up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_coffee.
"Hot coffee" is now an ironic reference to sex in many games, including Fable II and of course, Grand Theft Auto IV.
Juliet: So that’s where that started! I never knew that, I just know that when guys invite you to their place “for coffee”, that’s not what they mean. Any other interesting barista stories you'd like to share?
PixelVixen: I'm not a flirt. It's just not me - I'm shy, and well, not flirty. But there was one trick I learned. The cash register was on the wall opposite the counter, and sometimes when a male customer was waiting for his change - a customer who I knew had an eye for me - I would pop the register open, and after I grabbed the change, I would hipcheck it. Just a light glance off my hip, to slide it shut with a "cling." He probably forgot it by the time he sat down on his desk. But I like to think it made a difference.
Juliet: I like that. I may try it! Thanks PixelVixen, it’s been great chatting with you!
Now check out Nara Malone 's blog to find out more about Juliet and PixelVixen…