A coffee shop job: two years on

"May I have a soya, decaf, hazelnut, flat white with an extra shot, extra hot? Make it wet, please."

“May I have a soya, decaf, hazelnut, flat white with an extra shot, extra hot? Make it wet, please.”

Today marks my second year of the employment at the high street coffee shop. Some might say that part-time, student job doesn’t bring any value, other than money. I completely disagree with this statement. This job has not only boosted my bank account, but it has also given me many skills that I’m surely going to use in my future roles in PR. In this post, I decided to list those that I managed to develop.

#1 Communication skills

My favourite thing about working in this environment is the fact that you always get to talk to people. They’re different and everyone has different attitude, unique story and, obviously, favourite drink. I always try to make every customer feel special and get beyond just taking their order. I really regret that I can’t carry on with some conversationsWorking in the coffee shop has definitely helped me in developing communication skills and made my small talk much better.

As a bonus, I’ve also learnt that the best way to deal with the rudeness of customers is to combat it with kindness. Really simple, yet incredibly challenging.

#2 Teamwork and conflicts in the team

Behind the coffee shop bar, it’s all about teamwork. With the yards-long (hyperbole alert!) queues, you always need to rely on your team and they need to rely on you. Someone needs take the order for flat white, but then, between the payment and a customer leaving store with their drink, there’s someone that needs to pass this drink to baristas, who are putting the espresso shots with steamed milk.

That leads me to the other point, about conflicts in the team. Holding grudges is the worst thing to do. They’re only making the situation worse and they affect everyone. They’re really toxic and the earlier you mend fences, the better it’ll be for everyone.

Teamwork is essential in the comms job, so I believe that being amongst talented baristas, in the busy coffeehouse, really helped me with understanding what it means to be part of a team.

#3 Work ethics

Being always on time, being reliable, being trustworthy and diligent. These are just a few features that really matter in the workplace. And they don’t only matter in the coffee shop job. These are universal and transferable to any position. And you guessed it — to the PR roles, too!

#4 Time management

This especially relates to the closing shifts, when you have to clean the coffee machine and the whole bar area. You need to start preparing for that hours before your manager shuts the shutters behind the last customer. This involves a lot of multitasking and making sure everything is done in time, in correct order. We all love our work, but no one wants to stay in the store forever, due to ineffective closing.

I can’t emphasise more, how common being snowed under many projects is in the role I’d like to do in the future.

#5 Problem-solving and creative thinking

Don’t ever underestimate your barista. Coming back to my hyperbolic, yard-long queues, baristas are being shouted at with the stratospheric amount of orders. They can’t forget soya in cappuccino, caramel shot in the latte, decaf shots in flat white, cream and flake on the top of hot chocolate, two chai lattes, one of them with skimmed milk and single soya macchiato. They need to be smart and creative. Once soya milk is steamed, skilled barista can make both cappuccino and macchiato. With the beautifully steamed milk for latte, keeping in mind the flat white that is sill about to be prepared, comes in handy.

Communications industry is all about solving the problems of clients and being creative.

Nope, this is not my flat white! H/t for my colleague, Klaudia.

No, this is not my flat white! Credit for this picture and latte art goes to my colleague, Klaudia.

## Few bonus facts about my coffee journey ##

  • My persuasive skills have been developed quite significantly, thanks to this job. We’ve had the contest for the highest sales of the limited edition of the blend. Even though I was just working on the part-time basis, I was always no. 1 in the list of the sales. Not only in the store, but the whole North West London. I even got the area manager to come to our store to take a picture with me and give me an award for the numbers!
  • I know my coffee. I can talk you through the difference between latte and cappuccino. I can tell you what cortissimo shots are. I can tell you where the newest blend of the coffee comes from. I’m not, however, a coffee connoisseur — I’ll drink it, just at the times, for the energy boost. But I really can’t tell you whether coffee from Colombia is better than the Nicaraguan blend. As I’ve mentioned before — I know my coffee, but I prefer my tea. 
  • Flat white is my favourite drink. I can steam a beautiful milk for it, but my latte art is slightly poor. I can ‘draw’ a heart on the top of your coffee, but it might turn out clumsy. Very clumsy.
  • Even though I like flat white, I tend to go for an espresso for the most of the time. It’s practical. It gives me pure caffeine and I can drink it quickly. It’s my go-to choice, when grabbing networking coffees. 


If you have any suggestions, would like to guest post or give me a feedback, feel free to email me at kl.marcel [at] gmail.com, tweet me @marcelkl or connect with me on LinkedIn. Thanks for stopping by, have a splendid day!