“Why did the hipster barista burn his mouth on coffee?”
“Because he drank it before it was cool!”
This article caught my attention recently:
Just over 1700 people applied for 3 full time and 5 part time positions at Costa Coffee?
That is both terrifying and really depressing. (For Canadian readers, Costa Coffee is a UK based chain, like Second Cup, only owned by a brewery).
The article suggests that the job vacancies were so popular because being a Barista is now cool and fashionable. Beware the rise of the Hipster Barista! I disagree though. I think this is just demonstrative of the utter desperation of the rising number of unemployed and underemployed young people in the UK. Apparently Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for
Wankers and Penpushers Work and Pensions was asked to comment on this, and the smug prick said the applicants should “learn from the experience” – what, of filling out a one page job standardised application form with tick boxes? Or the experience of being repeated rejected for unskilled minimum wage jobs? A good friend messaged me today to apologise and confess that he’d applied for a job at Starbucks, even though he hates the coffee, hates company after their tax dodging and knows how unethical they are – but he has no choice. Frankly, that situation is sickening.
Again, this has nothing to do with the desire to become a Hipster Barista. I do not doubt for a second that some, (like me) genuinely want to work in coffee shops, but if you are serious about coffee, then you are highly unlikely to aim for the chains. Working in a chain coffee shop is not glamorous – this article, and the hipster wannabes seem to forget that the job also entails dealing with occasional rude, fussy, ignorant customers, washing up, cleaning toilets, mopping floors and often as not, burning yourself on the panini press, all for little more than minimum wage. (Not to say these things don’t get done in an independent places too, just that it is somehow more demeaning when you’re working for a faceless corporation!!). When times are tough though, working in a chain coffee shop is probably the least horrible of the very few horrible options.
I’m not entirely sure why the coffee world is already so entwined with hipsterdom. I suppose it’s an opportunity to get very geeky and knowledgeable and dare I say it, snobbish about a commodity that is taken for granted by “normal” people. Spending all day in coffee shops is a very middle class luxury (having time to waste as well as the money!) and coffee shops, particularly independent ones, are still considered more sophisticated than pubs. And given the most of the world is going broke right now, coffee remains a cheaper thing to get ‘gourmet’ about: the hipster barista is a more economical version of the wine snob, whiskey connoisseur or the posh foodie!
I have met numerous candidates for the designation of Hipster Barista, but some aspects of the stereotype are worryingly close to home!! I don’t wear fake plastic glasses or skinny jeans but I do wear the scarf (see below), I don’t drag my hair into a bun on top of my head, but I do have coffee-related tattoos. I am very much a carnivore and wouldn’t even consider veganism and I don’t smoke, but I do get very annoyed with people asking for “just a coffee” or “no-foam cappuccinos”. I don’t understand, let alone use Instagram, yet I do tweet photos of any latte art I create that looks more technical than Abstract Blobbage. Finally, I get enraged by the total lack of graduate jobs that leads to the situation described above, yet I have three, totally non-vocational social science degrees!
Here’s the original Hipster Barista meme doing the rounds of the interwebz:
(Actually, I have it on relatively good authority that the bloke in this photo, Dustin Mattson of Octane Coffee, is entirely un-hipsterish. So this is used for illustration purposes only – you get the general idea!)
Pff… well if you can’t beat them, join them! (Just remember what I said about cleaning toilets). I wish everyone in desperate need of a job the best of luck with barista applications. Here’s my version – aged without instagram, so obviously I’m “taking bad photos before it was cool!”