Enter the Hipster Barista

26 Feb

“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:

Despairs of annoying internet memes...Reposts.

Despairs of annoying internet memes…

(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!”



Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , ,

5 responses to “Enter the Hipster Barista

  1. Simon Bower

    February 26, 2013 at 5:04 am

    I really did laugh out loud at this.

    Yesterday I was doing a tasting with a new company in Leeds. It is run by a business person who recognises that he doesn’t understand coffee so has recruited a few “Hipster Baristas”.

    When I arrived they were strutting round the coffee machines like male Peacocks displaying to each other. they were comparing their hair styles, green credentials and world travels. I seem to be agreed that the ones who have actually made a coffee in Australia were near the top of the heap only to be pipped to glory by the only one that had made a coffee in New Zealand too!

    Anyway, after been frowned upon by these Hipster Baristas, because clearly I am a fat middle-aged bloke with little hair, they came to make the coffee. I gave them three bags and sat down with the owner to discuss business. After about 15 minutes they had held court; the Uber-Hispter (the guy who had worked in NZ) came over and delivered their (his) collective verdict. Bags 1 and 2 clearly were high in Robusta and could not possibly be used at a high class establishment such as theirs. Bag three was excellent but could do with roasting a few degrees lower to make the most of it!

    Deciding that I would use my age and experience to the full, I asked them to describe what exactly it was about 1 and 2 that made them think it had robusta in it. I was treated to a long lecture about robusta and they identified a number of factors they thought were attributable to this evil bean! So I explored the the need to roast it a little lighter. Non of them had ever roasted coffee, nor could they describe the impact that reducing the final temperature would have on the bean. They were blissfully unaware of the impact of the speed of roasting although one did have a pretty convincing go at bullshitting what it might do, unsuccessfully!

    So I let them show off their ignorance for a while; it was rather like listening to teenagers trying to outdo each other! “Why don’t you all come and sit down and lets look at the beans?” I suggested… they were all too willing to, because clearly I had no idea what I was talking about and I might benefit from their many days of knowledge! We poured out a little from each bag. “What differences can you notice?” I asked. There was a moment of quiet before someone pointed to a broken bean in one of the piles! I let them study it for a little time, no differences were noted. “OK so you are sure that the first two are robusta based still?”, yes came the reply. “But there are no robusta beans present in the coffee?” I said. “Well there might be – we don’t know what they look like” they eventually conceded. OK, It was now time for my coup de grace! I invited them to look a little more closely at the three bags I had given them, did they notice anything in common? “Shit” uber-Hyper said. All three bags had the same label on; they had the same batch code on; they had the same roast date on; they had the same name on. Why? Because they were the same coffee!

    • drcoffee

      February 26, 2013 at 8:31 am

      That is utterly, completely brilliant. Thank you for sharing! I am not so alone….!

  2. Simon Bower

    February 26, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Just seen the typos. did it on my phone! That will teach me!

    • drcoffee

      February 26, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      don’t worry, there’s quite a few in the original post too!

  3. thetreeshaveeyes2

    February 26, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Reblogged this on TreeNTheForest.


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