Early rising, long hours, loud and cramped workspaces, stressful time constraints, and prolonged exposure to a pre-caffeinated public.
Challenging conditions for a workplace, yet baristas keep stepping out in the dark mornings to prepare amazing coffee for their peeps.
Why? Because it can be one of the most rewarding jobs around.
You get to work with a remarkable, progressive product that makes people happy. You spend most of your day in a very social environment, usually with great, fun people, and an endless coffee supply. Is there more to life?
But still, it’s a tough gig.
We often discuss the sustainability of the industry, or coffee in general, but what about focusing on the sustainability of our beloved baristas?!
Whether you’re a barista, you hire a barista or you know a barista – and we ALL do – here are
5 essential tips that will help sustain a barista’s career.
RSI, Carpal tunnel, back and neck strains are just a few of the injuries we hear baristas complaining of, repeatedly. The resilient souls they are, this does not stop them from working their beloved machines.
Practicing 20-30 seconds of stretching every couple of hours can protect you from causing serious or job-affecting issues. Whether one or more ailments are showing themselves already, or you just want to assure they don’t show themselves (because they will, if you don’t stretch, it’s a given), stretch them out of your reality.
(i) First thing, first. Just like the machine needs time to warm up before a day, so does your body. Take a few minutes in the morning before you start your shift to give your full body a stretch. Running out of time? Do it while you’re flushing the machine in the morning.
(ii) And then… every couple of hours, even if it’s on your break, stretch your hands, wrists and shoulders. Below are links to some great, quick exercises that can save you big time from a very painful and expensive injury.
2. Check yo’self. Head to toe.
You are on your feet ALL day. And the reality for most baristas is you’re standing in the same spot for most of it. AND, for a good majority of that time, your poor neck is down (not to mention tense during rush hours).
All of these things are terrible for your neck, legs and back.
So, think about combating pain or permanent damage by beginning at the feet and working your way up to your head, and practicing some easy self-care.
(i) Toe – if your workplace doesn’t already have one (and why??) – get a rubber mat to stand on. Wear good shoes. Not good, like your Saturday-best–kicks/cute-flats good. I’m talking good quality, thick, rubber soled, well-fitting shoes that provide appropriate support. This is VITAL.
(ii) Head – We all know baristas are a little bent. Enough.
Time to straighten up! Make sure you lift your head every now and then. Stand up straight. Pull shoulders back when you can. And practice regular neck exercises. A few swings left and right (slowly) up and down (slowly) every hour or so will make the world of difference. I repeat, do these exercises SLOWLY.
3. Bye, Hydration.
It’s super important you stay hydrated when you work. Water is important for all humans, but when you’re working in and around heat it becomes even more essential you maintain your body and brain is stocked up with the good stuff – water, not coffee.
And, because we know you are drinking the coffee…studies show that after 4 cups of coffee, caffeinated drinks become a diuretic causing your body to lose sodium and water. This, my friends, is dehydration. And I promise, you will feel brain fog if you don’t stay hydrated. Nobody wants brain fog during service.
4. Clean it up (before it cleans you up).
Yes, yes, I know all baristas are tidy. But it’s super important that even during a busy period, you keep your station totally free of clutter.
A) It’s good for the soul, and B) You are working around extremely high temperatures and breakables.
A spill, breakage, burn, caused by clutter can lead to a massive problem if not fixed straight away. It probably only takes a few seconds, but can save you a massive pain-in-the-A and a lot more time if an accident happens during a busy service.
Coffee is not a meal. Eat, kids. Excuse the patronising tone, but for many adult baristas, this can be a basic function that goes overlooked.
On the machine all day, slamming down coffees for fuel, one can easily forget to eat. Don’t. You need to sustain yourself.
If you don’t work in a place that offers staff meals, bring something healthy from home. Always have a banana on hand – they are high in potassium, which is great for balancing the acid build up from caffeine. Also, they are organically well-packaged and don’t take much to prepare.
Don’t like bananas, keep nuts around, or a muesli bar. And, if your work does prepare staff meals – EAT IT. Don’t waste your break on your phone, or shopping. Eat, kid. You’ll feel much better for it, and you may even have the energy for after work socialising if you wash it down with a glass of H2o (whaaaaat – baristas can have a social life?)