Ever wonder what it would be like to work at an independently-owned coffee shop? From the chemistry-level techniques, to the hipster-esque wardrobe that everyone behind the counter seems to be sporting, being a barista has a special glamour to it.
That is until you spill a whole vat of hot coffee on yourself. Trust me, it happens.
I, my friends, am one of those baristas, and I am here to tell you a little bit about the newest and greatest coffee shop to hit Figueroa: Cups Coffee. After taking over Seattle’s Best this past August, Cups Coffee has opened its doors and hired a whole slew of USC students. More importantly, the shop has started pumping us all full of caffeine to get us through those midterms and finals.
As a barista over at this fine establishment since this past September, I have a different perspective than the average customer. Sure, I could tell you that the product is great; that the crema atop the espresso is luscious. But anyone who walks in and tries Cups out could tell you that.
As a barista, I can tell you that you never remember customer names, but you always connect a face with a drink. The blonde girl wearing track shorts and a neon workout tank… she gets an iced earl grey every time, without fail. I can also tell you that over at Cups Coffee we will make anything – and I mean anything – you crave.
As a barista, I also get a lot of strange questions and orders… word to the wise: if you aren’t sitting in a Starbucks, there is no such thing as a Frappuccino. We also don’t have talls, grandes or ventis (which all mean large, by the way). Another tip… large cappuccinos really aren’t a thing, and will make your barista a little bit angry inside (you try steaming 24 ounces of milk without scalding yourself).
Lastly, as a barista at Cups, I can tell you that I have the best bosses in the world. Flexible with hours, generous with the employee free food and always ready to help you improve your barista skills, I couldn’t ask for better. More importantly, great bosses make for great customer service.
But onto the product. Don’t love coffee? Well, first, you should give Cups’ Coffee a try. We brew Groundwork, a local and organically produced coffee bean that may just make you consider converting. If you’re still not convinced, my fellow Cups baristas and I have concocted some very special non-coffee drinks. Our chai latte, arguably the most popular item on the menu, gets an Ashley-twist when you combine a heaping scoop of the Tiger Chai mix and just a dash of the Green Tea version. Combine with almond milk (yes, we have almond milk, soy-haters and lactose free rejoice) and, wallah… pretty magical.
On the subject of milk. Steaming milk is hard. You don’t realize how delicate a process it is until you stick that steam wand into your cup of milk for the first time and all you end up with is flat, thin disappointment. I myself spent my first few weeks at Cups learning how to properly steam milk and make sure it had that velvet soft quality that any coffee connoisseur would appreciate – because if that drink isn’t perfect, it isn’t served. The secret is in the sound: a soft hiss guarantees the perfect foam.
Ultimately, that is what Cups Coffee is all about: quality. Who can argue with that?