A letter to all Starbucks customers from your very favorite barista

Our resident barista has a secret about Pink Drinks. Photo courtesy of Hungry Girl. 

STEFANEE MONTESANTOS | OPINION COLUMNIST | smontesa@butler.edu 

I know we have all been there — waiting in the lengthy Starbucks line to get our favorite drink to pregame homework time. You want something sweet and cold, regardless of the weather outside, and the idea of your favorite Strawberry Acai Refresher makes your mouth water. As you inch through the line and watch the others leave with their Venti refreshers, your thirst only gets stronger. 

Even though you are most definitely about to use your Flex dollars, the idea of spending them on a Trenta size just seems excessive. A Venti is just a size down, but you really don’t want the entire drink to be ice with a splash of the refresher. As the seasoned Starbuck customer that you are, you know exactly how to quench this thirst. 

It is finally your turn at the register. You take three confident strides to the counter, your Butler ID in hand. The cashier has a thin layer of sweat on their forehead that hides underneath their stained Starbucks hat. You see the other two employees moving in a blur as they power through drinks like machines. 

“Hello, what can I get started for you tonight?” says the cashier in a strained customer service voice. Here is your moment, your time to wield your power as the customer and select what every Starbucks Refresher stan has ordered since the drinks were released.

“Can I have a Venti Strawberry Acai with  — ahem— light ice?” 

Now, I have been a barista here at the Starbucks on campus since late September, and I am sure the amount of light iced refreshers I have made is some obnoxious number. I am here to let you, our oh-so very valued customer, in on a little secret — light ice is relative. 

Light ice is relative because light ice is whatever I say it is going to be while I make your precious Pink Drink. As barista, I will read your pointless request written in sharpie on the side of the cup, and graciously over pour you some of the contents, but whatever scoop of ice I put into the shaker is your new understanding of light ice. It is this fact, that I hold the all mighty knowledge of light ice in my syrup-covered hands, that demonstrates the true power dynamic between customers and baristas. 

Starbucks does a wonderful job at making sure that every employee ensures the satisfaction of the customer — service with a smile. Our job is to make sure you feel in control. You order the drink, we make it and you leave with exactly what you came for, but would that be possible if the barista was not present? 

I am going to let that question steep in your head like the teas we brew multiple times a day, and let you realize where the true power lies in this relationship. We may be covered in chai syrup and smell like burnt espresso by the end of our shift, but I promise you, your campus baristas hold more power than you think. 

Knowledge is power, and not only do we hold the definition of light ice, but we also know exactly what is happening on this campus at all times. We know when the Butler plague is making its rounds through the students — the amount of venti sick teas sold skyrockets. We know when the homework and project season is well underway — people start to get real creative with what drinks to put extra shots in. We know when sorority chapter ends — every single Starbucks refresher is made, even the Very Berry Hibiscus, which is an underrated refresher for sure. And, I know when any sort of late night practice ends — making hot chocolates 10 minutes before closing on a weekday only adds more to our closing duties. Please just buy yourself some Nesquik packets.

Now, power always comes at a cost. We may be the holders of all this obscure information, but we still have to go through some sticky situations. And, I don’t just mean the daily task of scraping dried vanilla syrup. We are still employees of the service industry, meaning that the customer is always right. Even if the customer comes in 10 minutes before closing, walks all over our freshly mopped floors and orders a drink with several different modifications. Yes, every barista employed by Starbucks will always make that drink for you, but at 11:52 p.m. on a Thursday? That definitely hurts.

This is a relationship, remember — barista to customer. We have the power of knowing how to make your drinks, but you have the power of ordering them. When and how you order those drinks means a lot to us. We will never deny your requests, but “please” and “thank you” go a long way. You never know. Maybe we will actually listen to the futile request of light ice in that Pink Drink you absolutely needed 45 minutes before you go to bed. 

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