What It's REALLY Like To Be A San Francisco Barista

San Francisco: It’s a city as much defined by its coffee culture as it is by its tech scene. Around here, if you’re going out to get coffee, you’re likely hitting up one of a number of local roasters with menus that feature increasingly specific flavor profiles and bean origins. And the experience of walking into one of these places is not complete without the knowledgeable baristas preparing the drinks — who, if asked, will tell you everything you need to know about what you’re ordering (and we mean everything).

We have a unique relationship with specialty coffee. It’s no secret, then, that we have a unique relationship with those who make it as well. Baristas at beloved, well-trafficked cafés not only get to know their clientele intimately, but also have a distinct lens on the city. They all come with their own stories, just as working in coffee has, amid serving hundreds of people a day detailed, made-to-order drinks, had them bear witness to plenty of stories worth hearing. Ahead, professional baristas share their experiences in the coffee world, from the strange, to the funny, to the remarkably profound.