Behind the Counter: Working as an On-Campus Barista

The on-campus Starbucks employees are swamped with over 700 orders each day. Have patience and be kind! Photo courtesy of Morgan Hughes.

If you are on the New Paltz campus, there is an overwhelming chance that you have ordered something from the Parker Theatre Starbucks. 

Furthermore, there is an almost certainty that you have complained about the wait time for this Starbucks.

The wait section on Grubhub often has hour-long waits, and students can’t seem to understand why. What they are not seeing, however, is what it’s like behind the counter.

“It gets so busy that you can’t even stop to drink water,” says a fourth-year barista at Starbucks. 

This barista, who has chosen to remain anonymous, explained what the job is like from their perspective. 

They, like the majority of the Starbucks staff, are a full time student as well as a worker for a severely understaffed restaurant.

The worker shortage in the restaurant industry has been a huge problem since COVID-19, and our campus restaurants are no exception.

The workers are picking up a job on top of studies to pay bills and tuition. They must balance their school load with demanding shifts. The stress of a job like Starbucks on top of classes can wear employees thin.

This barista said that the hardest part is not just the understaffing, but that most of their student workers are also new hires. 

All new jobs require training and a learning curve, but working for a coffee establishment, especially a corporate one like Starbucks, requires special skills.

Employees must learn codes and systems, memorize drink recipes and all this is on top of developing regular customer service skills. 

The restaurant industry isn’t easy to work in, and the full-time student employees are trying their best every day. 

While student workers are the majority of staff, there are also regular workers and supervisors. These employees work full time and even longer shifts than the student workers. 

The supervisors have to train the new hires, manage a business and fulfill their responsibilities as baristas. The supervisors work constantly and put their heart and soul into the job. 

Over 700 drinks are made every weekday. The sheer volume of orders was one of the hardest parts of the job, the barista explained. 

“We don’t want to make you late for class on purpose,” promised the barista. “A lot of us are still learning, so please try and be patient if there’s a mistake.”

While most students have been respectful, there is still a level of disrespect coming towards the workers that is undeniable. 

Constant complaints about time are heard each day. Customers have spoken to baristas rudely or baristas have overheard rude things said. They are simply trying to get through the shift, and we as a student body need to remember that daily. 

The barista shared stories of people staring them down while making drinks and even someone asking for a new drink lid because their hand touched the lid when placing the drink on the shelf. The barista said that they feel bad when people have to wait long, but that they’re doing all that they can.

It is not just the campus Starbucks experiencing this influx of orders. The dining hall, SUB restaurants and other campus restaurants are getting slammed every day. The student body eats at relatively the same times throughout the day, so each restaurant gets swamped like clock work. 

It is not our fault that there is a rush at restaurants, but it is our fault how we choose to treat workers. 

Every single person behind the counter and in the kitchen are individual human beings working long and hard shifts to feed us. They have lives and responsibilities outside of their job. A lot of them are even students like us.

It is understandable getting frustrated over hunger and wait times, but please do not choose to take this frustration out on the workers.

 “Please” and “thank you” go a very long way, and when something does go wrong or takes too long it’s always just a mistake.

Be angry at the shortage of campus dining options. Be angry at your classes for being too close together to get food. Be angry with whatever may go wrong, because getting food as a college student can be incredibly frustrating!

But please, do not be angry with the workers trying their best.

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About Lily Seemann 31 Articles
Lily Seemann is a first year psychology major, with a minor in sociology. She is from Rockland County, NY, but grew up in Georgia! As well as being in the newspaper, she is also a New Paltz cheerleader. You can reach her by emailing