Tasting the life of a Goodrich barista

I am not a morning person. My earliest class during the week is at 11 a.m., and I often roll out of bed 10 minutes beforehand just in time to throw on some sweatpants and run to class. So even though I live in East, just across the way from Goodrich Hall, and even though my classes are all in the late morning and afternoon, I have never been to Goodrich Coffee Bar.

When I walked into Goodrich, I was met with the hustle and bustle of the Monday morning pre-9 a.m. class coffee rush. A relaxing, jazzy tune played in the background, and the warm coffee-scented air felt nice after the chill of a Williamstown fall morning.

Goodrich Coffee Bar is not managed by Dining Services; it is entirely a student-run operation, one that has been around for about 10 years. “We handle everything – getting the supplies, hiring new baristas, working the coffee bar and managing the shifts, although we do have a good relationship with Dining Services,” Izzy Griffin-Smith ’13, personnel manager of Goodrich coffee, explained to me. “They help us make changes to the computer system on our register by adding or removing buttons, provide our finance manager with weekly revenue reports and offer advice on equipment and food safety issues.”

There are typically three shifts that a Goodrich barista can take: the 7 to 9 a.m. shift, the 8 to 10 a.m. shift or the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift. I spoke to Dilia Ortega ’13, an on-duty barista, about what each shift was like. “When you work the first shift, you walk into Goodrich and it’s dark,” Ortega explained. “It’s early, but sort of peaceful. We bring out all the teas, stock all the fridges and set up for the day. The 8 to 10 [a.m.] shift is a little crazier, since that’s when most people come in. As the day winds down in the later shifts, though, baristas do homework, hang out with each other and serve people as they trickle in.”

Goodrich baristas also have the privilege of choosing music. “It really depends on who gets here in the morning and plugs their iPod in,” Ortega said. “It might be chill barista music, or it might be Beyoncé. You never know.”

Griffin-Smith showed me down to the stockroom: “Our cave of wonders, where all the magic happens!” she laughed. She showed me where they keep the food and the various equipment and supplies. She also showed me the trash room. “It’s kind of silly to show you this, but this is also where we do our recycling,” Griffin-Smith said. “We do our best to recycle as much as we can, even though it is really difficult to do in food service industry. We are coordinating with Dining Services to give them with our used coffee grounds for compost.”

Griffin-Smith then took me behind the counter. Despite my addiction to chai lattes, I actually had no idea how one was made, so Griffin-Smith was kind enough to show me. She poured an organic chai latte mix and skim milk into a metal jug. She then showed me the steam wand: “The steam wand infuses the liquid with very hot steam,” she said. “With a latte, you want the wand lower down in the milk, so it doesn’t make as much foam. With a cappuccino, the wand goes near the surface of the milk so that it makes more foam.” Once the steam wand had worked its magic, she poured the drink into a cup and handed it to me. “On the house!” she smiled.

At Goodrich, there are certain items that are always in demand. Of particular controversy right now is the honey walnut cream cheese. “Our supplier from last year, Berkshire Bagels, closed,” Griffin-Smith said. “We were able to find another supplier for bagels, but unfortunately they don’t have the flavored cream cheeses that everyone loves so much. But we are working on finding a way to get honey walnut [cream cheese] back at Goodrich.”

As I sat in Goodrich, drinking my chai latte and eating my cinnamon raisin bagel, I reflected that Goodrich Coffee Bar seemed like a pretty sweet place to work, not to mention a great morning hangout. That is, whenever I have the energy to wake up early enough.

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