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Local Rochester Baristas Tell All

William Forsman
William Forsman/Cafe Steam

Our local Rochester baristas not only serve up our favorite hot or cold concoctions but they hear our joys and woes, too. I asked a few baristas from a couple of coffee shops in the area what the most complicated drinks requested they have to make and if they had any good stories to share. Here’s what they said:

William Forsman/Cafe Steam

Odd drink request: “By far the oddest drink request I’ve ever seen is a combination of Espresso, Matcha powder, Milk, Cayenne Pepper, and Chocolate. Much to my apprehension, I finally gave one a try recently. I would describe myself as an adventurous coffee / tea lover but even that pushed the limits of my tastes. Otherwise, the “Iced Cappuccino” is a nice curve ball every once in a while, being that in a barista’s eyes it’s a physical impossibility.”

Interesting story: “Word on the street is that in a former life our building was home to some type of morgue or mortuary. There’s a strange and ominous structure in the basement that we affectionately refer to as the “Body Ramp.” However, I have yet to see any real proof of it ever existing. One might assume that in combination with being one of the older buildings in town, we’d be haunted. But, aside from the occasional report of a paranormal encounter, I think any remnant of past lives or ‘spirits’ are there on good terms.”

Hannah/local coffee shop

Complicated drink request: “Whenever a customer whips out their own measuring equipment (collapsible measuring cups, protractors, thermometers) or their own ingredients you know you are in for trouble. The most complicated drinks though are usually something that they found on Pintrest or Instagram. Half the time we don’t carry the ingredients for it, the other half of the time it’s layered crazy or contains every ingredient we do have so it takes a solid 10 minutes to figure out and make.”

Interesting story: “We are a more socially acceptable daytime bartender with lots of regulars, so we tend to provide more services than just coffee. We’ve been asked to help with everything from homework to being a surrogate. The amount of personal information some of our regulars share is a lot. I think, especially in Rochester, we have some regulars who we only see when they are in town for Mayo. So, we are a place for them to escape a little and find support. We get to see people have their first dates, graduate college, get proposed to, finish treatment, and other life milestones. The other stories from the coffee shop are more about the negative side where customers throw food or beverages at us because they didn’t like it or where someone’s having a bad day and decides the baristas aren’t human beings that deserve respect. We’ve also had a couple cases of stalking and a man expose himself. There is always something happening.”

Zachariah/Local coffee shop

Complicated drink request: “An upside down, stirred, then blended/hot caramel macchiato, whip on the bottom and top.”

Cool story: “Not really. Just funny ones about awkward couples trying to be sneaky with each other, or about how I’ve gotten to know some customers based on random stuff. There’s one customer I talk to every day about the political climate of the world, another I talk to about their classes, and personal lives. I know more about a lot of customers than their close friends do.”

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