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A brief history of my coffee experience and why I quit.

Started from the Register, Now I’m Behind Bar

Before working in coffee, I worked as a cashier for four years primarily at grocery stores. At one point in my life, I wanted to open my own convenience store. I even wrote a script about it. I was working at Di Bruno Bros for 1.5 years before I worked in the coffee bar.

I started my bar life because I wanted to get off the register because it was boring. Plus, someone did a no call/no show and never came back. Di Brunos wasn’t a big store, maybe the second smallest out of the five, but it wasn’t busy enough to be always preoccupied like prior jobs. My first coffee shift was in March 2015.  

First Time at Latte Art

DBB to PC to ACR

At DBB, I worked a few shifts per week in coffee bar while working other departments, going to school full time, and picked up an internship by the time the semester ended in May. The internship lasted until school started in September. I liked being busy and still do. I had 2 classes left to graduate and figured I could take on another job. 

I was randomly walking down Walnut Street and wanted to get the benefit of half-off drinks at the Capital One Cafe. While the barista was making my 3$ Matcha, I asked for an application. The next day I got a call to come in and meet with AM, one of my favorite managers. It made sense to get another job. I needed to save, I wanted to move to Los Angeles and have extra spending money.

During the September of ‘15 to May of ‘16, I was going through a very hard time in my life. Di Bruno Bros was a great cause of my depression that winter/spring. Nothing makes you feel more helpless and miserable when you feel like everything is your fault. You think your decisions are right but see how they were the wrong choices later. 

Being harassed by a coworker for on and off for months. How everyone didn’t believe me and thought it was a joke but being seen as the Angry Black Girl because that’s what it was. My sarcastic, dry humor was seen purely as attitude. I quit because the first time, I was done being strong. I needed to be better mentally.

I worked Peet’s the rest of the summer. I looked for other jobs and picked up extra hours when I could. Since I had extra time on my hands, I started my instagram for ice cream. and I planned my first trip to Los Angeles for October. 

Peet’s – March 2016

By the end of August, I was at Allegro Coffee Roasters as their Coffee Buyer. I love doing invoices, ordering, and being on the bar. I met some great people. I’ve loved seeing them when they visit. I learned even more about coffee than before. I started walking to work since I moved closer to downtown. I had a nice little life before I left Philly. If I didn’t want to move to Los Angeles, I would have stayed there. That was probably the second job that I genuinely felt was right for me. But no, I just had to take my ass to Los Angeles. Without Allegro, there would be no Verve. Thanks to a coffee lover, JD, who insisted I work for them. Let’s just say it worked out, kind of.

Me at Madison and Park, the other coffee shop, I wasn’t supposed to work at.

Quitting Coffee

When I moved to Los Angeles, I applied for a few barista jobs but I landed on Verve. I wanted a new experience and I got it. My time spent at Verve was very stressful, fun, and enlightened more than anything else before. I had a rough time most of the summer. I haven’t been that broke in a long time. Previous jobs never gave me less than 35 hours as a full time employee but Verve’s standard was 30. That wasn’t enough for me.

One time I took off the weekend was given on TWO days to work because it messes up their schedule instead of letting me work the days I normally had off. There was a need to have baristas not work at other coffee shops, no matter how small, and they would tell you to quit or you would have to leave the store. No one cared. We still worked at other shops. 

There was always a constant discrepancy between headquarters and the stores. I didn’t get sick time on a check because of an app and the manager, I use that title loosely, didn’t realize I wanted to take a sick day even when I put the hours in and stated that it was for sick time for dental work.

PTO was taken away from me because I was working full time at another coffee shop. I was full time at both jobs but they deducted my hours accrued from March to May because I said I was FT in March at the other job. I am still at FT but am not receiving their full time hours.

Toward the of my tenure with Verve, the reason why I quit is the fact that I wasn’t being heard. I would send emails about issues within the store, my manager, and lack of hours. 

“I’m saying that Legion isn’t scheduling the times I can work. Until the change to Legion. ES has been scheduling me Tuesday through Friday. With an automatic scheduling system, Legion is not scheduling me and I am receiving one day. I am still working part time. The issue is I CANNOT live off of one day. My other covers my rent and that is it. I have been saying this since 2017 before I took on other jobs. I need to have a 40 hour work week. I told ES, I told SL, and I tell RB. I was FT at Madison. I left due to issues that I am having here, no one is listening to me about my needs as an employee.”

Last Email to HR 

I never got a response from my last email. No one ever reached out to me. It’s okay. I stood my ground. After not standing up for myself with at DBB, this felt like redemption in a way. I didn’t feel like I failed myself. They can figure out why everyone I started with quit within 1-2 years. I am happy for my time at Verve because I met a lot of great people. This is one of the rare moments in my life where I feel a sense of belonging. I have no regrets about what happened at Verve but leaving coffee has been good for my mental health. I am not as stressed as I used to be. I hope they learn their lesson but I doubt it. 

There are a lot of people speaking out about the issues within the coffee community. If you are interested in any of them, the links are below.

Thank you for reading this! It means so much! Keep a lookout for coffee favorites tomorrow!

XOXO SEQ

Barista Behind the Bar

Coffee At Large

Boss Barista

Baristas Sharing Wages

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