Student barista learns the fine art of all things caffeinated

by Rebecca Szkutak / Beacon Staff • September 18, 2014

Junior Henry Krause is a barista at The Thinking Cup on Newbury Street.
Junior Henry Krause is a barista at The Thinking Cup on Newbury Street.

After a long shift at The Thinking Cup cafe, junior Henry Krause said he often feels like he is coated in coffee.

“You blow your nose, and espresso beans come out,” he said.

Krause, a political communication major, was hired as a barista at The Thinking Cup in July, after four months of working at the South End Buttery. Krause said he initially wanted a barista job due to his interest in coffee—though he had little experience when it came to brewing it.

“Skill-wise, I was not ready for what they needed,” Krause said of The Thinking Cup. “But [the South End Buttery] spent a lot of time training me.”

He said the Buttery taught him a lot of basic skills necessary to become a barista. The training lasted for two days, he said, and focused on learning how to pull and extract espresso—finding the right way to grind, measure, tamp, and time the shots. He also learned to detect the differences between good and bad espresso shots, like the visible sign of a thin golden crema, or foam, layer.

After his training Krause said he felt confident enough to apply to The Thinking Cup. 

Today, Krause said he sometimes has as many as 400 or 500 tickets for espresso drinks alone, all while working to keep the station clean and stocked. Krause said there often isn’t any downtime during a shift.

The only way to keep his cool, Krause said, is by finding his flow.

“You get into the zone while making drinks,” Krause said. “When you’re in the zone and tapped into that energy it’s really cool, you feel like you can handle anything. I like it because it’s a go, go, go environment.”

He said a medium latte in a ceramic mug is his favorite drink to make because he likes experimenting with latte art. He said particularly enjoys the intricate process of making rosetta designs in the cream on top of the latte.

According to Krause, his calm mindset has been key in a fast-paced environment where errors are inevitable. He said mistakes range from miscommunications between cashiers and baristas regarding the specifics of drinks, to baristas grabbing the wrong milk or syrup.

One memorable mistake, he said, happened when he was rushing and wasn’t fully paying attention to a customer, who yelled at him about it. Although he was shocked in the moment, Krause said it was a great learning experience for him because it taught him to remember to calm down and check his surroundings, even at busier times.

Krause has had great experiences with customers as well. He said he loves the feeling of when a customer who knows him by name comes in and asks how he is doing.

From customer service to managerial skills, Krause said he has learned a lot while working at The Thinking Cup.

“I just kind of learned how to navigate making mistakes and being wrong, and messing up in a team,” Krause said. “It teaches you how to be creative and juggle things.”