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Meet Your HUB Starbucks Barista

With constant lines that rival any at Penn State, the HUB Starbucks never seems to have down-time. And everyday, Penn State students stand behind the counter with the difficult job of keeping customers satisfied. HUB Starbucks barista Hannah Michael gave me an inside look at the trials, as well as the benefits, that come with being one of our favorite on-campus workers.

Hannah, a sophomore in the college of communications, is studying Public Relations and ultimately aims to land a position in corporate public relations that allows her to travel. For now, she earns her bi-weekly paycheck by serving her fellow peers and professors alike their daily caffeine fix.

“I work three times a week: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. As students, we are only allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours per week, so I work about 15 hours,” Hannah said.

Though she didn’t work at Starbucks before coming to college, Hannah recognized immediately upon her entrance to the company that the HUB Starbucks is different than typical home town coffee shops. “As opposed to big cities, we don’t have Starbucks on every block. Even small town Starbucks never seem to have such a long line. Here, there’s always a constant line and we’re almost always busy,” Hannah said.

The Starbucks line, as many know, can sometimes extend all the way the entry steps of the HUB; however, the long line rarely deters people from waiting.

“It’s frustrating when people stand there and ask where their drink is. We’re working as fast as we can and you always have to keep in mind the line that was in front of you when you first got in line, those people are still waiting for their orders,” Hannah said of those who just can’t wait to quench their thirst. “You just have to keep in mind that a typical order takes less time to place than it does to make.”

Like most full-time students who double as part-time employees, Hannah often finds herself overwhelmed with school work, working at Starbucks, and extracurriculars. “I’m in a sorority, so I do other things. However, I really wish I could be a part of a THON committee but it’s just such a huge commitment. Between school, work, and everything else going on I just don’t think I could make that commitment. There are definitely somethings that I would be more involved in if I didn’t work,” she said.

There are over 80,000 combinations you can use to make the drink you desire at Starbucks, but most people stick to their regular, the seasonal specials, or what’s advertised in front of them. Hannah has her own preferences, both to make and drink. 

“I didn’t actually drink Starbucks that often before I started working there. I was a total rookie and barely knew any of the drinks, but I’ve started relying on [drinking Starbucks] more since I started,” Hannah said. “If I want something refreshing, I get a peach green tea. If I want something hot, my go to is a caramel apple spice. When I want the extra kick and something espresso, I get a white mocha. It ultimately just depends on what I’m in the mood for and if I need a drink for caffeine.”

When it comes to making drinks, Hannah’s preference varies mostly among the hot drink variety. “I honestly like making anything except frappuccinos. I prefer making hot drinks because you can make them super photogenic and they don’t make half as much of a mess as fraps do.”

Working at one of campus’s busiest locations comes with its perks too. “I see a lot of people I know when I’m working, so that’s fun, especially when I get to see my friends. It makes my shift more enjoyable,” said Hannah. “I also see people around campus and ask myself ‘how do I know them?’ and realize it’s because they’re a regular. So not only do I get to see my friends, I guess I get to make them too.”

Beyond serving her friends, Hannah also gets to work with the friends she’s made since starting as Starbucks employee. “I love my co-workers they’re all so cool. We just get each other when it comes to our stress at work, so it’s nice getting to know people who can relate to you.”

As far as insider information, Hannah left me with a tip to make everyone’s life a little better. “If you don’t like your drink, you can get another one for free. It’s Starbucks policy and no one really takes advantage of it.”

So be daring, Penn State, and try something out of your ordinary routine. Worst case scenario, you don’t like it and there will be a better option waiting for you at no extra cost. Then be sure to thank your barista; they work hard to make your days a little easier so do the same for them as you enjoy your coffee.

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About the Author

Emma Curtis

Emma is a staff writer for Onward State. She is a sophomore in the College of Communications and a first generation Penn Stater. Emma comes from a diverse military family and has moved around a lot; however, she has recently found her favorite home in Happy Valley. Contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @cinemmatiic.

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