LC Majors Ranked by Preparedness to Become Barista

A coffee cup with a plea from a barista written on it. Illustration by Maya Winshell.

The Backdoor is a work of fiction and humor.

BRIGHT-EYED AND SMILING but trembling with fear, the class of 2019 is graduating and entering the real world. For those who don’t go to graduate school, some fully-fledged Pioneers will find their way into the barista business as a side-hustle in this uber-ized economy of low wages and no benefits. With their liberal arts education, these seniors are prepared to hit the barista market, despite their varied academic backgrounds. Here is a quick take on how well each major prepares you for serving lattes to soulless corporate managers and anxiety-ridden soccer moms.

1. Bio-Chem Major

The hard sciences prepare you well for the many chemical reactions that occur behind the barista stand. Pipetting chemicals into small flasks is your specialty, after all. Being a barista is really no different from being a bio-chem major. After all getting just the right amount of vanilla in that latte is absolutely crucial to a satisfied customer’s experience; just ask any hipster. Who knows, maybe with the perfect mix of coffee aroma, soymilk and vanilla syrup, you could get that cute person’s number you’ve been thinking about. If you ask me, it sounds like a pretty good deal.

2. ENVS Major

We live in an age where coffee should not only taste good, but be produced from the finest ingredients and the happiest Central American farmers. Combining science with a story is what every environmental studies major is good at. Isn’t that what Festival of Scholars is all about?

As a barista, you can point out which coffee has the lowest net carbon emissions or pressure shoppers into buying reusable mugs. Heck, you could even lecture them about the impacts of almond farming as customers wait for their drinks. You are slowly defeating predatory capitalism, one latte recommendation at a time.

3. Economics Major

Econ majors are taught to be “rational thinkers” and emotionless robots when it comes to basically any interaction – there’s nothing that can’t be reduced to costs and benefits. As a barista, an econ major can formulate the most cost-effective drink to make, market the living hell out of it; and grossly overcharge for its hype, thus driving down production costs of more expensive drinks. With this expertise, they could potentially move you up to a manager. Once there, the sly econ major ropes their boss into a pyramid scheme spelling financial ruin for everyone else. With cutthroat tactics and a willingness to sacrifice your first born for a Blackstone partnership, econ majors can shimmy up the corporate ladder and one day become a spineless shill like Howard Schultz and maybe even run for President.

4. SOAN Major

SOAN is all about human beings and story-telling, or at least that’s what I’ve heard after eavesdropping in the halls of Watzek.

Your ability to understand the many different cultures around the world, serves you well in the global coffee industry. Like ENVS majors, you can convince others of the power of certain coffees, by investigating the cultures from which they originate. This ethnography of coffee culture can stir a new passion inside you, cause after all everything has a story to tell including coffee beans. Who knows, you might even meet that special someone … if they can tolerate your innate need to point out what is “problematic” in our caffeinated culture.

5. Fine Arts Major

Everything can be critiqued, everything has beauty and everything can potentially be art; at least that’s what I gathered from taking one introductory art class at LC. The aesthetic always tells a story, and coffee is no different. As a barista, you can use latte art as your new medium of choice. From bunnies and airplanes to Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Edvard Munch’s The Scream, you could be like the crazy clown who makes balloon animals at children’s parties, just with cappuccinos. For once, people will both be looking at your art AND paying for it! Enjoy the feeling, because it doesn’t last long. At least your art is being valued by the caffeine-addicted soccer mom who throws a fit over the milk fat percentage in her soy latte. Your work may even make it onto her scathing Yelp review.

I guess you could say a liberal arts education truly prepares us for the real world. Just ask any LC alum who is working at a café near you.

Written by Zachary Lerman.

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