What’s It Like Working At Starbucks? (Life Behind The Counter)

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Have you ever felt the thrill of stepping into a whirlwind, a dynamic dance of scents, sounds, and human connections? That’s what it’s like working at Starbucks, a universe where coffee is king and camaraderie reigns.

Here, every shift is a rollercoaster ride, filled with the exhilaration of mastering coffee recipes, the anticipation of meeting diverse customers, and the challenges that stir your resilience. Embrace the journey of discovering what it truly feels like to navigate this realm of ceaseless hustle, relentless learning, and the potent aroma of freshly ground coffee beans.

Let’s embark on this adventure together – ready to dive into the magic and mayhem of working at Starbucks?

What Is It Like To Work At Starbucks?

Man holding Starbucks cup

Working at Starbucks can feel like embarking on a fascinating journey into a world rich with the smell of coffee, warm smiles, and diverse interactions. It’s a unique workplace that offers a myriad of experiences – an invigorating mix of high-paced intensity, customer engagement, and the art of creating enticing beverages.

As a Starbucks barista, you find yourself in an environment where learning and adaptation are a constant; from mastering the extensive menu to dealing with the daily ebbs and flows of customer traffic, each day holds a new challenge.

However, like any job, working at Starbucks comes with its own set of pros and cons. On one hand, there’s the joy of building strong connections with regular customers, the satisfaction of nailing complex coffee orders, and the privilege of working in a supportive, team-oriented atmosphere.

On the other, it can be physically demanding, with long hours spent on your feet and mentally taxing as you juggle multiple responsibilities at once – from order taking, and coffee brewing, to cleaning. Not to forget, there’s the ever-present need to maintain a positive demeanor even in the face of challenging customer interactions.

So, for those who thrive in an engaging, social, and lively atmosphere, Starbucks can indeed be a world worth diving into.

Is Working At Starbucks Hard?

Working at Starbucks can be like learning a new game at first. There are many rules to remember and lots of different drinks to make. It can feel like trying to do homework, play a sport, and talk to your friends all at the same time, especially when the store is very busy.

But don’t worry, after some time, you’ll get the hang of it, and it will feel as natural as riding a bike.

Working at Starbucks, like any job, has its challenges. But ‘hard’ might be too subjective a term. Instead, let’s say it’s multifaceted. Many employees agree that there is a steep learning curve, especially for those who don’t already have coffee knowledge.

One Redditor, bwaydood7827, mentioned how they knew a lot about coffee and Starbucks before they started working there, and it was still difficult, let alone for someone with zero coffee knowledge.

Grandecupofwater, a new Starbucks partner, agreed, stating that being thrown into the deep end was how they learned best. They found that once they understood the drinks, the rest – like operating the register, drive-thru, and chatting with customers – came naturally.

Of course, for others, the experience can be more challenging. Another Starbucks partner, 251xxxx, bluntly stated, “Quite simply, I hate it lol. I’m glad it’s only temporary.”

So, yes, it can be tough, especially in the beginning. But it can also be rewarding, and the learning curve does seem to level out with time.

Is It Hard To Be A Barista At Starbucks?

Starbucks barista holding a cup

Being a barista at Starbucks is similar to being a general employee, with an added layer of complexity due to the intricate coffee recipes and demanding pace of the job. Again, the difficulty level varies depending on the individual.

Some find it easy to pick up the recipes and techniques, while others might struggle more.

But, once you’ve got the hang of things, being a barista can be a rich and rewarding experience. As lascorpion, another Redditor, put it, there’s a big learning curve, but “when things are executed as they should be, it’s the best.”

Is Starbucks a Good Job to Work?

Several Starbucks employees have praised the benefits and opportunities the company provides. As Rebecca Espinal, a Starbucks supervisor, detailed on Reddit, the perks of being a Starbucks partner are numerous.

They range from tangible benefits like 401k, sick pay, free coffee or tea every week, and discounts on various services, to intangible ones like the positive work environment and the chance to meet inspiring leaders and wonderful customers.

The company also offers an online education program through Arizona State University (ASU), paying 100% of their partner’s tuition and supporting them through their academic journey. As alyssakemi, a five-year partner, attests, this allowed her to work while gaining an education for free.

On the flip side, the pay is not the best, the hours are unpredictable, and there can be difficulty moving up in the company. As Espinal puts it, “Our pay really isn’t great…and there’s really no room to move up.” The relatively low pay is one of the reasons why you might decide that you should tip at Starbucks. Of course, you might also want to reward excellent customer service if your barista goes above and beyond what is expected or normal.

Why Are Starbucks Employees So Nice?

The kindness of Starbucks employees can largely be attributed to the company’s emphasis on creating a welcoming, “third place” atmosphere between home and work. Employees are trained to “Make every moment right,” even in difficult situations.

This mindset, coupled with the connections baristas make with regular customers, can lead to a genuinely warm and friendly service environment.

One Starbucks partner, caramel_macchiatos, attributes the friendly demeanor to the Starbucks culture of fostering connections. “It’s encouraged to make conversation and build relationships with customers,” they explain. “For many of us, that aspect of the job is what makes it enjoyable.”

The selection process also plays a significant role. Starbucks often hires individuals with strong interpersonal skills and a genuine interest in customer service. Once onboard, employees undergo extensive training on customer interaction and conflict resolution.

This training helps them handle a variety of scenarios and maintain a calm, pleasant demeanor even during high-stress situations.

Furthermore, Starbucks employees can also have the benefit of camaraderie among their co-workers. This camaraderie is fostered by the shared experiences and challenges of the job, contributing to a positive work environment and potentially enhancing the experience for customers.

Pros and Cons of Working at Starbucks


  • Culture of Connection: Starbucks encourages employees to foster relationships with customers, providing a more human and gratifying aspect to the job.
  • Training and Skill Development: Starbucks offers comprehensive training programs, enabling employees to learn valuable skills including customer service, conflict resolution, and the art and science of coffee making.
  • Employee Benefits: Starbucks offers various benefits to its employees, such as health coverage, tuition assistance, stock options, 401(k) & financial well-being, paid time off, parental leave, and much more.
  • Free Coffee and Tea: Partners are eligible to receive a free pound of coffee or box of tea every week.
  • Supportive Work Environment: The camaraderie among Starbucks employees can contribute to a positive work environment and team collaboration.
  • Opportunities for Growth: Starbucks has a reputation for promoting from within, offering employees the potential to advance in their careers.


  • Fast-paced Work Environment: The pace at Starbucks can be very high, especially during peak hours, which can lead to stress.
  • Difficult Customers: As with any customer service role, employees have to deal with their share of difficult or demanding customers.
  • Shift Hours: Depending on the location, employees might have to work early mornings, late nights, or weekends.
  • Physical Demands: The job can be physically demanding, involving standing for long periods, heavy lifting, and repetitive tasks.
  • Performance Pressure: There can be a high level of pressure to meet performance and customer service standards.

What Are The Benefits Of Working At Starbucks?

Despite the challenges, Starbucks employees frequently mention the rewarding aspects of their job. From learning new skills and gaining a deep appreciation for coffee to forming connections with co-workers and customers alike, the Starbucks experience has a lot to offer.

Many baristas take pride in perfecting their craft, particularly when it comes to the art and science of brewing coffee and creating beautiful latte art. Others enjoy the fast-paced environment and the satisfaction of successfully navigating a busy rush hour.

And, of course, there’s the perk of free coffee and tea. According to frappucinno-king, “It’s a great way to start your day!”

Dealing with Difficult Customers

Every service job has its share of difficult customers, and Starbucks is no exception. Partners share stories about demanding, rude, or just plain strange requests from customers.

However, Starbucks’ policy of “making every moment right” often means going above and beyond to satisfy a customer’s request, even if it seems unreasonable.

For example, doublechocolatemocha shared an amusing story of a customer who requested “a Grande in a Venti cup filled to the top with whipped cream,” effectively asking for a cup of whipped cream. Though unusual, Starbucks policy meant fulfilling the order.

In more difficult situations, baristas are trained to maintain their professionalism and diffuse any tension. This might mean remaking a drink, offering a refund, or calmly explaining a policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What benefits do Starbucks employees receive?

Starbucks provides a variety of benefits including health insurance, tuition assistance, stock options, and free coffee or tea during shifts.

Does Starbucks offer flexible hours?

Yes, Starbucks generally offers flexible hours, but this can depend on the specific store and its needs.

Do you need to have coffee knowledge prior to working at Starbucks?

No, Starbucks provides extensive training on everything you need to know about coffee, from brewing to latte art.

What is the pay like at Starbucks?

Pay at Starbucks varies depending on location, position, and tenure. Starbucks is known for paying above the federal minimum wage.

Is there opportunity for career growth at Starbucks?

Yes, Starbucks is known for promoting from within and offers various training and development programs to support career advancement.

Bottom Line: What’s It Like Working At Starbucks?

Working at Starbucks, like any job, is not without its challenges. The pace can be fast, the demands high, and the customers occasionally difficult. But the opportunity to learn new skills, serve and connect with people, and be part of a supportive team can make it a rewarding experience.

Of course, individual experiences can vary widely. Depending on factors such as location, management, and individual personality, one person’s Starbucks journey could be very different from another’s. As with any job, it’s about finding a balance that works for you – whether you’re brewing a piping hot espresso or serving up a delicious Frappuccino.


  1. https://www.starbucks.com/careers/working-at-starbucks/benefits-and-perks/
  2. https://www.starbucks.com/careers/working-at-starbucks/education/
  3. https://www.reddit.com/r/starbucks/comments/4zrovs/whats_it_like_working_at_starbucks/
  4. https://www.reddit.com/r/starbucks/comments/8x6i6m/is_working_at_starbucks_difficult_how_do_you/
  5. https://www.quora.com/How-difficult-is-it-to-work-at-Starbucks
  6. https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-positives-and-negatives-of-working-for-Starbucks

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