Extreme cold blasts coffee baristas


by Katie Utehs, KREM.com


Posted on February 24, 2011 at 11:17 PM

SPOKANE -- Most people are staying inside to avoid this extreme cold snap. However, a few people, like TV reporters and drive-through coffee baristas, still have to work in painfully cold weather.

When they open that drive-through window to deliver coffee, steamed milk, tea or hot cocoa, it can be a real shock to the system.

There's nothing like a warm cup of coffee to warm you up, but every time that barista opens the window, well it's a shot of cold air.

"Especially with the wind chills tonight, the wind is blowing through here especially on that window back there--it is cold when that window comes open," said Dutch Bros. barista Kaleen Smith.

Air temperatures are in the single digits around the Inland Northwest tonight, and the windchill drops the mercury to almost 20 below.

"It is cold enough where you can't feel your fingers. When both windows are open and the wind gets going, your fingers are numb," Smith said.

Smith says counting back change for customers becomes a challenge. Over exposure is a real concern for people spending time outside in these conditions.

But almost nothing gets between people and their caffiene addictions.

"You know it definitely slows down a little bit, but it's surprising how many people will go out of their way for a good old cup of Joe," said barista Mason Sutter.

The baristas have space heaters and warm clothes to keep warm, yet the heat is gone the instant a customer pulls up.

"I definitely feel for my boss in the morning, because she's got these things open like the entire shift, which doesn't make for much warmth in here at all, to be honest," Sutter said.

So instead of that iced latte, do your barista a favor and order a hot drink.

"We'll switch back and forth from, like, steaming milk to warm up your hands a little bit, whatever we can do to stay warm a little bit," Mason said.

The Local Dutch Bros. coffee stands stay open until 10 on weeknights and 11 on the weekend, but they say the worst shift is actually in the morning. That's when it's coldest and the busiest.