Manhattan College Baristas Put the Star in Starbucks

By, Angelica Joy Niedermeyer & Niamh Delargy, Contributors

The first floor of Kelly Commons is a popular dining and lounge area for students at Manhattan College. It is home to one coffee shop in particular which brings a large amount of joy to students: Starbucks. The barista-selected music and friendly staff contribute to a relaxed and open atmosphere. This offers a space for studying with a drink and good conversation with your favorite baristas.

Starbucks brightens the day of its customers in different ways throughout the year. It provides fun, caffeinated drinks to help students and professors conquer their busy schedules. In addition, its seasonal menu invites people to share in campus-wide holiday cheer.

Starbucks would not be the same without its dedicated baristas. To explore how they bring joy to the Manhattan community, The Quadrangle spoke with some employees and customers to gauge their opinions.

According to employee Louis “LJ” Baggett-Williams, who has worked at Starbucks for seven years, each day is unique. There is always something new going on, which makes the job enjoyable. Baggett-Williams also emphasizes the importance of enjoying your job instead of focusing on repetitive work for economic gain, which makes coming to work each day worth it.

“It’s different, not everyday people around my age.”

is the same [which] makes this type of job easy [and] it helps me a lot,” Baggett-Williams said. “I enjoy my job…the money’s good but you also want to enjoy your job. That’s people’s problem, they follow the money, then they’re miserable.”

He particularly enjoys working in the mornings because he sees how much a cup of coffee can impact a person’s day and he’s happy to play a role in that.

“I enjoy the mornings,” Baggett-Williams said. “A person will come in, they seem tired and low down. Give them a coffee and it changes their whole mood.”

Another employee, Stephan Baggett, who began working at the college 10 months ago, finds joy in working at Starbucks because it allows him to brighten others’ days. As he describes, a simple cup of coffee can help someone get through their day, and Baggett is happy to contribute to that.

“Sometimes you make people’s days better,” Baggett said. “To random people it might not seem like a lot, but to us it is a lot. Some people might be going through something, they might need that coffee so I really enjoy it.”

Pictured are the Kelly Commons Starbucks baristas (from left to right: Stephan Baggett, Mike Rodriguez and Louis “LJ” Baggett-Williams) ANGELICA NIEDERMEYER/QUADRANGLE

Mike Rodriguez is an employee originally from corporate who shares his opinion on the benefits of working in Manhattan College in comparison to working for Starbucks on Wall Street.

“It’s all about the people around you,” Rodriguez said. “The coworkers around me make the job easier which makes my day easier. The customers are different, I’ve got people around my age.”

There is a general consensus among the baristas that music is very important to their work. It gives them power to control the atmosphere and puts a personal twist on a chain coffee shop for all to enjoy.

“I come in, I play my music, I’ve got to get my game-plan. I’m dancing, I’m rocking, I’m going to spread my joy,” Baggett said.

Each individual barista has the opportunity to select songs for the day which boosts their own mood and that of their customers. This is especially relevant throughout the holiday season.

“Me, I bring the music. So, I’m a person that listens to music 80% of the day. I like to hear music. Music makes me happy,” said Baggett-Williams who shared with The Quadrangle that his favorite Christmas song is “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by the Jackson 5.

The happy and positive attitude of the workers also helps cheer the body up. According to sophomore Melody Santos, the Starbucks workers make her day.

“Sometimes, I come here to study and then the conversations are a little pick me up. They make my day. They really do. I come here in the morning and I am here all day long,” Santo said. “Some of them are close to our age so they understand what we are going through. They give me some advice. I like talking to them.”

Junior Roberto Liz also feels the same way as Santos and finds that the Starbucks workers bring an extra sense of Joy to the Manhattan Community.

“It definitely makes my day a whole lot better. Gets me going for afternoon classes. I come here and I know it’s going to brighten my day.”

During this joyous holiday season, the Starbucks in Kelly Commons is even more surrounded with community hangouts especially after not being on campus last year. The baristas are now bringing this turbulent year to a close with their iconic seasonal red aprons and cups, their festive drinks and their bright conversation.