Real Talk: Barista Health In The Workplace – Part ...

Real Talk: Barista Health In The Workplace – Part Two


Our three-part series on barista health continues. In this second installment, Sprudge staff writer Alex Bernson explores the physical and emotional demands placed on coffee professionals. Read part one here.

In part one of our series on the health effects of working in coffee, we established a baseline understanding of the scope of these issues by looking at results from our reader survey. We found that 55% of respondents had experienced upper body repetitive stress injuries, 37% experienced persistent muscle soreness, 29% had experienced anxiety attacks, and 44% reported persistently high stress levels. These are real problems that are affecting people’s quality of life, and it’s the opinion of this writer (and this website) that the specialty coffee industry needs to approach these realities with candor and open dialogue.

To do that, in this second part of our series we dig deeper into what exactly is causing these issues, and what current industry best practices are. Though there are many health concerns involved in being a roaster, such as the noxious fumes from roasting, or doing production, such as extreme repetitive motion and heavy lifting, addressing every possible health issue of working in coffee is unfortunately beyond the scope of this series. I decided to focus this article specifically on the group that made up 3/4th of the respondents on our health survey: working baristas.

There are a lot physical strains involved in being a barista, and I in no way want to posit these articles as standing alone in a field of industry neglect. This is a subject that has actually received a lot of consideration by many upstanding people in the specialty coffee industry, and I was fortunate enough to be able to consult with a few in the course of my research. I’ve talked to Joe Monaghan, President of La Marzocco USA, Jennifer Prince, a longtime trainer at Stumptown Coffee and Liz Clark, a trainer at Gimme! Coffee to learn about the work their companies have done on the subject. The emotional strains of barista work is a much less studied area, but I think that sociological theory on food-service workers coming from my writing on cafe design helps to explain why an awareness of emotional labor is so important for ensuring long-term career viability.

Throughout this piece I attempt to point out potential steps that can be taken to combat these challenges. It is my hope that as an industry we can do a better job of first sharing the knowledge we do have, and then from there do more in-depth research to figure out how we can best ensure that working in coffee is a healthy, rewarding career.


The Physical Work of Making Coffee

In the late 90s, Starbucks approached La Marzocco for a very serious discussion: Starbucks was worried about the physical effects of barista work, and especially the potential for injury and Workers Compensation claims. Starbucks was conducting their own internal studies, but they wanted their equipment manufacturer’s perspective, and so La Marzocco reached out to an osteopath and a physical therapist for their perspective.

La Marzocco found the same things that Stumptown and Gimme! later determined with their own studies: there are many repetitive actions that baristas must engage in to make a cup of coffee, and though individual reactions to these actions vary, over time these motions can lead to injury. Chief among these is the action of tamping, but portafilter insertion and removal, knocking on the knockbox, lifting milk jugs, steaming milk, flapping dosers, and simply standing for long periods can all have negative health effects if done improperly. These actions can have serious effects on staff happiness and effectiveness, and injuries resulting from them qualify for coverage under Worker’s Comp.

Around the same time they were looking at health concerns, Starbucks was also getting interested in more automation of coffee work, and so La Marzocco developed the auto-dosing and tamping Swift grinder for Starbucks. Starbucks eventually decided to go whole-hog into the super-automatic mode of production instead of adopting the Swift, but the program LM developed for them was not a waste, in my opinion. The Swift’s volumetric dosing technology is extremely accurate—most accounts say between 0.2g and 0.5g accuracy, which is much more accurate than timer based solutions. La Marzocco knows the original Swift left some things to be desired in coffee quality, so they’ve partnered with Mazzer to create a new generation Swift grinder that marries the super-accurate dosing and tamping technology to a Mazzer Kony conical burr grinding platform. This new grinder is slated to be released in the first half of 2013 – rest assured you’ll be able to read and learn more about these new grinders right here on Sprudge as more information becomes available.

I am SUPER excited by the prospect of a viable and consistent auto-dosing and tamping grinder. I know that there are many people who will bemoan it as taking away some of the “artistry” of being a barista, but after months of physical therapy for an impinged nerve and strained pectoralis major in my tamping shoulder, I’m left with my mind firmly made up. If the cup quality is sufficient, I think I’ll take less injury (and honestly probably more consistently great coffee) over the perceived machismo and skill of manual tamping.

Despite these exciting developments, manual tamping will still be the default for a long time, and it is important to understand how to do it in a way that minimizes potential strain. Many quality-focused companies have put in time considering this issue, and have integrated their findings into their training programs.

Stumptown and Gimme! coffee have both gone the extra mile, reaching out to a wide-range of professionals, including physical therapists, OSHA consultants, massage therapists, as well as yoga and Tai-Chi instructors to develop in-depth health recommendations.

In general the consensus seems to be that the tamping action should be done using one’s core muscles, directing the force with a relaxed, not hunched shoulder, through an elbow at about 90 degrees with a straight, neutral wrist, into the bed of coffee with a properly sized tamper held between thumb and forefinger on the base of the tamper, with the handle of the tamper wresting against the fatty pad of the palm below the thumb. The exact way to achieve this varies from barista to barista, but setting your hips at an angle between 45 and 90 degrees from a counter that is at about 32inches and then lightly leaning into the tamp seems to be the best approach. Gimme! and Stumptown both point out that the well-known 30lbs of pressure that needs to be applied is much less than people think.

Gimme! and Stumptown’s training materials both go beyond just tamping. Stumptown emphasizes the importance of trying to work in the “area between your chest and hips, between your elbows. The farther you lift or pour something from this area, the greater the strain.” They also stress the importance of trying to relax your muscles and not stand in a stressed position while working, in addition to rotating through the tasks of register, machine, dishes etc. so that one isn’t constantly repeating the same motions. Emphasizing the holistic view, they suggest that you “Be aware of your body and routinely check in to draw your chin back, roll shoulders back and distribute weight evenly between feet and lower back. Avoid keeping your feet and hips planted and twisting from your midsection while moving shots or pitchers, or especially when lifting heavier items”.

Gimme! considered many of the same issues, and their work with a yoga instructor led to a focus on breath-work and “how to stay calm under pressure, whether internal (caffeine) or external (a line out the door). This allows for more self awareness, actual productivity and mental focus. All are the roots of avoiding injury and burn out in all parts of life”. Gimme! trainer Liz Clark told me that beyond taking a moment to just breathe, the most valuable take away from their work was the importance of stretching “often and in the opposite direction of the repetitive movement”.

These bigger-picture recommendations apply to other coffee jobs like roasting that involve physically demanding and repetitive tasks, and it is great to see reputable companies putting serious thought into what they can do to help their staff.

Another area of consideration for avoiding physical strains is the physical design of workspaces. Thick rubber mats are of course crucial in combating the fatigue of standing for many hours, but having well-thought out bar layouts with smooth, easy work flows and everything near at hand can also help reduce the strain of repetitive tasks.

I’ll cite an example from my own personal experience. As a former employee of Joe NYC, I’m impressed by their use of sandwich-prep style refrigerators next to the espresso machines for milk storage. The top openings had hotel pans placed in them, and then the open jugs of milk rested on top of these pans, keeping the cold milk at waist height, which removed the strain of having to constantly bend over and grab jugs of milk when prepping pitchers.

If you have other tricks of physical technique or workspace design that can cut down on repetitive strain, please share them in the comments!


The Emotional Work of Service

A big part of the work, and particularly the stress, of being a barista comes from the intense and constant “emotional labor” required in giving high levels of service in a fast-paced cafe environment.

In The Managed Heart, her seminal feminist work on airline stewardesses, Arlie Russel Hochschild describes emotional labor as “the management of feeling to create a publicly observable facial and bodily display; intended to produce a particular state of mind in others.” Another important sociological work, Erving Goffmann‘s “The Presentation of Self In Everyday Life”, calls this management of outward indicators of feeling “face-work”, explaining how in order to accomplish every-day social interaction we constantly switch in and out of different shallow face-level identity performances — performances that can be markedly different from the deeper emotions we are feeling. In giving “good service”, baristas must constantly engage in face-work to perform a specific identity that caters to the customers’ desires. This is what existentialists like Sartre and de Beauvoir termed “mauvaise foi“, or “bad faith” – as per Wikipedia, it’s “the phenomenon where a human being under pressure from societal forces adopts false values and disowns his/her innate freedom to act authentically.”

The “work” of emotional labor comes from the strain of switching into an identity at face-level that is at odds with one’s deeper feelings. Even if you are having a miserable day, when the next customer comes up to the register, you still need to create an enthusiastic, smiling, welcoming performance for them. And once you’re done serving one customer, no matter how frustrating the interaction may have been, you need to turn around and switch right back into your welcoming performance for the next customer. As a barista, you also need to carefully modulate your performance, reading your customers and knowing when they want a more enthusiastic welcome, when they want to talk about their day, when they want to hear more about the product being served, etc. All of this becomes particularly emotionally demanding because baristas must switch their emotional performance so rapidly and often—sometimes as many as 100 times in an hour.

This need to engage in many emotional performances in rapid succession could be particularly stressful due to the effects caffeine has on our emotional processing. A recent article in Forbes suggests that caffeine’s engagement of our adrenaline system “puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state, [where] your emotions overrun your behavior”, which decreases our emotional intelligence. The article suggests that caffeine’s disruption of our sleep patterns further inhibits smooth, stress-free emotional processing—all of which adds up to your standard highly-caffeinated cafe worker being prone to emotional stress before the first needy customer ever comes along.

In her work on servers in casual dining establishments, Karla Erickson explores how the requirement to perform deference to customers’ desires can be one of the main sources of burnout in service jobs. This is especially true the longer one works in the service industry—over time the stress caused by the difference between the emotions one feels inside and the external emotional performance required can become too much to bear. She found the successful career servers were the ones who were able to engage in what Goffman calls “deep-acting”, where they were able to cultivate genuine internal feelings of caring and compassion that matched their external emotional performance of concern for their customers’ needs.

Creating personable, community-oriented cafes where employees are able to genuinely connect with and care about their customers is one way that we can combat the draining effects of baristas’ emotional labor. Receiving tips is another well known way to deal with emotional labor—a barista’s wage is their compensation for their physical labor, while tips function as a welcome acknowledgment of and compensation for the emotional labor entailed in service.

Beyond encouraging communal good-will (and the tips that result from it), it is important to consider ways in which we can cut down on the actual emotional labor required of baristas. The Espresso Vivace service tip I wrote up is one example—by removing the unnecessary emotional performance of a bright and cheery “how ya doing!?” from every customer interaction, we decrease the emotional labor required of baristas and actually help encourage the genuine inter-personal connections that enable heart-felt, “deep-acting” service.

Another potential for cutting down on emotional labor comes from the increasing focus on a higher end, less “fast-food” service model for coffee. The new models people envision may lead to a lower overall customer volume as each customer receives more attention. This decrease in volume would help minimize the emotional labor of service by cutting down on the number of times that a barista needs to switch in and out of different emotional performances.

As our industry’s level of service evolves, emotional labor and emotional rewards will become an evermore important consideration. An overall stronger focus on the emotional needs of our workers will help us to find other aspects of our current service model that we can streamline to cut down on emotional labor, ways in which management techniques can support workers, and how we can best ensure that our company and industry cultures support deeply felt emotional commitments to low-stress, high quality service.

Join us Friday for the last article in our series. We’ll be looking in more depth at questions of caffeine over-consumption, blind-spots in current medical research on the subject, and will try to answer the question of whether or not a cup of specialty coffee has as much as 2x the caffeine as the average historical cup of coffee. We’ll also be looking at less understood potential health effects of persistently high coffee consumption and examining our survey respondents’ suggestions for how we as an industry can improve.

The comments are open.



  1. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be
    really something which I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang
    of it!

  2. Brendan Mullally

    20 January

    A very well written and thoughtful article. I have personally had a number of health issues in the past, but most of them were self inflicted due to poor a lifestyle–too much drinking, not enough sleep–coupled with long bar shifts.
    For me, martial arts (xing yi) has helped enormously. I now work 10 hour shifts on a lever machine, and the heightened body-awareness, breath-work and overall fitness has been incredibly beneficial.
    As someone has has to taste and dial in multiple manually brewed coffees everyday, including espresso, I must stress–the perhaps obvious–importance of spitting out coffee when tasting. Often during a work day I will not fully drink any coffee at all. Remembering to do this is for whatever reason very difficult for me (it’s so yummy!), but I am always glad I have.
    Drinking TONS of water is also a big help. Tons.

  3. RI Swampyankee

    14 January

    Alex, it is harsh and it is bragging. I’ve worked with scores of guys like you. You are, all of you to a man, a bunch of food and beverage Calvinists. While you might not see yourselves as “superhumans” you do see yourselves as a kind of Elect. In your world, cushioned floors and ergonomically designed bars are for those who won’t take care of themselves. Shorter shifts are for those who lack the mental toughness to work the shifts you work.

    I write this as a person who is deeply committed to fitness. I am in better shape than I was as an undergrad. My usual workout after an 8 hour shift on bar is a 30 mile bike ride. None of that, absolutely none of that, protected my wrist from my job.I’m sitting at home on an unwelcome Worker’s Comp Carpel Tunnel holiday. Cycling didn’t help me and no amount of running will keep your upper body safe from the demands of this profession.

    Your exercise regimen and your work ethic, while admirable, will not protect you. It’s a kind of magical thinking that keeps the reality of our workplace at bay. Your mythos will work until it doesn’t. My only advice is to not ignore the symptoms when they present; the numbness, the pain, the lack of circulation. Those symptoms, untreated, will become permanent and then you won’t be able to work 40 hours without a break . To make matters worse, there will always be some food and beverage Calvinist co-worker suggesting that your physical problems are really a moral failing.

    If it is at all possible, try to see your workplace from a design standpoint. You look at the bar as something to power through. I would suggest that as a full timer you should be looking for ways to minimize the physical stress for yourself and your co-workers.

    You see things in term of a marathon and that’s great but you’re thinking that the marathon is your work week; the real marathon is the sum of your working life. For those of us who love coffee and want to make coffee our life’s work, the discussion has to cover how we work as much as how we work out.

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  5. Tim

    13 January

    First off I want to clarify I work as a Physical Therapist Assistant and my comments are not intended to be “medical” advice. I am specifically observing what I see on a daily basis in response to Alex’s series and give my own opinion.

    Apart from being the other half of Entimos Coffee Roasters I also work as a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant. It’s a profession I love and have the opportunity to educate and help people on a daily basis. When I treat people, it’s a necessity to treat their specific injury but I also feel it’s important to look at their ENTIRE lifestyle, how they move through out the day, what repetitive motions play into their injury and how can they be educated or made aware of how to change these repetitive motions to give their body a rest or break up their movement routine. It might be as simple as a quick stretch to relieve upper shoulder tightness or a simple doorway stretch to give the chest and shoulders relief from looking down at the espresso machine for hours at a time. It might be an easy 5 min. walk during their break. These are simple examples of breaking up a baristas movement routine. The other aspect of education is preventative treatment in which an individual is made aware of potential repetitive injuries based upon workplace requirements, and given exercises or ergonomic aides to assist them during their job duties. I also believe in a component of physical fitness. I can imagine working behind the bar is physically and emotionally draining therefore having the strength and physical endurance to complete an 8-10 hour shift is a necessity. I can’t stress the importance of establishing a cardiovascular fitness routine which might be simply walking for 30 minutes each day and lightly stretching afterward. Begin small and build upon a good cardiovascular base. It is amazing the difference simply walking can have on emotional and physical stress, shoot before you know it you’ll be running marathons!

    To conclude, being aware of how you move throughout the day, breaking up your repetitive movements, establishing a cardiovascular routine, taking advantage of workplace ergonomics all can give the most advantage to the Barista in terms of physical well-being during their shift and hopefully provide a long-term enjoyable career in coffee.

  6. ddsx

    12 January

    working at button-pushing sbux, i don’t have shoulder or wrist problems. i will say i’m surprised at all the suggestions of wearing “basic flat shoes,” because orthopedic shoes have a thick arched sole. yes, those no slip mats provide a little bit of fatigue cushion, but standing on hard tile all day effs up your arches. definitely wear either orthopedic clogs or good running shoes. my supervisor had this trick of propping the milk pitcher at a 45 degree angle against the bottom of the machine so you don’t have to hold the pitcher the whole time, byt obviously this trick is very machine-specific. working in retail, i always hated the pushing of the extreme perkiness that customers come to expect especially from female sales associates. i don’t believe that level of fakeness attracts more customers.

  7. nameSeth Gold

    12 January

    “as far as emotional stress levels go, much of that is a function of the boss/manager being bad at their jobs. the only coffee jobs i’ve ever felt anxiety about were those in which i didn’t feel supported or genuinely cared for – the rest of the time i could bear the stress easily because i had good management. i think we should talk more about the high quantity of assholes in management positions in the coffee industry if we want to alleviate our baristas’ stress levels.”-


  8. jared rutledge

    11 January

    i think the physical strain can definitely be an issue for some folks, even though it’s never been for me. the whole 30 lbs. nonsense has been around far too long – DOSE PROPERLY, then make it level and even and be gentle to yourself in the process. don’t strain. i’ve been in the industry for 11 years and never had any kind of tamping issue to speak of.

    regarding emotional labor and face-work, isn’t that a product of our strange postmodern society? something i’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the idea of baudrillard’s hyper-reality ( and how that affects our industry. i think we have become used to an inauthentic service interaction in every aspect of our lives, and that becomes the new real, i.e., a place where humans can’t be human. it’s been my mission to be as authentic as possible in my cafe, and to allow my employees to do the same. it’s hard though, as sometimes it’s not received well.

    as far as emotional stress levels go, much of that is a function of the boss/manager being bad at their jobs. the only coffee jobs i’ve ever felt anxiety about were those in which i didn’t feel supported or genuinely cared for – the rest of the time i could bear the stress easily because i had good management. i think we should talk more about the high quantity of assholes in management positions in the coffee industry if we want to alleviate our baristas’ stress levels.

  9. PetrosA

    10 January

    I owned/operated a cafe in Poland for 10 years, and by the end of that time I was totally burned out. My right arm was numb many days, my shoulder and elbow screamed in pain, and emotionally, I was drained. In addition to the strain of barrista work was the strain of running the business, which was always a battle (if you think it’s tough in the US, try it in a country where people DON’T have disposable income ;) ).
    Counter height refrigeration trays sound wonderful and would have eliminated much of the strain I had bending over at the fridge. Tamping didn’t bother me, but inserting and removing the portafilter did. The noise levels were also a strain. Smoking was allowed, so ventilation was on all day, grinders, blenders, dishwashers, a room full of customers talking and music all contributed to the high noise levels. To this day I can remember the few times we lost power and suddenly the only thing I heard was the ringing in my ears.
    Eight hour shifts are bearable. More than that and you don’t really have time for a social life or taking care of yourself. You also need at least one day off per week. I did thirteen days on, one day off for about a year and was a zombie at the end.
    It’s true you have to watch out how much coffee you drink behind the bar. It’s easy to get up to 8 or 12 shots per day which really isn’t healthy and it makes it way harder to deal with the tough customers, you know, the ones who want a warm frozen coffee or who insist you sell them one of your spoons, or who check out each drink bottle with a chunk of quartz on a chain looking for the right vibes…

  10. Maria

    10 January

    Also (and I do acknowledge that dealing with customers can be a extremely draining activity), emotional labor should not be something negative to be cut down, it could be something emotionally rewarding in itself if you achieve the right mindset (the simple joy of giving, helping, being useful and making others happy without the second intention of doing that in order to get something back). That’s why they say that, in order to work in the coffee industry, you must love coffee and love people.
    I understand the article talks about “cutting down emotional labor” as cutting down stress and mindless numbing repetitive tasks (think of production line) and I can’t wait for the new models to be introduced that may lead to a lower overall customer volume as each customer receives more attention.

  11. Maria

    9 January

    Thanks again for bringing up this important discussion and wealth of information. While the first article was pretty worrisome, this second one is full of hope that there are solutions and that people are learning and developing as human beings.
    On the topic of emotional labor, I would like to recommend Seth Godin’s book Linchpin. Emotional labor is what every person in any profession must do. It is what differentiates a replaceable worker from an indispensable one. It is what makes an employee valuable for the company and as such, should not be compensated (only) with tips from customers. When the cafe owners realize that baristas who perform better emotional labor bring in more (loyal) customers and therefore more revenue, they will naturally compensate them with higher wages.

  12. namekatie

    9 January

    To continue, Emotionally/mentally no matter the mix of people you see walk through the door every day it can just be plain hard. I think that after a few years of being overly outgoing and friendly something in me just stopped. That may be because I’m naturally a bit more inverted, but I think I came to value genuine kindness and quality work more than a show. It may be easier to read customers if we quiet down and are listening a bit more to what customers are saying, not only their questions, but body language as well. As the barista/register person we are in charge of the flow of the transaction. Interrupting is not rude, but usually very necessary. Getting to the point quickly makes room for the small talk that we enjoy with our regulars, while leaving them happy that they were taken care of quickly and kindly.
    I must add that as a barista or anyone in the service industry must feel their work is appreciated, both by customers and staff. Being in an environment that cares about eachother and encourages growth and imput will do wonders for our emotional health.
    I love being a barista and working in this ever changing industry, I imagine working doing anything else. Every latte pour is a challenge to make a more beautiful drink and every day holds a new challenge

  13. katie

    9 January

    As a barista of over 11 years I have found both of these articles to be very true of the strain, both physically and mentally that comes with the job.
    Physically – I have had troubles with my dominant wrist and as a result learned to tamp with my other hand. That problem caused me to be very aware of other repetitive motions and took preventative measures. Such as keeping my wrist straight when pouring coffee or steaming milk. One shop I worked at had a counter level 5 gallon milk dispenser, the ice machine was also set on the counter. This helped a ton in having to not bend over and pull open a fridge door continually and lift that gallon of milk repeatedly. Also I agree with the previous comment that basic shoes are great, I usually wear ballet flats and my feet don’t hurt at all.
    Emotionally- I just want to tell every barista to take a big deep breath. I think this is the most wearing part of the job

  14. Alex

    9 January

    To be clear, I agree that this is an informative article, and a very needed series. My post was a response to the author saying this: “If you have other tricks of physical technique or workspace design that can cut down on repetitive strain, please share them in the comments!”

    My trick, if it can be called such, is to maintain a somewhat high level of general health and fitness. I think baristas in general would benefit. If you can comfortably run 8 miles, you can stand for 8 hours. If you can do 20 parallel dips, you can tamp all day.

  15. Nick

    9 January

    While it may not be complicated for you, it is complicated for some people. At least in the United states, we’re not exactly lauded for our Healthy lifestyle choices.

    Factoring in a person’s entire lifestyle is exactly what we need to do, and it’s what this article is suggesting. There is some burden on the work environment to provide a healthy place for employees emotionally and physically. Works out good for the employer, you get more productive and loyal employees and they get a wonderful place to work. I sacrificed better pay to go work somewhere that had VASTLY better treatment of it’s employees.

    Having worked at a shop where 10-hour shifts weren’t just the norm, they were a requirement, these small things rack up QUICKLY. I do really appreciate the point of just being straight to the transaction / coffee and reading people. Many baristas start off in entry level places like Starbucks or Caribou and sort of get this idly cheerful greet-the-customer-and-interrogate-them-about-their-personal-life hammered into them as part of orientation.

    He was mostly pointing out that stand with poor posture has a negative health effect, not standing in general. Taking Tai chi helped me a LOT when I worked in coffee, yet there was still the external pressure coming from poor management and a horrible bar workflow. There was no consideration for ergonomics. More workplaces should seriously look into giving resources for their employees to pursue healthy lifestyles ontop of effective training for reducing emotional and physical strain. Not to mention the education of caffiene on the mind and body of an individual.

    Most people just aren’t aware of the benefits of stretching, eating healthily or MOVING in specific ways. People just don’t put thought into it until it’s pointed out to them.

  16. Alex

    9 January

    I really don’t think this is all that complicated. If you are the sort of person who prioritizes health and fitness outside of work, you’ll have less problems at work. That is, if you have adequate strength and mobility across the basic planes of movement, tamping and standing all day shouldn’t be difficult at all. I would also suggest that wearing flatter shoes would do many baristas a world of good. The higher the heel to forefoot ratio, the more torque is placed on your knees. That stress is moved up the kinetic chain, and can result in back and shoulder problems too.

    There is a gluttony of research to support those points, but perhaps the best evidence is that which I have from first hand experience. My coffee shop has two 40 hour baristas, one of which is me. We work 5 consecutive days, 8 hour shifts, standing and walking 99% of that. Neither of us have had one incident of soar shoulders or knee pain. Not for one second. We wear minimal footwear (think moccasins or other flat things; your feet shouldn’t need supporting) and exercise daily. I’ve run ultramarathons on Saturday, and worked full shifts, without pain, on Monday. Neither her nor I are superhuman. We simply make our health and fitness a priority.

    I really hope this doesn’t sound harsh, or like I’m bragging about imagined physical prowess, because that’s not what this is. I simply think we need to factor in the entire lifestyle when discussing health, rather than putting the focus on our work as baristas. Lest we forget, there is plenty of emerging evidence that standing all day is good for you, as is coffee, as is social interaction. I’d argue that the literature makes a strong case for coffee bar work as entirely health promoting.

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