Seattle Coffee Guide: Career Baristas

Posted December 15, 2010

Any coffee aficianado worth her weight in coffee beans knows that Vivace's Brian Fairbrother is the king of Seattle's career baristas, but Seattle has a ton of other career baristas, many who started with Starbucks, one of our oldest coffee chains. Here are a few examples provided by the folks at Starbucks Corporate office, who else out there has had 10 years of experience as a barista? We want to hear your story. Please leave us a comment.

Dave Thomas – Shift Supervisor, University of Washington- Tacoma Store, Tacoma
Dave Thomas began at Starbucks 21 years ago after working with the National Park Service which took him away from home every year from May to October. He was a frequent Starbucks customer and decided it would be a fun place to work when he was looking for a career change. Dave was hired as a barista on February 13, 1989.

While working at a Lakewood Mall location Dave met Toni, a customer who would later become his wife. Toni, also looking for a career change, soon joined Dave at Starbucks. Dave and Toni have now been married for 19 years and both continue to enjoy their work as baristas.

Throughout the years, Dave has enjoyed his daily experiences at Starbucks and opportunities to work on projects including working to open the Phoenix market in 1995-1996.

Dave continues to appreciate the flexibility that working as a Starbucks barista allows in his life. When asked why he remains at Starbucks after all these years, Dave said, “…I like to make people happy! Create a magical moment in someone’s day.” To this day, Dave has fun at work in what he calls a “quality, social environment.”

Terri Knutsen - Store Manager, 64th and Meeker Store, Kent
Terri began working at Starbucks in 1988 as a store barista after holding jobs at Salty’s Restaurant and at an independent espresso cart in Children’s Hospital. While working at Salty’s Restaurant, Terri became familiar with Starbucks when the restaurant began serving Starbucks coffee. Terry believed in the quality that the Starbucks brand stands for, and this led her to eventually apply for a position.

Terri has always loved serving customers and being part of a team. After two decades working for Starbucks, Terri has served thousands of customers all over Western Washington. She is known for her commitment to the customer experience and the quality of Starbucks coffee.

Happily married with two children, Terri’s equity in Starbucks through stock options has helped her family purchase a vacation home and provides financial security. Terri’s son, Connor, is now carrying on the tradition, working at Starbucks as a barista.

Susan Doolittle – Barista, Westgate Store, Tacoma
Susan began working at Starbucks in June 1989 while she was looking to make a career change. She was initially hired as a barista to help stores fill in any needed shifts and eventually settled into her home store in Tacoma where she remains today.

Over the years, Susan has enjoyed developing personal relationships with her customers. Working at the same location since joining Starbucks, she has been able to see children and grand children of her customers grow up. Susan’s commitment to customers is evident as she was recently invited to the graduation of a customer who she met when the customer was only one week old.

Susan sincerely values what Starbucks has done over the years and envisions herself working for Starbucks for years to come.

Bjarne Christiansen – Shift Supervisor, Rainier and Edmunds Store, Seattle
After moving to the U.S. from Denmark, Bjarne began his career as a Starbucks barista in 1988 at the Columbia Center store. Over the years, Bjarne served coffee to customers in locations throughout downtown Seattle, working multiple locations including Benaroya Hall, Pine St. and Pike Place Market

After spending the majority of his career in downtown Seattle, Bjarne craved a change and the new experience of working in a neighborhood store. Bjarne transferred to the Rainier Plaza location three years ago and now enjoys seeing familiar faces and visiting with his regular customers everyday.

Bjarne has appreciated the flexibility that being a Starbuck barista provides him, often taking advantage of his schedule to travel, as well as the genuine connections he has made with Starbucks partners and customers.


Article provided by Starbucks coporate office.

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