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Brewin’ Barista Boys

Missouri Baptist University offers the biggest on-campus coffeehouse in Missouri. In order to be such a popular spot to drink coffee and hang out, friendly barista boys are a necessity.

Photos by Haley Sandvoss

Senior Chance Ludy, business management major, and senior Mason Crabtree, health sciences major and double minor in communications studies and healthcare management, are two of four new barista boys at the Perk. Ludy and Crabtree share their experiences with making drinks and memories on the job. 

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Missouri Baptist University has a popular spot in the middle of campus for students to hang out and get a cup of coffee, the Perk, which was founded in 2007 and remains the university’s go-to place for caffeine and fellowship.

An inviting atmosphere greets students as they walk in the door and see the baristas smiling as a warm fireplace provides a comfortable gathering area during the winter time.

The Perk is a place for the MBU campus to come together for socializing, a good cup of coffee or cramming in those last-minute assignments before class. They serve organic, fair-trade coffee from St. Louis-based Chauvin Coffee, as well as specialty teas.

With the Perk growing in popularity, each year as senior employees graduate, new baristas are needed. This year that means four new barista boys and four new barista girls.

Senior Mason Crabtree, health sciences major and double minor in communications studies and healthcare management, from Plato, Missouri, has been employed at the Perk for less than two months.

Chance Ludy, senior business management major from Foristell, Missouri, is another new barista boy this year, having worked at the Perk since July 2018 with plans to work the full year.

Junior Barret Moore, a Christian ministry major from Blue Springs, Missouri, just started working at the Perk this year.

Carter Kennedy displaying his favorite drink to make, a hot peppermint mocha.

Carter Kennedy, a freshman music education major from Maryland Heights, Missouri, is not only new to working at the Perk, but new to the university this year.  

For any job, some type of training needs to occur, but the Perk does not require its new employees to go through a long process of quizzes or tests. Instead, once they’ve observed so much and learned how to make all of the drinks, then they are ready to work.

“My training as a barista was pretty much, ‘I’m going to jump behind the counter and start working,’” said Ludy, who worked over the summer with Alec Blackford, an MBU graduate from Springfield, Illinois, who is pursuing a master’s degree in higher education starting in January. “It really helped that the summer was slow, so I just kind of went with the flow as well as learned throughout my shifts how to do the job.”

However, training was a bit different for Crabtree, who began training for his barista job while also training to be a residential assistant on campus.

“My first day of training was very chill. It was about an hour and a half, the manager and I ran through the basics of what it takes to be a barista,” said Crabtree. “We ran though ratios for specialty lattes, mixes for different drinks, how to properly steam milk and pour it to make latte art. I came in during Welcome Weekend and watched the assistant manager and other baristas make drinks throughout their shift. Once I observed for three hours I then got my first shift the following week.”

On a day-to-day basis, baristas at the Perk spend their free time with each other making latte art. They have competitions to see whose is the best as well as who can make sandwiches the fastest.

“We haven’t had a latte competition for awhile, but once we get around to having another one I’ll be ready,” said Crabtree.

Whenever they get a break, they also stock up the water jug and cold case, which is filled with grapes, carrots, sandwiches and other healthy snacks for sale.

According to Ludy, being a barista is a lot of busy work, with rushes typically at the end of class hours. Some exciting things have happened to these new barista boys while on the job.

Ludy said he has made some amazing friendships with MBU faculty, staff and students coming up to the counter and ordering drinks.

Mason Crabtree displays a delicious caramel macchiato.

“The most exciting thing that has happened to me since working at the Perk is I started an awesome friendship with Mitchell Vierling. It all started with just a little conversation about Jesus one night while I was working, and it has already taken off,” said Ludy.

Crabtree has also enjoyed some exciting shifts at the Perk.

“The most exciting thing that’s happened to me while working at the Perk so far is finally being able to say I can make latte art. When I first started, my latte art came out in blobs,” Crabtree said. “Now I can present drinks with the lid off and show the Rosetta that I make.”

Something memorable that happened to Kennedy was when he first started working at the Perk and was still new at making drinks, as well as making friends with the fellow baristas.

One shift was particularly memorable when he worked with Kelsey Dotson, a junior from Labedy, Missouri, who is double majoring in special education and elementary education.

“We introduced ourselves, and then both said that we really had no idea what we were doing. We had so much fun trying to figure out how to make drinks and having seasoned customers help us,” said Kennedy. “We really bonded that shift, and now we have an amazing friendship because of it.”

The most artistic drink to make is a latte, and baristas take time to work on designs on top.

“I’ve been working really hard at perfecting the drinks I make for the customers,” said Crabtree.

Each barista comes to work at the Perk for different reasons.

Ludy said, like any college student when he saw the opening at the Perk, he knew it was a good way to earn some extra spending money.

“I chose to be a barista for the money to have during school and also the free drink a day,” said Ludy. “Being a barista, you get this huge opportunity to talk to the MBU population, working behind the counter, and you get to meet amazing people.”

For Crabtree, he had been looking for a job that was out of the ordinary, and the Perk looked to be the perfect fit.

“I wanted to explore the work that goes behind making a good cup of Joe. Trying something different besides the typical on-desk job,” Crabtree said. “This in the end really appealed to me, and I feel this is where I belong.”

These barista boys share the enthusiasm they have in making drinks for the customers who walk in the door, and they also have their favorite drinks to make.

For Ludy it’s the Mint of Mexico, which has a minty cinnamon taste.

“It’s my favorite drink to make because I made it up, it tastes good and I’m really proud of myself for that,” said Ludy.

Crabtree, on the other hand, has a different favorite to make: the Raspberry Coconut Italian Soda, which is fruity and refreshing. “It makes me feel like I’m on the beach.”

“It has a red bottom, you can taste the delicious coconut as well as it has a good fizz like a LaCroix,” said Crabtree.

For Moore, his drink isn’t unusual, it’s actually something ordered often.

“My favorite drink to make is a strawberry smoothie, don’t even have to think about it. I’m the smoothie king. That’s always been my thing,” said Moore.

Kennedy has two favorites he enjoys making.

“My favorite drink to make at the Perk is probably a peppermint mocha latte. It is delicious and puts me in the Christmas spirit, as well as lets me practice making latte art,” said Kennedy. “A close second would be my own creation called ‘Holy Frappe!’ It is a white chocolate frappe with peppermint, plus, you know I whip it good with that whip cream.”

If you haven’t been to the Perk on MBU’s campus, head on over for a tasty drink and meet these new barista boys.

Click on this link for a related story on the new barista girls, featuring the four new girls who were hired this year.


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Haley Sandvoss

Haley Sandvoss

Haley Sandvoss is a staff journalist for MBU Timeline, with a major in public relations and a minor in broadcast media. Sandvoss enjoys being captain of the MBU cheerleading team, as well as singing in chorale and chamber singers. In her little free time you can find Sandvoss drinking coffee and taking photos all around St. Louis for her fashion Instagram page. Sandvoss hopes to eventually pursue a job in the public relations field at a theatre.

@mbutimeline

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