ELAC Student works with pandemic changes at local coffee shop

by Jesse de Anda

Staff Writer

As the world suddenly shutdown Javier Araujo, a student worker at East Los Angeles College, adjusted to the new way of life.

Floating in a cup was a fluffy white heart sitting comfortably in a light brown foam. The sitting area was silent. Voices bled in from the kitchen in the back. There were no customers inside Tierra Mia. 

The shop no longer allowed  people to sit inside and drink their coffee. Workers wore gloves and masks while making drinks for people listed on a screen. Most students use coffee to power through their day. The caffeinated drink is perfect for studying, doing homework,or stressing over the work you should be doing. Baristas are the people who make the highly addicting, energy- filled drinks, which vary in color. One such barista is Javier Araujo, a 22-year-old student at ELAC. Araujo works as a manager at Tierra Mia in Montebello. 

Not only does he make strange drinks but, he also manages other people who do. However, since the state shut down due to Covid-19, things have been different. 

Since the lockdown began, Araujo hasn’t taken a customer’s order in person. Only pickups are allowed. To him this is strange, He was used to seeing a line of people and a room full of people enjoying their coffees. So many people that they stayed open after hours, to fully service people. He recalls once having two men come inside and order 19 Americano, a shot of espresso with water added to dilute. “It was annoying as hell!” he said. He stood there repeating the process. Pull a shot, pour the shot into water and stir. 

Things are different now. Two months into the California Lockdown business was nowhere near usual. Workers have to be more cautious. They are required to wear masks and gloves at all times during their shift. Araujo washes his hands every 30 minutes. Lines are now outside the store.

 Only one customer is allowed in at a time to pick up their drink. Along with the customers, are fleets of drivers for people’s Postmates orders. 

Before lockdown began Araujo had a system. Coffee, school,and then work. It was his daily schedule for the week.

 “It worked because you have coffee and then you do stuff and burn the energy,” he said. It was his tool for keeping lively for the day. 

However, along with the changes at work, the shift to online classes came swiftly and suddenly. As the shift to online classes began, Araujo has been struggling to get the flow down. Dealing with classes on a screen has been difficult for him. “You need to check your schedule a lot,” Araujo said. He talked about how strange it was to just log on to class instead of going to school. The most uncomfortable thing about Zoom for him was the blank name with no face. 

With substantial changes at work and school, one constant has helped Araujo, coffee. The drink, which has energized him before the lockdown, has become essential. Araujo has always enjoyed brewing a cup of coffee. But nowadays, he drinks more coffee than ever. 

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