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A team of older baristas is set to pour lattes thanks to new program

Tim Nelson
September 05, 2018

When you picture a coffee shop’s staff, who do you see? Probably some youngish hipsters looking to pay their way through an MFA in literature. Well, that’s probably inaccurate as it is, but one specific Mexican Starbucks in is here to shatter your barista stereotypes even further.

That’s because a Mexico City location of the coffee chain will soon be fully staffed and operated by a team of senior citizens. In total, seen adults between the ages of 55 and 65 are living out their ‘golden years’ cranking out grande macchiatos, Frappuccinos, and all manner of coffee-based beverages.

The, shall we say, well-seasoned Starbucks staff isn’t some freak coincidence, but part of a concerted effort. Starbucks worked with Mexico’s National Institute for the Elderly (INAPAM) to set up the program, part of a broader plan to connect senior citizens looking for work with employment opportunities. In addition to a salary, those on staff have access to basic medical insurance. These employees are guaranteed at least two days off a week, and shifts are capped at six-and-a-half hours.

Appropriately but perhaps a bit ironically, it’s younger Starbucks employees who have been tasked with training their older counterparts. Despite the potential awkwardness of such an arrangement, it sounds like things are going swimmingly so far.

“They treat us with a lot of respect and courtesy,” new barista and senior citizen Sergio Arrioja told Reuters. “I think we’ve formed a very interesting bond, and at the end of the day it’s a productive job for everyone.”

Starbucks Mexico has plans to extend this pilot program further, with a goal of hiring 120 employees aged 55 or older by the end of 2018. The company sees it as an opportunity to connect seniors looking to stay in (or re-enter) the workforce with decent employment opportunities.

Of course, it’d be great to live in a world where those retirees have their needs looked after and can spend their days leisurely sipping coffee instead of making it for others, but such is the world we live in. Don’t be shocked if this idea catches on stateside, given that soon enough nobody will be able to afford to retire unless we all start funneling that coffee money into our 401ks.  

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