Love is brewing

How one woman took her shot and picked up her favorite barista.

Have you ever had a crush on your barista?

A lot of people do — after all, how could you not get attached to the person responsible for the best part of your morning? — but most never act on it.

For a long time, Kaleena thought she would be one of them. Every when every morning all she could do was think about how cute Chris looked preparing her drink, she could never find the courage to talk to him.

That changed when universe handed her an opportunity on a silver platter. When Kaleena noticed one day that Chris was reading the same book she was studying in her MFA program, she knew she had to say hello.

Soon they were sitting down to talk about books every day. A few weeks after that, they were on their first date. Five years later, they sat down with Meet Cutes to tell their story.

How did you meet? 

Kaleena: Chris was working as a barista in the office building where I worked. I ordered coffee from him every day but I was too nervous to talk to him. Every day that I didn’t flirt with him or talk to him I was like Ugh, you fool.

One day, I went down to the coffee shop and he was sitting at a table reading the bo sameok that I was studying in my MFA program. I was like, This is a sign! This is your chance! So I went up to him and told him I was reading the same book. We talked about it for a while. And then after that we met up at that coffee shop every day to talk.

Chris: She was like the fifth or sixth person that had walked up to me and been like “Hey, that’s a really good book, what do you think of it?” And they were all really bro-y guys. I asked her if she had finished it and she was like “Oh yeah, I finished it” and then started spoiling it for me!

The next day I got off work and she was there, and I was like “Hey, wanna talk about this book some more?” It was very natural and platonic. It was great. 

How long had you been trying to get Chris’s attention? 

Kaleena: It had been a couple of months. Almost every morning I’d go upstairs to my coworkers and they’d be like “Did you say anything to him?” and I’d be like “No, I chickened out.”

What caught your eye about him?

Kaleena: I just thought he was so cute. He wore a cute little beanie while he made drinks. There was also an energy thing. He was very kind to everyone. I was just drawn to him. 

Did you know Kaleena was into you from all her visits to your coffee shop?

Chris: I had no idea. I very much respected the employee-customer relationship. I didn’t give it a second thought when she came up to me. I was just like I’ve never seen this person in my life. There’s a lot of people that come and get coffee here and I don’t notice many of them. 

How long did it take you to catch on?

Chris: It took a while. I was just impressed that somebody was enjoying having conversations about books and literature with me. Finally she was like “Hey, are you gonna ask me out?” And I got so nervous and said “Oh, I gotta go.” And I just walked away for a minute. But then I came back and was like “Hey, do you want to go out and get a drink?” I made it right, but in the moment I had no idea what was going on!

Kaleena: It had been months of meeting in that spot and talking! But when we would wrap up he’d be like “Okay, bye!” He never asked me for my phone number or anything.

I was confused. I felt like we were having the best time ever, but nothing was coming of it. And I just couldn’t figure it out. That’s what I was finally like I’m not crazy. I feel like this person is definitely enjoying my company, at the very least.

He did seem scared and nervous when I asked. I felt like I had blown it and misinterpreted the whole thing. But then he came back right after and he did want to go out with me. 

What did you do for your first date? 

Chris: We went to this bookstore-slash-bar and got drinks and sat at a table and did the same exact thing we’d been doing but in a different location. For our first date date night I brought her to this fancy sushi place. And we sat down, ordered drinks and looked at the menu and had this moment where we looked at each other like Uhhh, we don’t eat fancy sushi. Where’s the California roll? It was nice to connect over that.

Kaleena: I felt very nervous leaving our safety zone of the coffee shop and our normal conversations. But I feel like that was when we were more open about our feelings for each other. 

How did things grow from there? 

Chris: After our few months of coffee shop friendship, we pretty quickly started dating and were like “This is amazing! This is going great!” I think we moved in within three or four months of starting dating. And a year after moving in Covid hit. We had a great time in the house, being stuck together. It kept on being fun. We kept traveling and going on dates. We got a little dog together. 

Kaleena: We like spending time together. All that foundation we built of platonic conversations really set us up for success. When we were ready to be a couple it felt easy to catch up. It felt very natural and easy to move into a serious relationship. 

What’s the secret to picking up your barista? 

Chris: Just be upfront. Be like “Hey, by the way, I think you’re attractive and I’d like to have a conversation.” 

Kaleena: I do love the way it happened with us. I’m not super spiritual or anything, but when Chris and I were reading the same massive book it did feel like the universe was literally like Here you go, silver platter, I couldn’t be making it easier for you to talk to this person. 

It’s always worth it to shoot your shot and try to find a commonality. I lucked out with the book, but it’s worth it to try. You’re no worse off if they say no, and you still get your drink!

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📊Last Week We Asked…

  • Do you believe in astrological compatibility?

    • 42% said “No way! Astrology has nothing to do with it”

    • 33% said “Yes! Love is written in the stars”

    • 25% said “I’m not sure”

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Interviewed and transcribed by Nicolas Vega. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.