RICHMOND, Va. -- David Avery knows his coffee. In fact, the Henrico-based Starbucks barista knows coffee so well, he earned the coffee chain's coveted black apron — a special designation that only goes to those who put in the time and effort to continue their coffee studies.
"I'm a certified coffee master," Avery said on the latest episode of Eat It, Virginia! "[The black apron is for those who] want to continue their growth and development within the company. Getting that apron was a big deal for me."
You can find Avery most mornings at the Starbucks on Gaskins Road near Interstate 64.
While it's a smaller location, the line can sometimes wrap around the building and spill out onto the road.
"Oh, I know how long it is. I'm literally one of the first people there. So I see the line as it builds," he said. "That line is definitely long and it's just only because we serve the best damn coffee in the state of Virginia. But we definitely do our best to make sure we're accurate and to make sure we're fast."
One reason for the long line is the intricate orders Starbucks customers like to concoct. A trend that has exploded as fans share their favorite "off-menu" order on TikTok.
"There are times when people will come through the drive-thru and I will automatically know just from what they're ordering, that it is a TikTok drink," Avery said. "For example, it'll be a venti white mocha, no whipped cream, substituted with a vanilla sweet cream cold foam with extra caramel drizzle. Or it'll be an iced coffee with oat milk and vanilla sweet cream cold foam with a shot of espresso. And sometimes people will add caramel drizzle and stuff like that to it."
And please keep in mind, Avery and his fellow baristas won't say no, no matter how complicated the order.
"Saying no is not an option," he said. "Things can get a little complicated. If it's a car full of TikTok drinks, we just tell them, we just take our time. I mean, you're gonna be here a while. We'll also give the option, if you've got a specific kind of order like that, usually, the inside is pretty open so come on inside. We might have you park in the parking lot."
Learn more about David and his journey from coffee drinker to coffee master on the Eat It, Virginia podcast.
EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews