Bucknellians spotlight series: Terri Martin, 7th Street barista

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Tyne Miller, Contributing Writer

Putting a Smile On All

The Seventh Street Cafe is a cherished spot on campus for students, professors and faculty alike. The quaint corner cafe holds the solution to early mornings, a caffeine crash, desire for a yummy snack and lively interactions with the hardworking baristas. Terri Martin, a long-time Seventh Street Cafe barista, stands out for her hardworking attitude, ability to relate to students and knack for putting a smile on those who interact with her. 

“It is hard to believe I’m going on my eighth year at Bucknell, and I’ve loved every moment of it,” Martin said. The University has come to recognize Martin through the Flyson, the Bison and, more recently, the Seventh Street Cafe. Many have seen her, made small talk with her and appreciated the coffee she makes without knowing her name. Those who have taken the time out of their day to get to know her, know of her kindness and great sense of humor.

Most, however, do not know that under her constant smile, Martin works hard to assure that the cafe is fully stocked and prepared before its opening at 7 a.m. each day. When asked about her favorite parts of her job, Martin responded, “I love making the drinks and smelling the flavors of the flavored coffee and working with the amazing student workers.” Martin begins each work day with excitement to meet new people and see “old friends,” and thus the contagious smile never leaves her face. 

Just last week, there was a basket of free Rice Krispie Treats at the counter near the register with a handwritten note that read: “Please take a treat and share my birthday with me!” Of course, it was Terri who went the extra mile to share her special day with all of her customers, whether they knew it or not. The basket was empty within an hour and hopefully she received as many birthday wishes as treats! 

Still Connecting During Covid

As with all aspects of University life, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the setting and nature of the Seventh Street Cafe. The menu boards above the counter, that usually feature hot sandwiches and desserts, now showcase a limited selection of premade, frozen foods; as for the drinks, they are still supplying their famous milkshakes and addicting coffee/espresso beverages. The small cafe space — which had always been known for being impossible to find a seat in due to the crowds of students studying, eating and socializing in their booths and couches — now has most of its chairs turned upside-down on the tables to prevent anyone from staying. 

“We get less guests that come in. I miss lots of people that came in before COVID-19. I miss seeing a lot of those guests that used to come in,” Martin said. Although the setting is not as vibrant as it once was, the upbeat music, strong coffees and Martin’s smile remain in-tact. 

A typical work day for Martin begins early in the morning, as she heads to the cafe to make sure everything is stocked and ready for customers. She works the day shift five days a week, which she comments is the best shift to work. 

Outside of Campus

When asked about her past, Martin said, “That’s an interesting question!” She went on to explain that she “grew up all over the world,” and said, “I had the privilege of being an army brat. I was born in Virginia but left there at a year old to go to Germany. I moved up here from York county 18 years ago.” On her days off, Martin spends time with her 4-year-old granddaughter who puts that same smile on her face. 

Terri empathizes with the experiences of college students leaving home to find a new home on campus because of her own childhood experiences. “I think living in other countries and leaving family behind made it easy for me to relate to the students on campus even at my advanced age. That, and I don’t act my age,” she said. Seventh Street regulars know this through their conversations with Terri; the questions she asks and her thoughtful encouragement. It is not often that such an impactful and comfortable exchange can come through a warm (or iced) cup of coffee. 

The Best Barista

During this interview, Martin expressed her gratitude and appreciation for the University community. She loves “the campus, but most of all the students. They are some of the greatest people I have ever had the privilege of getting to know.” During a time where social interaction is limited, it is refreshing to have individuals like Martin who make a point to connect with everyone they see. Through the thoughtful ways Martin interacts with the students, professor and faculty who visit this cafe, the cafe has become more than just a cup of coffee or a snack to many. We should all learn this one thing from this memorable barista: “There are so many things you can learn here you just have to listen.”

 

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