The alarm goes off as the clock flashes 4 a.m. She dresses, downs a quick cup of coffee and jumps on her bike. Peddling through the still-sleeping streets of Portland, Ore., she is joined by legions of other young people just like herself — minimum-wage players in the huge Northwest coffee culture.
The air is cool and crisp as they unlock the doors of the coffeehouses where they work and start to brew pots of specialty coffees. When the line of people wanting their 'skinny' mocha, Americano or soy-milk latte forms, the crew had better be ready — not only with coffee made to order and a breakfast pastry but also with a smile and kind word.
It's the smile and the familiar greeting that people hunger and thirst for in this land of overindulgence. Portland's young baristas serve them one smile, one cup of kindness at a time.
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