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Unsung Hero: Brielle Bayless

Unsung Hero: Brielle Bayless

Starbucks Shift Manager serves up your morning coffee with a smile.

Photos by Keith Borgmeyer

“Unsung”: not celebrated or praised

“Hero”: a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character.

A typical morning in the life of Brielle Bayless:

5:30 a.m. — Brielle’s alarm clock goes off. Sometimes, she’s already awake with her son, Benjamin.

6:30 a.m. — Brielle’s mom comes over to watch the boys while she heads into Columbia from Mexico, Missouri for her shift.

7:30 a.m. — If the boys aren’t awake yet, Brielle tells her mom to wake them up and get the day started.

4:00 p.m. — Brielle gets off work at Starbucks, runs errands in Columbia, and heads home to her boys. She’s usually home between 5 and 5:30 p.m. to get dinner started.

Call You by Name

On this atypical morning, Brielle Bayless, the bubbly, blonde, pixie-cut shift manager at Starbucks on West Broadway, sat with me in the COMO Living conference room. Her petite frame settled comfortably in the black armchair at the head of the table. Brielle has been with Starbucks for nine years, transferring to Columbia after two and a half years at a St. Louis location.

But Brielle’s experience as a barista isn’t the reason we decided she was a perfect fit for our Unsung Heroes feature in this issue. Instead, it’s her dedication to her sons, Alex and Benjamin, her parents, her church, and her customers.

I heard about Brielle from COMO Living board member and contributing writer Jill Orr, who has been frequenting that Starbucks on the west side of town for many years. She and her husband, Jimmy, are greeted by Brielle’s warm, smiling face each time they walk through the doors. But here’s the catch: Jill and Jimmy weren’t sure what Brielle’s name was. They knew she was the barista who always made their drinks perfect and greeted them with a cheery “good morning.” But when I described Jill and Jimmy to Brielle, she knew them by name. And they’re not the only ones she remembers.

“I know people’s drinks,” she told me. “I want to have them ready before they even place their order. I typically say ‘good morning! I saw you walk in. Here’s your drink! Have a great day!’”

Before working at Starbucks, Brielle was a part of the physical fitness and personal training world. While she enjoyed that profession, deep down, she knew she needed to do something that was more in line with her passion — she really enjoys customer service. Brielle says: “There’s interaction and friendship when you work in service. You all don’t understand what you mean to me. Customers bring me so much joy.”

Behind the Green Apron

Brielle has two sons that she raises on her own. Alex, 7, is her oldest and helps take care of his younger brother, Benjamin, 5. Benjamin suffers from autism and attends a children’s therapy school in Mexico. Brielle has him working with a private tutor on his speech and occupational therapy.

“The boys get along perfectly,” she says. “Alex is so helpful and loves to take care of his little brother. It was sort of out of nowhere that Benjamin just stopped talking and developing like a normal child. That’s when I knew something had to be wrong.”

Brielle continues: “I’ve been through so much, sometimes running on two or three hours of sleep and trying to raise two boys by myself. Sometimes, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and Benjamin will be wide-awake, swinging on the indoor swing in our house. He is so happy on that swing, but I can’t sleep knowing he’s awake.”

There are two people that Brielle gives credit to for raising her boys and helping her with being a single mom.

“My parents are absolutely amazing,” she says. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing without them. They still live in Mexico and help with the boys while I’m at work. I’m so blessed to have them.”


Finding Strength

Brielle knows she can’t rely just on her parents for support. Instead, she leans on her faith in Christ to give her the inner strength to keep going.

“If it wasn’t for God, I wouldn’t be able to do it all. I’ve learned to lean on my faith more than anything else in the world,” she says.

Through it all, Brielle continues to smile and brighten people’s day with her laugh, her friendly eyes, and the delicious caffeinated drinks she makes. One day, we might see Brielle opening up a shop of her own.

“I’ve always wanted to open up my own bakery!” she says. “I knew working at Starbucks would give me the fix I needed because our pastries are so delicious.”

Obviously, I had to ask Brielle what her favorite dessert is to make (and I encouraged her to bring it to our cover shoot the following week…), and she listed off a handful of delicious things: banana bread, Oreo chocolate cheesecake, muffins, apple dumplings. In case you’re wondering what Brielle’s favorite drink at Starbucks is, it’s a hot mocha. And I bet, when she makes it, it’s the most delicious hot mocha there ever was.

There’s a story behind every barista, but next time you go into the Starbucks on West Broadway, look for Brielle. She’s the joyful, faithful, and dedicated mother who truly makes people smile every single day. Smile back, say hello, and ask for a venti hot mocha. I guarantee she’ll make it perfect.

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