Up all night: Working at Starbucks at 3 a.m.


Christy Wu | Staff Photographer

The Fifth Ave. Starbucks on Pitt’s campus is Pittsburgh’s first location open 24 hours Sunday through Thursday.

By Brian Gentry, Senior Staff Writer

A total of three people — two sitting together and one studying by themselves — are in the Fifth Avenue Starbucks. It’s an odd scene, given the usual hustle and bustle of a store that sometimes has lines that make you wait more than 10 minutes. Then again, not too many people are craving caffeine at 1:30 a.m.

The Fifth Avenue Starbucks recently expanded its hours so that it is open all day — and night — Sunday through Thursday. It previously opened at 5:30 a.m. and closed at 10:30 p.m., meaning that the store is open an additional seven hours per day for coffee drinkers around the clock.

The store is the first 24-hour Starbucks in Pittsburgh, according to the company’s location list. Large cities — as well as major airports across the country, such as Chicago O’Hare — have the highest concentration of 24-hour locations.

According to Presley Roberts, a junior biology major who works at the Fifth Avenue Starbucks, the additional hours were seen as an opportunity to be the first to provide a constant coffee and study space for students on campus.

“We don’t have any [24-hour Starbucks] in this area. Even the one on Atwood right across the street isn’t 24 hours,” Roberts said. “People were like, ‘Oh my gosh, it closes so early.’ So people would have to pack up all their stuff and move to the library.”

Sophia Rebarchak, a junior chemical engineering major, works the 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift at the Starbucks store. She said that she enjoys the night shift because it’s much quieter than daytime shifts.

“I think it’s fun,” Rebarchak said. “Everyone’s pretty cool, and it’s not as high volume as during the day.”

To stay busy with such few customers coming into the store, Rebarchak said she and her coworkers work on other tasks.

“We have to do cleaning tasks, restocking, making sure everything’s prepped for the morning when it is busy, making cold brews and stuff like that,” Rebarchak said.

The most commonly ordered drink at that hour?

“People just kind of come in for black coffee,” Rebarchak said. And since it’s almost October — “pumpkin spice lattes.” 

Roberts said the store isn’t particularly busy during the night. She works later shifts than Rebarchak — either the 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift or the 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. shift. From midnight to 6 a.m., the store usually gets only one or two customers actually ordering coffee, but Roberts said she’s seen people use it as a reprieve from typical study spaces like Hillman Library.

“There’s a lot of people studying and stuff, but not everyone’s necessarily getting coffee in the middle of the night because they don’t need it yet,” Roberts said.

For Roberts, a pre-med student, working the night and early morning shift gives her a glimpse at what her life will be like in 10 years.

“It’s usually just people at 6 a.m. going to work at the hospitals,” Roberts said. “That’s pretty cool because that’s what I want to do, to be a doctor.”

Roberts said that she enjoys the night shift because it’s given her an opportunity to get close with the other baristas — with little coffee to brew, she gets to spend a lot of time talking with her coworkers. But while her shift is relatively tame now, she thinks that once midterm season starts, more people will flock to the store for caffeine and study space.

“I honestly think that in a few weeks when everyone starts coming, during the semester and during finals … there might be more during the nighttime,” Roberts said.

Rebarchak thinks the same. She said she’s ready for the influx of people.

“Most nights during the school year when it is busy, like midterms and finals, we have to kick people at like 11,” Rebarchak said. “So there will be business for us overnight.”

For some frequent customers, such as Rozie Fero, this is a game-changer. Fero, a sophomore information sciences and Chinese major, always orders her usual iced Caffe Americano or black coffee.

“Every day I have class, I’m in there multiple times a day,” Fero, who works at the Starbucks at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Craig Street, said.

Fero uses the space as not just study space, but also as an area to socialize and meet with friends. With the expanded hours, she’s excited to visit at odd hours of the night.

“They’re really one of the first 24-hour coffee shops in Pittsburgh,” Fero said. “I think it’ll be a great opportunity for people who have late-night study habits, including myself, to just go get their coffee and still have time to study peacefully.”