Well-known barista to depart after 6 years

By Zoe Jovanovich | Sep 11, 2013
Courtesy of: Susie Thomson Carly Thomson, a barista at Pier Java, wears her bunny ears while serving coffee to customers on Easter. After six years, Thomson will work her last day on Friday, Sept. 13, before moving to Spokane for college.

One of Mukilteo’s well-known and loved baristas will be serving her last cups of coffee to customers this Friday.

Carly Thomson, 22, has worked at Pier Java for six years. Her last scheduled shift will be on Sept. 13, before she moves to Spokane to attend the Dental Hygiene School at Eastern Washington University.

Thomson started working at the drive-thru coffee stand at 8252 Mukilteo Speedway in the summer of 2007, when she was 16 years old.

“It was super hot that summer, and I remember being inside the little tiny box of a coffee stand and thinking that it must be thousands of degrees in there,” she said.

Thomson also juggled a second job assisting at a dentist office in Silver Lake for a time. She needed the hours as part of the requirements to get into dental hygiene.

After graduating from Kamiak High School in 2009, Thomson attended Shoreline Community College to earn an associate’s degree and complete her dental hygiene perquisite courses. She also played soccer as a center midfielder for Shoreline.

Although school and soccer kept her busy, Thomson continued to work at Pier Java.

“I didn’t quit Pier Java because I loved it so much and it provided flexible hours for me,” she said.

Thomson was first 92.9 KISM “Barista Babe.” The radio station picked her photo out of all the photos of local baristas who entered the contest. The station featured her photo on the website, interviewed her on the air and awarded her with numerous prizes.

“To me it was more about the fun than it was the prizes,” Thomson said. “I had random people coming into the coffee stand for months asking who the 'Barista Babe' was; it was quite funny.”

She has worked numerous holidays and dressed up for the occasion. She wore bunny ears for Easter, fleece footie pajamas for Christmas and her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume for Halloween.

Many customers have grown to love Thomson, and she said that it is both “comical” and “a blast” to run into them outside of her work setting.

“Carly has quite a varied bunch of customers at Pier Java, who have become friends of all ages,” said her mom, Susie Thompson. “You can't go anywhere with Carly in this area, where she doesn't wave or get stopped to visit with a customer. Even the mail lady stopped to visit on a recent walk with Carly.”

Customers have tipped Thomson with Mariner’s tickets, home-baked treats, fresh shrimp from the ocean, and flowers on her birthday.

One time, Thomson ran into a customer while she was having dinner with a friend, and the customer picked up the tab.

“It was very sweet of him,” she said.

Thomson said that her customers are more to her than just coffee drinkers.

“My customers really feel more like friends than they do customers,” she said. “Many times, they drive away from the stand without their coffee, because we both got so distracted chatting that we completely forget that they were there to get coffee.”

Besides her customers, Thomson will also miss the dogs that come by every morning to get a whipped cream-covered dog treat, and last but not least: her co-workers.

However, Thomson said that she definitely won’t miss accidentally locking herself out of the stand and having to climb in through the window. Which has happened more than once.

Pier Java owner Tara Heichel said she will also miss Thomson, who also helped manage the stand.

“I’ll miss just knowing that she’s always there and that I can count on her,” she said. “She remembers all of [the customers’] orders, and that’s a big deal running a coffee stand.

“And I’ll just miss her silliness.”

Heichel wishes her well at school in Spokane.

“I just feel like she’s gotten really mature since I met her,” Heichel said. “She’s a really motivated person, and I think she’ll do well in life.”

Thomson is sad that she is leaving, but is excited for the next step in her life at Dental Hygiene School.

“I couldn't have been accepted into the program without the support, love and encouragement of my family, friends, customers, co-workers, teammates and community,” she said. “I'm extremely thankful.”

Zoe Jovanovich is an intern for the Mukilteo Beacon.

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