Meet Christy Huerta: Latin’s Own Coffee Roaster and Bagel Toaster


Charlie Coleman

Ms. Huerta prepares to close the kiosk after the notorious 3 p.m. Middle School rush. The pastries have been raided.

Many Latin students have their routines down. Skip breakfast, go to class, hop in the line at the kiosk during their brief long block break, and get their go-to bagel or custom coffee. But how many Latin students have had a conversation past, “ID please?” with the dedicated Hand Cut Foods (HCF) employee behind the counter? From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, students can find Christy Huerta behind the counter, bagging warm, gooey cookies and crafting students’ bizarre specialty orders.

So, where did Latin and HCF find such a Picasso of the coffee bean?

Ms. Huerta grew up in Albany Park, attended Theodore Roosevelt High School, and still resides in her hometown neighborhood. She began her life as Latin’s go-to barista two years ago through a connection with HCF as her sister is a manager at their base camp in Chicago. Over the past two years, she’s improved the kiosk for everyone in the Latin community, and students are grateful for her commitment.

Sophomore Bear Beghe said, “During my freshman year, I probably ordered from her almost eight times a day. So that’s me, one freshman, and then times probably 30 other freshmen [doing the same thing]. She always has a line. … And after school, the Middle Schoolers migrate to the kiosk and bombard her with orders. So I feel like she has a lot of work and probably could use some assistance.”

Despite Ms. Huerta’s endless frenzy of customers, she is always eager to make the next order. “I love making new drinks,” Ms. Huerta said. She makes an abundance of vanilla lattes but has seen everything from a “raspberry mocha to a raspberry iced coffee with no milk.” Who the students placing these orders are, we may never know. But a secret underground menu is certainly circulating Latin.

“I wanna say everything’s popular, [but] this started last year: there’s a LaCroix with raspberry or LaCroix with vanilla,” Ms. Huerta said. Although she may do a double-take when hearing students’ orders, Ms. Huerta is always up for the challenge.

“If you ask me if I can do something, I will try my best,” Ms. Huerta said. “I’ve done peppermint mochas, which not a lot of people know that I have here. I also have macchiatos. If you ask for it, I will make it.” From vanilla to raspberry, croissants to muffins, and Americanos to La Colombe lattes, satisfying Latin’s caffeine addiction and sweet tooth is no easy task.

Ms. Huerta’s mornings start much earlier than that of most Latin students. “I wake up around 5:30 in the morning, and it’s actually a one-hour commute. I don’t have a car, so I take the CTA. I walk from home to the CTA for 20 minutes, take the CTA for 40 minutes, and then it’s about a 10-minute walk [to Latin].” Still, she enjoys being Latin’s beloved barista.

Ms. Huerta starts her work in the Upper School around 7:50 a.m., as she has to prepare for intermittent kiosk rushes plus the notorious 3 p.m. Middle School rush. “I go downstairs, I get all the things that I’m missing from the fridge, [and items] from bagels to muffins to chips,” Ms. Huerta said. But the most hectic part of it all may be a flashback to her first weeks here.

Coming into work on her first day, Ms. Huerta said, “I didn’t know anything about coffee. I didn’t even know what a mocha was. I only had a 30-minute training. That was it. [Then] at 9 a.m. I had to open the kiosk and ask [students], ‘What do you want to drink?’” The only training Ms. Huerta received was “put espresso in the cup and then the milk.”

Later that day, after the morning rush, when students retreated back to their teachers after spending an extra five minutes on their long block break, Ms. Huerta took to researching on her own. Without any professional baristas at Latin, besides students who learn specialty orders off TikTok, Ms. Huerta said, “[I] actually used the Starbucks app to help me out.”

On top of researching the difference between an Americano and a cappuccino on the Starbucks app every break she had, when Ms. Huerta started working at Latin, the kiosk was a little chaotic. The now beautifully organized kiosk is all thanks to Ms. Huerta. “When I first started working here, there was no layout [to the kiosk],” she said. “Before me, it was a mess. Nothing was organized. There was just random stuff everywhere. There was a stapler, broken paperclips, random bags, I don’t even know.”

Soon after Ms. Huerta’s first few weeks, students left for Project Week, leaving the perfect opportunity for her to reinvent the kiosk. “It was really slow, so I reorganized everything,” she said.

“I put the bags upfront so that I can bag the pastries up easier. I have the [snacks] up front so it’s easier to grab. I wanted the spoons [and cutlery] together up front, too. And my chips, they’re just there.” Because of Ms. Huerta’s efforts, the kiosk now churns out customers in record time.

When asked about a brewing rivalry between kiosks, junior Aidan Hart settled the debate as he said, “I’m very adamant about [the kiosks] actually. I definitely prefer [the kiosk] upstairs because they usually have a larger assortment of items—such as mango Vitamin Water.” And so as the school day comes to a close, Ms. Huerta usually gets home by around 6 p.m. and can sleep soundly each night knowing her kiosk reigns supreme.

So what’s next for the great coffee roaster and bagel toaster? Well, for Ms. Huerta, she has her eyes on a coffee machine to practice her master craft at home. “I do want my own espresso machine, but I don’t have one,” she said. “So I just make whatever drink I have available at my house, which is usually just iced coffee.”

As Latin charges into the second quarter full of cold winter mornings, students will surely be relying on caffeine to help them plow through. Senior Alice Mihas said, “[The kiosk] 100 percent helps me get through the day. If I didn’t have my latte or chocolate chip cookies, I don’t know what I would do!”

As winter break nears, the number of orders will only rise, but Ms. Huerta isn’t slowing down. Along with managing an influx of customers, the Starbucks app is now adding holiday drinks to its menu, so Ms. Huerta continues to study the app for new ideas. Keep an eye out and listen closely passing the kiosk, as the underground menu could be seeing its own holiday additions, too.

And as you walk away from the kiosk with your raspberry La Croix or lemon poppy seed muffin, be sure to not only wish Ms. Huerta happy holidays, but a thank you for running Latin’s kiosk.