In 2022 there’s nothing we’re looking for more than content that’s relatable. Filling this need like a latte with perfect surface tension is Portland, Oregon barista Morgan Eckroth, better known on social media as @morgandrinkscoffee. Eckroth (she/her/they/them) has captured the coffee shop experience—and the present moment in coffee—by doubling her day job as a barista at Portland’s Keeper Coffee with a career in Being Very Online.
At 23, Eckroth’s multiple social media channels include MorganDrinksCoffee on YouTube as well as @morgandrinkscoffee on both Instagram and TikTok, boasting a combined following of some 6.5 million. Her short-form videos are self-filmed cafe vignettes typically starring Morgan as both barista and customer—and poking gentle fun at both. Have you ever been inside a coffee shop, either a customer or a barista? Morgan’s videos will resonate.
We spoke with Morgan about her career as the It Barista of the social media universe.
@morgandrinkscoffee Grin and bear it #Barista ♬ failed fusion vibes – Olive Garden (not)
Sprudge: How did you decide to do this type of social media content and has it turned out how you expected?
Morgan: I started on TikTok doing short videos about my job because at the time I was a marketing student and also a barista, so pretty much all my time not at school was at my job. The videos on there—which were kind of what I do now, in a kind of rougher form, the barista sketches—started to do really well, which was kind of shocking to me. It was my first foray into video creation or anything like being a content creator, so I started doing it regularly because it was fun.
At some point in the growth on that platform I had to be like, am I going to take this… seriously? Is this a fun thing I’m doing or am I going to make this real?
We can see what you decided…
I was still in school, and I decided to turn my online growth into a school project, and I figured it was going to be a great learning experience because I wanted to do social media. So I started growing my Instagram platform doing similar content to what I was doing on TikTok, and I started growing YouTube doing new longer-form content, and suddenly all three of these platforms started doing super nicely!
I tell creators that the way to grow is to put your content WHEREVER you can. So I’ve been able to use a lot of past content and a lot of current content on Instagram to grow at a very quick rate on there which is really awesome.
How do you decide what to put on each of your channels?
I do three videos a week on TikTok, I will usually do four videos a week on Instagram, I will do three shorts on YouTube, and one long-form, like 20-minute horizontal video there too. Instagram is able to facilitate a decent amount of community. It is really great in that it has a lot of features like sharing one another’s work. Everything goes on Instagram, but I have unique content that goes up on TikTok, I have unique content that goes up on YouTube, and Instagram I like to think of as my portfolio; it’s the best of all time. The algorithm—especially with reels, they are really pushing it right now it’s really obvious. Numbers-wise it’s such a nice place to be because, though my following on Instagram is like 10% of what I have on TikTok, my Instagram numbers and analytics look 10x better on Instagram than they do on TikTok. So from a creator perspective and purely from a business side, Instagram is the place to be.
What’s been most popular?
There’s one I made called “This is a Latte Art Tutorial“, it has over 1,000,000 views on YouTube and it’s a fever dream of a latte art tutorial. There’s one that was absolutely ridiculous that got nominated for a Sprudgie called “I Tried Every Trader Joe’s Coffee Product So You Don’t Have To” and it was three hours. I did a whole series a couple years back where the premise of the series is there’s a customer who walks into the cafe and they’ve brought their own cup, but of course, it’s not a cup it’s a banana or it’s a baguette. That one did very well.
How do you balance day to day IRL coffee shop existence with being a massive internet celebrity?
I still work three to four shifts a week, so I’m at about 25 hours as a barista in a given week. When people ask what I do I say I think of being a content creator as my full-time job and being a barista as my part-time job, but they very much go hand in hand. But a lot of it is really just being a workaholic. And I also love all the things I’m doing.
I’m not ever really in the headspace of internet celebritydom, that hasn’t been a huge component of what I do, so when I clock into work it’s like “I am here to be the best barista I can be in this moment!” The online thing feels like a fun side thing I do; I’ve worked very hard to create a division between me when I’m working as a barista and me when I’m doing things online. for my sake and also for the sake of the people around me!
Pursuant to that, do most of your customers know about the accounts, and has anyone ever confronted you about thinking you were talking about them? Are any customers who watch your channels creepy to you?
No one has ever confronted me about being the subject matter, thankfully. I think my tone online is light enough and friendly enough that everyone is easily able to laugh it off. But there have been people more frequently than I think, or people who will come into the shop who have scouted out like “I’m pretty sure this is the one”—I take it as an honor to meet people and be able to make them a drink, that’s a cool combination of my two worlds. You’ve watched me make coffee online for a super long time? I would love to make you one here.
99% of the time people have been very very cool about it and frequently if anything it’s that I leave a drink on the bar and someone mumbles “Hey, I like your videos!” and runs out.
And, of course… you make money from this?
There are so many ways for creators to monetize, I don’t have any Patreon or paid content set up right now, what’s public is all there is, but the first and largest avenues are going to be sponsorships. That’s a really nice predictable consistent way to make being a content creator financially viable. So I have an agency that I’m signed with that works with me on sponsorships which is amazing. The second way is ad revenue. The third category is products, so I occasionally will do merch drops, and I’ve done a coffee collaboration with Wrecking Ball Coffee, but merchandising is the third and smallest category of everything.
And besides earning you a living, has doing this content raised your level of coffee passion?
Oh yeah, 100%. And not just enthusiasm. I think it’s really raised my level of understanding and my personal education about coffee. When I approach videos and all through my online time, I’ve tried to be very clear about the fact that I don’t think of myself as an expert in any of this. I’m still a student in any of these topics, even through competing and being a barista, there’s so much more that I want to learn. If you’ve clicked on the video I’m assuming you want to learn about this too, so let’s learn together. I’ve also received so much valuable information from encouraging people in the comments. At the end of every single video and post, I feel like I have learned so much more than I ever learned before shooting the video.
That’s great. Finally, what else do you find time for outside of coffee, if anything!?
I do a lot of writing and reading. If I’m not making content or doing work-related stuff, I’m with my nose in a book or in a Word document. I have a goal of one day publishing—I would love to write fiction one day, so that’s a project I’ve been working on for a while. I just actually finished the first draft of my first manuscript.
Wow! Thanks, Morgan, and we’ll see you online and on the bookshelves.
Photos provided by Morgan Eckroth by Summer Hughes.
Liz Clayton is the associate editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Liz Clayton on Sprudge.