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Espresso on Ice is Not Okay
July 14, 2008 11:47 AM   Subscribe

He wanted his espresso iced, but the coffee shop wouldn't let him. "Hey man. What you're about to do … that’s really, really Not Okay."

Also see the tip he left.
posted by brownpau (339 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
I guess he didn't read the EULA
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:51 AM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Summary: "I got really mad after being chastised at a coffee shop, so instead of taking my business elsewhere, I bought a second cup of coffee from them and gave them a 30% tip."

I love the blogosphere.
posted by jrockway at 11:51 AM on July 14, 2008 [19 favorites]


He should share his story on White Whine.
posted by chunking express at 11:52 AM on July 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


Nothing like sticking it to the man by giving them more and more money. That'll show them.
posted by Stynxno at 11:52 AM on July 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's nice to be reminded of Five Easy Pieces, though. The movie is a bit of a mess, but Nicholson is just great in it.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:54 AM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Which part of this story are we supposed to be snarky about? The righteous jerk, or the righteous barista(s)?
posted by ninjew at 11:54 AM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Christ, what assholes.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:54 AM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


At last, a story in which I can hate everybody.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:55 AM on July 14, 2008 [108 favorites]


I'm confused by this story. So first they don't put espresso over ice and then they did and when they did he liked it and appreciated the employee's work who did it and then put a tip in the tip jar with an insult on it and I just spent like a minute and a half reading about this inanity and typing out a question about it?
posted by ND¢ at 11:55 AM on July 14, 2008 [9 favorites]


Which part of this story are we supposed to be snarky about? The righteous jerk, or the righteous barista(s)?

With ome stories, it's ok to hate all sides. Like a Seinfeld episode or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:55 AM on July 14, 2008


FROM MY TABLE IN BOOTH #3, I STAB AT THEE! (PS: Can I get a refill?)
posted by DU at 11:55 AM on July 14, 2008 [34 favorites]


Customer doesn't get his way, gets mad, then gets his way, refusing ever to return?
Customer returns an hour later, gets his way, leaving a rude note for the previous experience?
Customer then blogs about it, including a mock-up of rude note like some sort of trophy?

Fuck the customer right in his ear.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:57 AM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


See, this is why I drink tea.
posted by echo target at 11:58 AM on July 14, 2008 [12 favorites]


Share and enjoy.™
posted by fleetmouse at 11:59 AM on July 14, 2008 [9 favorites]


Had there been a colon after the word "tip jar," I would have assumed that he actually did write that on his tip. Since it's a period, I think that the photo might be just something he thought up later to accompany the blog post.

I'd write more, but I've used up my time allotment for thinking about this story.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:01 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Outrage!

Aimed at people who may or may not deserve it over issues that definitely do not merit it.

Nevertheless, OUTRAGE!

Righteous! Pure! Absolute!

OUTRAGE!
posted by oddman at 12:01 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Also, it's a good think that this guy is not gamma-irradiated.
posted by oddman at 12:02 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh. I hadn't looked at the Flickr link before I typed that.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:02 PM on July 14, 2008


Which part of this story are we supposed to be snarky about? The righteous jerk, or the righteous barista(s)?

The barista might just be doing their job, but dude definitely imagines himself to be Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces.

Also, I'm drinking an iced Americano right now. Take that, uh, somebody.
posted by box at 12:03 PM on July 14, 2008


Ttt-thatttt's fuh-f-f-fff-fucking insuh-suh-suh-crazy! P-p-puh-p-puh-folks and their cuh-cuh-cuh-coffee!
[*BLOOP* TIME TO SWITCH TO DECAF, MR. B.]
Much to my dismay, Grill in Tucson won't put cheese on my tots. After much argumentation, they admitted similar reasoning to the barista in this article: their concern is the integrity of the tots. Also, bacon adds flavor.
posted by carsonb at 12:03 PM on July 14, 2008


Very Meta.
posted by studentbaker at 12:04 PM on July 14, 2008 [10 favorites]


This is bizarre.

First, they get pissy with him for putting his espresso on ice.

Then, they serve him a drink which involves putting espresso on ice.

Then, he writes a hate note on his tip (passive-agressive, much?)

To sum up: The whole thing makes me glad I don't drink coffee. I prefer drinks without integrity.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:05 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


He jumped up on the table and shouted, "Anarchy!"
posted by amro at 12:05 PM on July 14, 2008 [23 favorites]


Two annoying people annoy each other. Film at 11.
posted by mullingitover at 12:06 PM on July 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


For what it's worth, that's my blog. I wrote that. And it's pretty much a tempest in a coffee cup -- infuriating at the time, but not such a big deal the next day. I milked it for a quick, disposable blog post and got over it a few hours before MeFi (and now BoingBoing) picked it up.

I can totally admit that I behaved like an utter dick in the situation and made a bigger deal out of it than I should have on my blog. But is this really bigger than all that? I don't really think so.
posted by chinese_fashion at 12:07 PM on July 14, 2008 [27 favorites]


Funny thing, studentbaker, I found the link to the Murky incident because I write for WeLoveDC, but Jeff is also in my feeds, so it popped up when I checked my feedreader later, at which point I thought it was funny enough to post here.

(Honestly, if I'd known Boingboing had posted the same thing four hours earlier I would have refrained, because now this just makes me look like a re-boinger.)
posted by brownpau at 12:07 PM on July 14, 2008


The comparison to Five Easy Pieces is lame. The waitresses attitude aside, the situation Nicholson's character finds himself in is that the restaurant's reluctance to serve him toast and coffee, despite his offer to actually pay extra for the service (give me the sandwich, hold the chicken salad).

This coffee shop apparently gave him exactly what he wanted. Plus 'tude. But he did get what he wanted, yes?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:07 PM on July 14, 2008


For some reason, I read this as "in his right ear". And I laughed and laughed.
posted by Space Kitty at 12:07 PM on July 14, 2008


In other news, restaurant outrages Area Man by refusing to serve ketchup with his filet mignon. Tuff titteh, world's smallest violin, etc.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:07 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh wait. Time zones.
posted by brownpau at 12:08 PM on July 14, 2008


He should share his story on White Whine.

That may be the best blog I've seen in a while. A lot of it sounds like it came off of MeFi.
posted by jonmc at 12:11 PM on July 14, 2008


You see, the thing is that there are coffee fascists, very often in locally-owned shops. But fascists tend to make pretty good espresso.
posted by mikeh at 12:12 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Can someone please explain to me how adding water to espresso, and then pouring that over ice, preserves the crema in a way that pouring straight espresso over ice does not?

Give me a break. It all goes into the cup. It all turns to water. They're being pretentious plonkers.
posted by bink at 12:13 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


What's wrong with putting espresso over ice? I like having two shots over ice. Tastes 'nummy.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:14 PM on July 14, 2008


I'm just gonna round up all the coffee snobs and lock them in a Dunkin' Donuts.
posted by jonmc at 12:14 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is such a highly charged issue that I have decided to withhold comment until I see a YouTube of Jack Nicholson portraying Keith Olbermann's take.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:15 PM on July 14, 2008


Huh... Apparently some fuckwits *do* get their own blog!
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:16 PM on July 14, 2008


See also. Coffee's integrity is too delicate a matter to be left to the coffee drinkers, apparently.
posted by Bummus at 12:17 PM on July 14, 2008


@brownpau Yeah, I got that link from the comments of the site you linked. Now, it would be really cool if the barista went home and ranted on his blog about the "asshole" customer he had to deal with and we could find that link.
posted by studentbaker at 12:19 PM on July 14, 2008


The somewhat petulant and petty author of this article does manage to make an interesting point about the nature of incidents like this:
But mankind hasn’t evolved, physically, in thousands and thousands of years. Biologically, we are the same barefoot creatures that hunted woolly mammoths with spears and competed with cheetahs for meat on the African savannah. That’s the source of most customer rage right there: a creature with a fight-or-fight reflex that’s 250,000 years old confronted with some ridiculous, arbitrary bullshit.
For a little while now, this idea has been the core of my (uninformed, intuitive, and probably unoriginal) pet theory on the source of large-scale human conflict. I don't think we can ever know if it's true, but it is a wonderful sink for the feelings of malice and frustration that arise in daily interaction with other people. When something goes wrong and I start to feel my blood boil, I stop and tell myself that, like everyone else in the world, like me!, Current Malefactor X belongs to a species that hasn't been doing this civilization thing for long enough to be good at it. That's our lot.

Soon enough, the anger is gone, because what can any of us imperfect creatures do but work with what we've got?
posted by invitapriore at 12:23 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


The comparison to Five Easy Pieces is lame.

This is what I immediately thought of after reading the piece.
posted by bonehead at 12:23 PM on July 14, 2008


I don't know if any of you watch Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay (BBC), but in one episode he was trying to make the point of good ingredients standing on their own. To make his point, he tried to order a single malt scotch with soda from the bartender at the restaurant. The bartender smartly refused, because you don't ruin a good scotch by mixing it with soda. Now, it may piss off the customer, but you're not being a good bartender by letting someone order a $20 scotch and soda (I used to bartend - full disclosure: I also used to be a barista).

Obviously, espresso of this calibre probably isn't akin to single malt scotch, but there is some precedent. I do like iced coffee and espresso drinks iced (like a latte), but straight espresso over ice sounds pretty heinous, and if I were the barista, I'd probably mention it's not recommended. But it's your coffee, and this isn't Glenmorangie 18 year, so I'd serve it to you and let you "enjoy" it ...
posted by krinklyfig at 12:24 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


So at what point did you two strip to the waist and furiously make out?
posted by The Straightener at 12:25 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


This story sounds par for the course for the way caffeine addicts behave in general, all of the time.
posted by sciurus at 12:26 PM on July 14, 2008


He could've just bought one of those Doubleshots cans.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:28 PM on July 14, 2008


sciurius: I am a confirmed caffeine addict (3 large coffees every day) and I'll happily drink a Dunkin' Donuts large. This sounds more like simple yuppie silliness.
posted by jonmc at 12:29 PM on July 14, 2008


Any store can spend precious amounts of time, wasted or not, preparing a customer experience that in their mind will not be forgotten, policy included on the to-do list.

Any policy that does not consider any type of customer is pretty much flawed, for amidst all that preparation time, NO time should EVER be wasted in trying to make a customer happy based on a flawed policy. Instead, given the opportunity to help one more customer walk out happy, NO time should EVER be wasted NOT doing ANYTHING to help that customer out, doing what the customer demands, within reason and sacrificing trivial policy knots (in other words, those policies which if violated, would not necessarily get you fired).

Currently working in retail, reading this story just makes me sick, especially when the local cafe offers iced espresso.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 12:29 PM on July 14, 2008


bink writes "Can someone please explain to me how adding water to espresso, and then pouring that over ice, preserves the crema in a way that pouring straight espresso over ice does not?"

Have you ever been a barista? It's not quite as simple as it looks. Lots of factors play into the flavor of the coffee. Once you ice it, especially if you pour the coffee over ice, the oils separate a bit from the water and it becomes bitter. Espresso is not really supposed to be bitter, at least not in the way stale or burnt coffee gets bitter. The best way to ice coffee is to brew it cold, not hot, which greatly reduces bitterness but takes a lot longer with special filters.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:31 PM on July 14, 2008


jonmc writes "sciurius: I am a confirmed caffeine addict (3 large coffees every day) and I'll happily drink a Dunkin' Donuts large. This sounds more like simple yuppie silliness."

Well, I've heard lots of people claim PBR or Bud was good beer, but back when I drank, it tasted like horse piss. Now, I wouldn't turn down a beer in those days, but Bud ain't Arrogant Bastard Ale, and Cheez-Whiz ain't Camambert, and no class-based defenses of cheese-in-a-can will make that be true.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:34 PM on July 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


Damn, you're really getting the business, huh chinese_fashion? Remember nobody on metafilter has never experienced irritation over a possibly trivial thing and then spoke in an excited manner about it.

keep your head up.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:36 PM on July 14, 2008 [17 favorites]


I'm just gonna round up all the coffee snobs and lock them in a Dunkin' Donuts.

That will break them! That may be considered a form of torture though, so you should check on that first. Don't want to see you wind up in The Hague on trial.
posted by a3matrix at 12:37 PM on July 14, 2008


The bartender smartly refused, because you don't ruin a good scotch by mixing it with soda. Now, it may piss off the customer, but you're not being a good bartender by letting someone order a $20 scotch and soda

This attitude baffles me. The job of a bartender (or barista, etc.) is to provide me with what I asked for, if it is available and I am willing to pay. The job of a bartender is not to provide the experience that he thinks is "best," even if everyone in the world except the customer agrees with him. Maybe you want to double check, or even suggest that it will be better without the soda, but if I want a single malt scotch and soda why shouldn't I be able to get that? There's no point to that, except to make people feel superior for drinking things the "right" way. Which, of course, is why these policies exist in the first place.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:37 PM on July 14, 2008 [31 favorites]


But mankind hasn’t evolved, physically, in thousands and thousands of years. Biologically, we are the same barefoot creatures that hunted woolly mammoths with spears and competed with cheetahs for meat on the African savannah. That’s the source of most customer rage right there: a creature with a fight-or-fight reflex that’s 250,000 years old confronted with some ridiculous, arbitrary bullshit.

I don't think I need to get out my anthropologist hat to point out how full of hyperbolic bullshit this statement is. There's almost nothing correct about it, to the point where it's basically meaningless prose.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:41 PM on July 14, 2008


Well, I've heard lots of people claim PBR or Bud was good beer, but back when I drank, it tasted like horse piss. Now, I wouldn't turn down a beer in those days, but Bud ain't Arrogant Bastard Ale, and Cheez-Whiz ain't Camambert, and no class-based defenses of cheese-in-a-can will make that be true.

krinklyfig, the point isn't equating the two. Obviously Bud isn't Lord Fizzlebottom's Numbnuts Lager brewed only by certified One-Eyed Gypsy Monks, but it's nice on a hot day.

The whiny white yuppie factor comes in when people act like it's the end of the world when they can't get exactly what the want all the time, especially over stuff like coffee and beer, which (a lot of the time) are simply about waking up and buzz anyway.
posted by jonmc at 12:42 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


People are always trying to tell you how best to do your drugs. Really, any recommendation other than 'cook it down and bang it up' is one based on personal proclivity rather than efficiency, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna let someone else's preference get in the way of my decision for a specific type altered consciousness.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 12:42 PM on July 14, 2008 [13 favorites]


Shit. How likely is that two bloggers would independently write about the same event, one from the point of view of participating in it, the other from the point of view of viewing it; one of the blog posts gets posted to MeFi, and it turns out that blogger is himself a member of MeFi?

Of course, the event did involve over-priced coffee, so that probably shrunk the pool of possible participants.
posted by yhbc at 12:43 PM on July 14, 2008 [9 favorites]


Like Steve Irwin stalking a crocodile, this scenario loses much of its mystique when you deconstruct the whole piece and realize that there's a cameraman sitting on top of the animal already.

Either the author carefully reproduced the frenzied message on the dollar bill after the fact just for the blog, or he took a picture of it in the café before leaving it. Either way, the self-consciousness of the rage renders it rather pathetic.
posted by CaseyB at 12:43 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


I happen to have a personal policy that prohibits me from indulging stupid bullshit like this...

I am going to have to use that sometime.
posted by callmejay at 12:44 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


That came out nastier than I wanted. Yes, it's nice to have top of the line stuff like Irving Place coffee and microbrew beer and fine cheeses. I've enjoyed them myself numerous times, but for me and for a lot of people, getting them all the time is not an option. And people who act like having Dunkin' Donuts coffee or Budweiser or Cracker Barrell cheddar is the end of the world are kind of insufferable.
posted by jonmc at 12:45 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


If things like this amuse you you should check out coffeegeek.com. This sort of thing ("I refuse to ruin my product by pouring it over ice") is mild for these folk. No doubt they would start debating how the ice was made, the ratio of ice to coffee, and what varieties might work best for such a beverage.
posted by Ragma at 12:47 PM on July 14, 2008


Sounds to me like the barista was a bit of a dick. Suggest to the customer if you like that the icing may spoil the drink but to say "we're you're about to do is really not OK" is simply ridiculous. If I like my coffee with mustard in it I should be allowed to put mustard in it without getting shit from the staff.
posted by gfrobe at 12:47 PM on July 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


What a weird policy. This sort of thing is fairly common with regular coffee, because putting regular brewed coffee (especially hot) over ice actually does dilute the hell out of it and make it taste like nothing much. So then the customer goes and tells everyone "their coffee sucks." Not good. Places that put iced coffee on the menu generally brew a double-strength batch and refrigerate it so you get good iced coffee.

However, espresso is strong already. Plenty strong enough that icing it down will not dilute it past, say, regular iced coffee strength.

So, my professional* opinion is, the coffee-shop guys were being douches.

Especially when they happily made an "Americano," which is the most ridiculously douchified drink routinely offered on coffee shop menus (and that's saying something). All the water necessary for coffee has already been used in the brewing process.

I mean, just look at the name! "Americano?" This drink is clearly a joke that European coffee purveyors invented so that their customers could laugh at how retarded Americans are, and how bad our coffee is, and we're too stupid to even get it. I guess I'm just relieved that they didn't tell us the recipe involves taking three shots of espresso and pissing in them.

----------

* Not professional
posted by rusty at 12:48 PM on July 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


No doubt they would start debating how the ice was made

They probably use only genuine glacial ice harvested in 30kg blocks only by cetified viking ice masons named Bjorn.

If I like my coffee with mustard in it I should be allowed to put mustard in it without getting shit from the staff.

This is where fast food places become appealing. I used to work across from a Burger King. I'd order Onion Rings and ask for a packet of ranch dressing to dip it in. They never batted an eye or even charged me extra.
posted by jonmc at 12:51 PM on July 14, 2008


Murky Coffee? Murky?
That sounds terrible.
"Yeah, uh, I'd like a coffee. And make it extra-murky."
"Sorry, sir. That's not our policy."
"Then give me a coffee and a glass of motor oil, fuckwad!"
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:51 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


If I ordered a Scotch and Soda and the bartender refused, I would ask for the manager, and I say this as a liquor snob. The point of drinking is to enjoy the flavor, and some palettes simply prefer their scotch with water, or with soda. This is a legitimate way to enjoy scotch, and has been for ages -- single malt or otherwise. I started drinking scotch by drinking it as scotch and soda, and it took a while until my palette grew accustomed enough to the taste that I started dialing down the water.

By refusing to mix scotch with water or soda (and some people who have been lifelong scotch drinkers still take it with as much as half water), the bartender runs the risk of alienating a potential lifelong scotch fan by forcing something on the customer that may not be to their tastes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:52 PM on July 14, 2008 [7 favorites]


Well, I've heard lots of people claim PBR or Bud was good beer, but back when I drank, it tasted like horse piss.

I'll thank you kindly not to impugn that fine label.

I like PBR.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:52 PM on July 14, 2008


Shit. Tag meltdown. Mods, please hope me!
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:52 PM on July 14, 2008


The example should have been one of customer service: "I'm sorry sir, we don't serve iced espresso that way. We have it pre-chilled in the fridge. Would you like to try it?" and "I'm sorry mate, instead of soda with that fine scotch, how bout a splash of water to bring out some of the more subtle flavours?". See it should always be about customer service. Educating the customer is part of that.
posted by Gungho at 12:54 PM on July 14, 2008 [8 favorites]


My profile now identifies me as a Certified Viking Ice Mason.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:56 PM on July 14, 2008


That's super, schneider.
posted by jonmc at 12:58 PM on July 14, 2008


From studentbaker's link, a commenter explains why the espresso no-ice policy is reasonable:

"Destroying the crema results in a beverage that lacks the flavor that many people (to name a few, the farmers, roasters and baristas) have worked very hard to create.”

HOW DO YOU SLEEP, CREMA DESTROYERS!!!!!!!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:00 PM on July 14, 2008 [13 favorites]


Another tale from the annals of The Coffee Achievers.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:00 PM on July 14, 2008


I love the moment where he pauses to explain how awesome his life is and how this is really all inconsequential in perspective... just long enough to replenish the oxygen before continuing on to the new subpoint of his outraged screed: such anger is in fact part of our evolutionary heritage.
posted by Tehanu at 1:02 PM on July 14, 2008


"Have you ever been a barista? It's not quite as simple as it looks. Lots of factors play into the flavor of the coffee. Once you ice it, especially if you pour the coffee over ice, the oils separate a bit from the water and it becomes bitter."

Actually in this case it *is* as simple as it looks. The guy knows what he wants. He's had it before. It's what he drinks. He likes it. What part of "he likes it" is so offensive to you? We realize you want him to not like it. But, in fact, simple as that, he likes it.
posted by Ragma at 1:02 PM on July 14, 2008 [16 favorites]


Gungho's right on the mark. The thing that makes it extra-special obnoxious is that when Jeff asked them point-blank for something with espresso and ice they had a drink and suggestion. Why didn't obnoxious barista just suggest that in the first place rather than just refusing?

Well, he didn't because he works at Murky and they specialize in this kind of attitude, but the point is he should have.
posted by phearlez at 1:03 PM on July 14, 2008


I don't understand why this is interesting enough for Metafilter or BoingBoing.

Is there something I'm missing here?
posted by lunit at 1:06 PM on July 14, 2008


This is ludicrous. The internet has now officially jumped the shark.
posted by nevercalm at 1:07 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I had a similar experience. I had a barista at a little indy coffee place sneer at me and say, "Well, I don't know why you'd want to do that to a perfectly good espresso" when I asked for double with a few cubes of ice in it. I told him "Know what? You're right. Me either. Cancel my order." and walked out. Asshole. I fumed about that for hours.

Getting your order criticized by a goateed weasel whose only tiny claim to the power that they want to abuse you with is that they Make Coffee for a living is INFURIATING. It's a luxury item. I'm paying good money for it. If I want to have a few cubes of ice in it you should let me. The person in front of me had a latte with vanilla AND caramel syrup in it. THAT's ok to do to your perfect, magnificent, platonic espresso but a couple of christing ICE CUBES are simply out of the question?

Jesus. Thanks for bringing up a bad memory.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:07 PM on July 14, 2008 [17 favorites]


Not to point a finger at chinese_fashion, but how come whenever folks are listing out their assets, as such, their mate is always "gorgeous." This makes me want independent verification--I guess it's from the same part of my brain that looks at a statement like "I drive a new BMW" as a measure of success with suspicion.*

Of course, eye of the beholder, one hopes that everyone finds their own mate gorgeous, etc., etc. But, still, stressing the physical perfection of your mate as one of your assets is a bit squicky, isn't it?

And you can put me down, just very slightly, on the coffee guy's side. I like it when people care about what they sell, though I prefer they just say "no" rather than being passive-aggressive about it.

* I mean, leasing makes that fairly easy, if that's an important goal in your life. You can live in your Mom's basement and work at Hardees and lease a new BMW.
posted by maxwelton at 1:08 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Christ could die (again) and you people would spend less time talking about it...
posted by HuronBob at 1:08 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


"**Followup**
This whole thing’s blown up pretty big over the few hours — linked on Metafilter and BoingBoing — and it’s a little embarrassing. I mean, I can freely admit that I acted like a total dick here. But it’s not like I didn’t have probable cause. This is a tiny little thing that happened and made for a funny story, but I mean, c’mon, there are wars and genocides happening. I’m making a big deal out of it on this blog, but overall, not such a bad thing."
posted by ericb at 1:09 PM on July 14, 2008


If I could favorite Bulgaroktonos' post more than once, I would.

because you don't ruin a good scotch by mixing it with soda. Now, it may piss off the customer, but you're not being a good bartender by letting someone order a $20 scotch and soda

Don't be so precious and patronizing.

Being a good bartender means you serve your customers what they ordered, and you don't give them crap about it.

Same for baristas.

Now get off my lawn.
posted by kcds at 1:09 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Overthinking a cup of espresso.
posted by ericb at 1:10 PM on July 14, 2008


Though there is some truth to the whole diluting the product story, I think the real reason caffes tend to have policies against iced espresso is to stop cheapskates from taking it to the cream/milk station and making their own ghetto iced lattes.
posted by mannequito at 1:10 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


This attitude baffles me. The job of a bartender (or barista, etc.) is to provide me with what I asked for, if it is available and I am willing to pay.
Most of the best pubs I've drunk in had miserable bastard landlords (some famous for it) who would chuck you out on a whim, let alone for sullying their ales. I like it that way too; customer always right can make for a blander general experience.
posted by Abiezer at 1:11 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


these beans, they are in a cup, instead of on a plate?
posted by felix at 1:12 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


I've said this before, but coffee is a foul bean anyway, and anything that destroys its bitter, hateful flavor is okay in my book. I assume the only reason people drink it is because it's too early in the day for alcohol, they're too snobby for soda pop, and they are bored by the idea of water. I suspect there might be an element of masochism involved as well, although I don't know how you would choose a safe-word to let your coffee know that it has started to hurt you too much.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:12 PM on July 14, 2008 [20 favorites]


Overthinking a cup of espresso.

which started out as a bag of beans. Coincidence? I Think Not!
posted by jonmc at 1:12 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


The posted link is full of great comments. It's amazing how many people showed up to comment that they witnessed the event (as well as linked their own pics of the signs and dollar bill posted on a bulletin board. Nice post brownpau!
posted by samsara at 1:13 PM on July 14, 2008


nevercalm: The internet has now officially jumped the shark.

A few years too late. It done jumped the shark when tools started talking about 15-year old inventions as "Web 2.0." Now, the shark is towing a pyramid of bathing beauties wearing the American flag. All that's left is the cheap fireworks and the Sousa march.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:16 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


To all the people who are sneering at the "coffee addicts" behavior ... you're as bad as the barrista. So, if it's not the caffeine, what's your excuse?
posted by Dave Faris at 1:17 PM on July 14, 2008


Most of the best pubs I've drunk in had miserable bastard landlords (some famous for it) who would chuck you out on a whim, let alone for sullying their ales. I like it that way too; customer always right can make for a blander general experience.


See, I would have said preventing people from enjoying the experience of their choice, even when that experience is unusual or frowned upon, was the blander option.

I also really detest the glorification of being an asshole that you get in so many dining/drinking experiences. There's plenty of restaurants that base their identity on being rude to their customers and for some reason this is consider trendy or "quirky" or something. There's nothing wrong with being polite to your customers or just not treating them badly. There's nothing about being an asshole that makes your bar or coffee shop more enjoyable or more interesting.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:23 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


No, this is Super Schneider.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:23 PM on July 14, 2008


93 comments, and not one with the words "Tempest in a coffee cup?"
posted by you just lost the game at 1:25 PM on July 14, 2008


No. THIS is Super Schneider.
posted by jonmc at 1:26 PM on July 14, 2008


I've been waiting for an "I like my coffee like I like my women" joke.
posted by studentbaker at 1:27 PM on July 14, 2008


No. We like our women like we like our scotch: 18 years old and mixed up with coke.
posted by jonmc at 1:29 PM on July 14, 2008 [41 favorites]


For what it's worth all this "you need to take your X a certain way" stuff irks the hell out of me, too. I don't think I'd put any messages on dollars, though.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:30 PM on July 14, 2008


although I don't know how you would choose a safe-word to let your coffee know that it has started to hurt you too much.

Ice!!! Ice!!!

I'll put ice in anything I please, thanks. I can't properly taste what's served too hot to drink, can I?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:33 PM on July 14, 2008


kcds writes "Being a good bartender means you serve your customers what they ordered, and you don't give them crap about it."

Really? When was the last time you served a single malt scotch with soda to a customer?

What? You aren't a bartender? That's surprising.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:34 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Man, don't fuck with people and their coffee. That way lies danger.

In the morning I pour it in my husband's mug, push it into our room with the end of a broom handle, and then clear out until the caffeine hits his system. He, in return, does not speak to me or look me in the eye until I've had at least two cups of the stuff.

I think baristas should be protected behind shatter proof glass and forced to pass the cups through a cut out by the register. FOR THEIR SAFETY. I mean, really.
posted by FunkyHelix at 1:34 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


this isn't Glenmorangie 18 year

Exactly why this policy is ridiculous. This isn't a product which took years to create. It's not a steak that's been dry aged for a month in a specially monitored process. It's not toro tartare with Sterling Royal caviar prepared by a master sushi chef who spent a decade in training. It's not even a cut of lamb that took 56 kcal of energy to produce for every single kcal of food value.

However wed a barista may be to his or her craft, a shot of espresso is an instantly consumable item, in two swallows, even. Perhaps it ought to be savored, but mainstream coffee consumers aren't looking for a coffee experience. And caffeine junkies are merely looking for bang for their buck. Getting all precious about it is ridiculous. Coffee places and baristas really need to accept that despite their work and pretensions, the four shot espresso over ice is, to the consumer buying it, much much closer in meaning to a super size Coke than it will ever be to than Glenmorangie. Ever.
posted by Dreama at 1:34 PM on July 14, 2008 [8 favorites]


They should just have charged him more. Like my local coffee shop, where a cappuccino is £2.50, but a latte is £7.90

I stop and tell myself that, like everyone else in the world, like me!, Current Malefactor X belongs to a species that hasn't been doing this civilization thing for long enough to be good at it. That's our lot.
I often think this about online chatting. There could reasonably be thousands of people reading this thread. How many of the people sitting here going "hey fuck you, guy, you're a retard" could get it up to have an impromptu squabble on stage in front of the same number of people?

We just haven't evolved enough for this internet shit yet.
posted by bonaldi at 1:34 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Eh, I was at a bagel place not that long ago, picking up a quick bagel for my wife while the kids were in dance class.

I ordered a single egg bagel with a bit of lox and cream cheese. The bagel was around a dollar, and the cream cheese another dollar, but they didn't have bagel+cream cheese+lox on the board. I figured, how much more could it be?

Almost $8, that's how much. I was floored, but figured, eh, no biggie. But the more I waited for it to be served, the more ridiculous it seemed. The guy in front of me had the same thought with his lox+cream cheese+bagel, and before I could, he complained about his.

After much back and forth, they agreed they'd made a mistake and refunded some of his money, I couldn't see how much, but he didn't seem thrilled. So I asked about mine. After some bickering, they agreed they'd charged me too much, and gave me a refund.

Of a couple coins in change. Less than a dollar. So the combo was still more than $7. By then, I'd gotten the bagel, and there was barely any lox on it. I said, wow, that's ridiculous, I'm never coming back here again.

And I haven't; we've walked by that restaurant for several weeks since, on our way to the salad place where they guy turned down my offer to pay for extra chicken done a different way, after my kids were finicky about the way I ordered it. Heck, since then I went into the salad place in 100-degree heat when their air conditioning was broken, just to buy several drinks, because I knew their business would be crappy that day.

And that is how you deal with overpriced food and bad service; you stop going to those establishments, and you spend your money -- and sometimes more than you need to -- to support the businesses that believe in customer service.
posted by davejay at 1:34 PM on July 14, 2008 [7 favorites]


93 comments, and not one with the words "Tempest in a coffee cup?"
posted by you just lost the game at 1:25 PM on July 14 [+] [!]


For what it's worth, that's my blog. I wrote that. And it's pretty much a tempest in a coffee cup -- infuriating at the time, but not such a big deal the next day. I milked it for a quick, disposable blog post and got over it a few hours before MeFi (and now BoingBoing) picked it up.

I can totally admit that I behaved like an utter dick in the situation and made a bigger deal out of it than I should have on my blog. But is this really bigger than all that? I don't really think so.
posted by chinese_fashion at 12:07 PM on July 14 [3 favorites +] [!]


From the author of the blog post, no less.
posted by proj at 1:35 PM on July 14, 2008


adamdschneider writes "I like PBR."

I do, too, or I did. But I never put on airs like it was good beer. People who do that, or who try too hard to be hipsters, have caused the price to skyrocket in some bars, which is beyond silly, at least to the patrons.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:36 PM on July 14, 2008


mannequito has it. Most of the people who want espresso on ice are just going to dump a bunch of milk in it at that condiment station to make an iced latte at half the price.
posted by peeedro at 1:36 PM on July 14, 2008


> To make his point, he tried to order a single malt scotch with soda from the bartender at the restaurant. The bartender smartly refused...

I got married last May at a place where the bar features a number of fine whiskies. I didn't witness the event in question, but one of the guests told me afterwards that he was in line for a drink behind another guest who asked for a particular whisky on the rocks (I don't know which one). "No," he was told. "What do you mean?" he asked the bartender, who replied; "You can have the whiskey, or you can have the ice, but you can't have them both."
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:37 PM on July 14, 2008


Been reading lots of Dorothy Sayers lately. I can hear the discussion in my head, from London ca. 1923.

C: Good morning. Espresso on ice, if you please.
B: [shocked silence]
B: Sir must be mistaken. Espresso is never served on ice.
C: Nevertheless, that is what I wish.
B: Sir, it is an affront to the bean. It must be hot, and justly so.
C: See here -- James, is it? See here, James. I know what I want.
B: Sir, it is an affront to this establishment! We have a reputation to uphold!
C: The only reputation I perceive at this time is a tendency towards argumentativeness and a reluctance to provide service.
B: Sir, I cannot! I simply cannot! We are famous here for our coffee, and what you ask, it is repellant to the extreme! You must take it hot, or not at all.
C: I don't wish to argue w---
B: Sir can see the door behind him, yes?
C: Yes, but dammit, man all I want --
B: Sir will please pass through it. Good day, sir.
C: Wait! My espresso --
B: Will not be served here! Good day and good-bye, sir!
C: [exeunt, followed by a dirty dishcloth]
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:38 PM on July 14, 2008 [39 favorites]


Dreama writes "Getting all precious about it is ridiculous. Coffee places and baristas really need to accept that despite their work and pretensions, the four shot espresso over ice is, to the consumer buying it, much much closer in meaning to a super size Coke than it will ever be to than Glenmorangie. Ever."

That quad will cost you at least $6 in most places, however.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:38 PM on July 14, 2008


"We were watching you on the monitors in the kitchen. And we all thought you were a dick."
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:38 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


This one time, when I was maybe twelve or so, I ordered a peanut-butter-cup ice cream sundae with mint chip ice cream. The young lady behind the counter looked down at me in disbelief. "Peanut butter sauce... with mint ice cream? Are you sure?"

I was confused, because I didn't see anything wrong with that. "Yes?"

"Really? Not vanilla or chocolate or something?"

"Uh... no?"

"Okay, then."

And then she made me the sundae I'd requested. And I ate it. It was great! That's not a very dramatic story, but man, I definitely enjoyed that sundae.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:40 PM on July 14, 2008 [19 favorites]


I was struck by the same thing as CaseyB. He took a picture of the note he wrote on the bill. So either that part is fake and he dreamed it up later, or he was sitting there thinking about how he was going to blog this affront to all that is good and just in the universe, and that these fascist baristas (which would make a great band name) were going to to get pilloried on his page later.

I also like the idea that the clerk might have issued some vague, thinly veiled threat: "So I mean, you’re going to do what you’re going to do, and I can’t stop you, but..."

That "but..." is just the embodiment of menace;

"but, if you put that drink on ice, I'll come across this counter and beat you to death with a broomstick"

"but, keep going the way you are going and I'm going to call the cops and tell them that you were sexually assaulting a dog in the middle of the store"

"but, you should know that I had my dick in this coffee less than an hour ago. Enjoy,"

posted by quin at 1:42 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


jonmc writes "The whiny white yuppie factor comes in when people act like it's the end of the world when they can't get exactly what the want all the time, especially over stuff like coffee and beer, which (a lot of the time) are simply about waking up and buzz anyway."

I agree with that, and I say that as a former bartender and barista and current caffeine addict.

If someone were to order a rookie drink (such as a single malt with soda, a blender drink or a triple-anything and you're under 25), then I usually wouldn't refuse them but invite the regulars to have a chuckle. Amateurs are OK, but they shouldn't be encouraged to act like amateurs.

Then again, certain places are aiming for a particular clientele. Sure, give the customer what they want, as long as it's what the place serves - not all dive bars will have old scotch and not all hoity toity bars will have PBR, and not every restaurant will be able to make a hamburger.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:46 PM on July 14, 2008


I'm with the blogger on this one. I can't stand poor customer service and have gone off the deep end a couple times in the past when treated poorly. You regret it later, but sometimes, in the heat of the moment, it drives you a bit nuts. Here's my most ridiculous experience:

Once, I was seeing a movie at the Paramount Theatre in Toronto when the film broke in half and they said it would take 45 minutes to repair. This was the second time in two days it had happened--I was there that day because they fucked it up the day before and I wanted to see the rest of the movie. Fed up, I went and asked for my money back. They refused to refund it and instead were offering me a coupon. I explained that I didn't plan on ever returning to that theatre again as they clearly didn't know what they were doing and so I wanted my money instead. No dice.

So, for revenge, I started telling everyone in line that the film was continually breaking and that they shouldn't buy a ticket, which was true. I was walking out, telling everyone in line what was happening, and those people were turning and walking as well. One of the managers comes up to me and tells me to stop lying to his customers and I tell him I'm not and he knows I'm right but doesn't want to say that I am. So... instead of giving me back my $12 and sending me on my way.... he, and 3 other managers, block the doors and forbid me from leaving. "Until the police have arrived." I asked what they were talking about and then, out of nowhere, one of them tells me that they're going to press charges. "For what?" "You assaulted one of our employees." I of course had done no such thing.

Police arrive and hear both sides of the story and side with me as there were no witnesses except employees even though the theatre was crawling with people.

At home, I was pretty steamed about the whole thing. I emailed the local papers and the head office of the theatre as well as the film's distributor. The Toronto Star called me within an hour for the story and mentioned it in the paper the following day. Never heard jackshit back from the theatre people or the distros.

The story runs in the Star and still I hear nothing until the phone rings and ... it's the theatre's competitor: AMC. They'd just opened a new location and were going to be screening the same film. "Would you and a dozen of your friends like to be our guests the day it opens up?" Now that's some fucking customer service. Unfortunately, that theatre was in the middle of nowhere (erm, Scarboro) so I had to decline but fucking hell if I've ever been back to the Paramount almost 10 years later.
posted by dobbs at 1:49 PM on July 14, 2008 [10 favorites]


I bet this all turns out to be viral marketing for Folgers Crystals.
posted by studentbaker at 1:49 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this is what happens when an irresistable force meets an immovable object, coffee-prick version.
posted by not_on_display at 1:50 PM on July 14, 2008


Surely asking for ice with your espresso is not as criminal, not as philistine an act as asking for spaghetti with your risotto.
posted by Killick at 1:50 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Surely asking for ice with your espresso is not as criminal, not as philistine an act as asking for spaghetti with your risotto .

In fairness, in that case, they are both strarches.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:51 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, which side am I supposed to be on? I hate them both.
posted by wannaknow at 1:51 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd say it again, but I think I have made my point.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:51 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is why coffee should be outlawed, and everyone who drinks it should be punched in the face.

"Maybe condescending service from a patronizing millenial..."

Seriously? You got your coffee from a six-year-old? Did he have a stand with a sign that read "STARBUCKS" but with a backwards R? Because if you're buying from kids who were just born this millennium, you deserve the service you get. Unless you're using the Jewish calendar. But then, really, the same applies.
posted by Eideteker at 1:53 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Was their "What Can We Ice?" sign up before all this started?
posted by kirkaracha at 1:53 PM on July 14, 2008


When I lived in Paris, this one crêpe-cart guy in St-Germain-des-Prés wouldn't let me take home my crêpe and eat it five minutes away. I had to consume it immediately -or at least nearby- while it was warm. He was stern, and French, and I obeyed.
posted by yeti at 1:56 PM on July 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


There is a high level of bullshit in this whole purity of the drink concept. The icebox is just as venerable as the steam-piston espresso machine, and was considerably more popular. People have been pouring moka over ice for at least that long. There are certainly valid positions on which to be a food snob, making a big deal over this is just posturing.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:00 PM on July 14, 2008


maxwellton, who's gonna brag about their ugly SO, must less describe them that way? Especially on the internet that never forgets.

This is my horrifically unattractive SO, with a heart of gold, so I don't mind..uh hi honey, we were just talking about how much I love your personality instead of your figure, OW, walks away holding family jewels.
posted by nomisxid at 2:01 PM on July 14, 2008


I guess I understand the barista to a certain extent. If I were a bartender, and someone were to ask for a vodka martini without vermouth, I would set fire to them and fling poisonous monkeys after them as they fled the building, burning but still thirsty.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:01 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


AstroZombie, I hate the taste of Vermouth, so I'd simply order a big glass of vodka.

(actually, I'm not big on vodka, so I'd probably just order a Jameson neat)
posted by jonmc at 2:03 PM on July 14, 2008


No man who drinks Jameson can ever be a true enemy of mine.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:05 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Maybe condescending service from a patronizing millenial..."

Seriously? You got your coffee from a six-year-old? Did he have a stand with a sign that read "STARBUCKS" but with a backwards R? Because if you're buying from kids who were just born this millennium, you deserve the service you get.


Generation Y (sometimes referred to as "Millennials" or "Echo Boomers") refers to a specific cohort of individuals born, roughly, between 1980-94[1]. There is not yet a definitive name for this demographic of people.[2] "Generation Y" alludes to a succession from Generation X, a term which was made popular by the Canadian fiction writer Douglas Coupland in 1991.[3]
posted by phearlez at 2:06 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Waiter: I am the waiter sir.
Hudson Hawk: Oh. Very nice. Fettucini con fungi porcinni. Prego. Oh, and bring me a bottle of ketchup, will ya?
Anna: You heard him.
Waiter: Ketchup! Ketchup! Stupid Americanos always ketchup...
posted by brownpau at 2:10 PM on July 14, 2008


Espresso over icecream can be quite nice.
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on July 14, 2008


Maybe condescending service from a patronizing millenial at a DC coffee shop isn’t news to anyone else. But the only way I’m ever coming back to Murky Coffee in Arlington

Arlington is NOT D.C. Let's be very, very clear about this.

also, people should read upthread that the poster of the item is a MeFite who is watching this thread before dishing out words like "petulant" and "bullshit."
posted by Ironmouth at 2:16 PM on July 14, 2008


I think you're under the mistaken impression that MeFites are more genteel in the way they speak to each other than the way they speak about stranger.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:19 PM on July 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


If I were a bartender, and someone were to ask for a vodka martini without vermouth...

Objecting to the choice of beverage or calling it a "martini"? If the latter, what would you suggest calling vodka shaken with ice and served straight?
posted by Perplexity at 2:20 PM on July 14, 2008


A shot of vodka.

If mixed with vermouth, a Kangaroo.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:22 PM on July 14, 2008


You could a leasyt give ‘em a fancy glass and an olive.
posted by Artw at 2:28 PM on July 14, 2008


Ironmouth -- thanks for looking out for me, there, I sincerely appreciate it. I'm perfectly capable of being a petulant bullshitter, though. Most people are. It's a human, and hopefully temporary condition.

And you're right. Arlington's not DC. It's much worse.
posted by chinese_fashion at 2:29 PM on July 14, 2008


This post and its comments are great! What'd you do?
posted by xod at 2:36 PM on July 14, 2008


I'd like a frozen Jameson-tini please. Extra chocolate sauce but a Nilla wafer instead of the Fruity Pebbles.
posted by dirtdirt at 2:37 PM on July 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


We like our women like we like our scotch bourbon: 18 years old and mixed up with coke.

ftfy

As your bartender, I refuse to serve you a scotch and coke.* You can have your coffee however you damn well please. There are lines. The problem comes from drawing them in the wrong places.

But I'll serve you a shot of scotch, a coke on the side, and a swizzle stick. I do work for tips.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:38 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow - and people complain about obituary FPPs? I needed a coffee just to get through this.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:39 PM on July 14, 2008


krinklyfig writes Really? When was the last time you served a single malt scotch with soda to a customer?

What? You aren't a bartender? That's surprising.


You're seriously suggesting I'd have to be a bartender in order to judge who's a good bartender?
posted by kcds at 2:44 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


I love me so Espresso Freddo but then you need to be in Greece or Cyprus if you don't want the barista to beat you up with a broomstick.
posted by hariya at 2:47 PM on July 14, 2008


kcds writes "You're seriously suggesting I'd have to be a bartender in order to judge who's a good bartender?"

There's a difference between serving drinks for your friends and serving drinks for money. A good bartender, like a good card dealer, will at least warn you before you make a big mistake.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:48 PM on July 14, 2008


140 posts about iced coffee...
posted by Zambrano at 2:49 PM on July 14, 2008


Most of the people who want espresso on ice are just going to dump a bunch of milk in it at that condiment station to make an iced latte at half the price.

I totally do this at Starbucks every single day, with pleasure, and they couldn't care less.

I once went to a local coffee-snot shop (Vivace) and did the same thing....as I'm at the condiment bar dumping in some 1/2 and 1/2, I realize the barista is YELLING at me "UH, IF YOU WANTED A BREVE YOU SHOULD PAY FOR IT!". I've never gone there again. I can't put fucking milk in my coffee now? Jesus.
posted by tristeza at 2:53 PM on July 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


"140 posts about iced coffee..."

More accurately, 140 posts about coffee which can't be iced. IT CAN'T BE ICED!!!!
posted by Ragma at 2:53 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


He should have told the barista that he needed the espresso iced because he was taking it as an enema.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:58 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


"140 posts about iced coffee..."

More accurately, 140 posts about coffee which can't be iced. IT CAN'T BE ICED!!!!


Even more accurately 150 comments about a post on a kind of coffee which can't be iced.

Or something.
posted by quin at 3:03 PM on July 14, 2008


From the only country in the world where Starbucks doesn't even dare to think to open shop, I'm more and more appalled at the progressive snobification of coffee.

Also: espresso (shaken) on ice is perfectly normal during the summer. Hell, in Sicily you'd even have breakfast with pastries and an espresso granita.
posted by _dario at 3:03 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also: espresso (shaken) on ice is perfectly normal during the summer. Hell, in Sicily you'd even have breakfast with pastries and an espresso granita.

If you're in Philly in the summer, you gotta head down to Fante's in the Italian Market. Their espresso granita is a life-saver in that kind of humidity.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:07 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Times like this I'm very glad I make my own damned espresso drinks. If I ever choose ruin an espresso's "crema" by pouring it over ice, I can just slap myself around for it. And then blog about myself. And then sue myself for assault. Or something.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:11 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


also, people should read upthread that the poster of the item is a MeFite who is watching this thread before dishing out words like "petulant" and "bullshit."

If "petulant" and "bullshit" are the worst things mister blogger ever has said about him here, he will be doing much better than a whole lot of other MeFites.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:15 PM on July 14, 2008


In MeTa, "petulant" and "bullshit" are terms of endearment.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:19 PM on July 14, 2008


me can haz ezprezoz now?
posted by ornate insect at 3:23 PM on July 14, 2008


I'm with the customer on this one. By all means make suggestions as to what I might like, Mr Barista, but if you can make the thing I want (and note the difference in meaning between the word "can" and "want to"), damn well make it. Figure out some way to overcharge me if you must be a dick about it.

If I drink coffee, I like my coffee very simple: instant, arabica, one teaspoon coffee, two teaspoons sugar, 2/3 cup hot water, 1/3 cup milk. Stir. Normally coffee stands sell percolated coffee that tastes like it has about five tablespoons of robusta in it, offer sugar in 1/4-teaspoon-size packets so I have to put at least six of them into it, add a drop and a half of milk to a full cup of water (unless I order a latte, I figured that one out about ten years ago), and serve it so hot that I can't drink it for ten minutes. So I don't often buy coffee. I prefer hot chocolate anyway. There is no doubt in my mind that the barista in this story would consider me a detestable philistine. I don't care. I drink coffee because it keeps me awake, not because I like it. It's my 3pm nodding-off avoidance drink.

My personal bugbear with arbitrary restaurant rules is breakfast/lunch/dinner menus. I like bacon and eggs with fried tomato on the side, and occasionally I like to eat it for lunch or dinner. Also, I often don't eat breakfast until about 10am, or skip it. But bacon and eggs are defined, by the arbitrary definers of such things (whom mere restauranteurs feel unable to question) as "Breakfast Food". Thus, to serve it at 12pm is Forbidden. I'm pleased to say I've found the way around that one, as long as a bacon-and-egg burger is on the menu. Order a bacon-and-egg burger, on a plate, with no bread, and the parts separated, and order it with a smile (not annoying people who serve you food is important). I've never had it fail yet.

With all such "workarounds", the trick is to work out what it is you actually want to eat or drink. Forget about bending the jerk behind the counter to your will. Just order in such a way that what ends up on the plate, is what you want. Also, take your win and let it go. I was pleased with my little win of bacon and eggs at lunch, but I wouldn't have cared if I hadn't seen "bacon and egg burger" on the menu, and if the restaurant weren't apparently intent on denying a plate of bacon and eggs to me. It became a problem to be solved, a foe to be conquered. Left to my own devices, I'd as soon eat a sausage roll, chips, fish, a burger, whatever. Absent the conflict, I don't really care that much. If the server is a jerk about it, he makes me care, and thus we get stories like this one.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:36 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, for future reference, chinese_fashion: try a frappuccino. :) Blended ice, milk, coffee and sugar.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:40 PM on July 14, 2008


BTW, this was totally a missed opportunity to set up the killer-app of online note-tracking.
posted by Artw at 3:45 PM on July 14, 2008


I knew you were talking about Murky Coffee. They are famous for stuff like that. Around here, anyway.
posted by onepapertiger at 3:46 PM on July 14, 2008


The whiny white yuppie factor comes in when people act like it's the end of the world when they can't get exactly what the want all the time...

When a store offers something for sale, including a certain amount of choice, and has the ingredients on hand to fulfill your desired choice but refuses, I think some ire is acceptable.

Consider: was I a whiny white yuppie when I bicycled to my not-very-local Burger King as a pre-teen to get a hamburger and milkshake, asked for a 1/3 vanilla, 1/3 strawberry and 1/3 chocolate milkshake, and was told no? And not just "go away, kid" no by the counter jockey, but "absolutely not, it is not on the menu and I will not sell it to you" by the manager, who came out specifically to tell me this after overhearing the counter guy deny me?

That was back when I was a nice kid, too; I didn't sass or anything, I had just asked politely for what I wanted. And, being a naive kid, I took a comment card on my way out, filled it out, and sent it to Burger King corporate headquarters.

But I still won't eat there, and it's been at least 24 years.
posted by davejay at 3:49 PM on July 14, 2008


on post-submit review: damn, can I hold a grudge or what? And I didn't even remember this story until this thread, hadn't thought about it in as long as I can remember, yet have been subconsciously avoiding Burger King all this time. The brain is a wild and wonderful thing.
posted by davejay at 3:50 PM on July 14, 2008


This is really awful writing.

The whole world turned brown and chunky for a second. Flecks of corn floated past my pupils, and it took me a second to blink it all away.

I stopped reading his story at that juncture.
posted by voltairemodern at 3:56 PM on July 14, 2008


I read this entire thread hoping for answers, but I'm still no closer to understanding why chinese_fashion retreats into a fantasy cloud of corn-vomit when he gets angry.

Anyone?
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 3:59 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


JINX
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 4:00 PM on July 14, 2008


So is an iced espresso really that much more of a sin than a Cafe Americano?
posted by smackfu at 4:02 PM on July 14, 2008


This is really awful writing.

The whole world turned brown and chunky for a second. Flecks of corn floated past my pupils, and it took me a second to blink it all away.

I stopped reading his story at that juncture.


I think they did a great job describing what it's like to have your own head up your ass.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:04 PM on July 14, 2008 [19 favorites]


Well, wait. I don't want to make fun of his writing. I just think that's a sweet magical-realist way to cope with rage. I'm gonna try it.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 4:08 PM on July 14, 2008


krinklyfig: The question was, how does adding water to the magic espresso before icing it change what happens to the crema?
posted by bink at 4:10 PM on July 14, 2008



Pours self evenings second Drambuie and smiles as 'inanity' fits crossword slot perfectly.
posted by notreally at 4:11 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


There are bars in England that don't sell Snakebites (strong lager mixed with strong cider - sometimes flavoured with blackcurrent cordial) because of the perception that people who drink this evil brew are - I dunno, Chavs, Skangers, lower class - whatever. I posted a while back about chip shops in Ireland - there are some who won't serve my favorite curry chips with coleslaw for similar reasons. It is these people that will be the first, when The Time comes.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 4:16 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I can sympathize with the bartenders out there who don't want to serve an ultimately fucked up drink, and I'm sure there are plenty of folks who will appreciate the friendly warning, but that's as far as it should be pushed. People know what they like, and even if they like stuff that you think is shitty, it's the food service industry.

It makes me cringe when people ask me for ice cubes to put into their twelve dollar glass of Sancerre. It's cool when you can educate people about the drinks they're buying, but it's pretty clear when people want to learn fun facts and when they want you to shut the fuck up and bring them some ice so they can put it in the wine they paid too much for to begin with.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 4:18 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


As your bartender, I refuse to serve you a scotch and coke...

People actually drink scotch and Coke? Really?
posted by ericb at 4:19 PM on July 14, 2008


I think many people here are missing the point.

He didn’t ask the barista to ice his freaking espresso.

He asked for an espresso. He asked for a cup of ice. The barista’s job ended there.

If he should want to pour HIS espresso over HIS ice, whatever. So much drama over nothing.
posted by jeanmari at 4:24 PM on July 14, 2008


Vivace

Ah, the stories I could tell. Well, two stories. One involves older married man (who owns the place? works there?) hitting on an attractive 20-something co-worker, thoroughly creeping her out. Second involves an accusation of running into espresso equipment stashed in the ultra-tight basement parking garage (I mean, if it's so valuable, huh?) and then having a "bumper comparison" which makes it pretty evident that accusations are baseless, but only after being presented with a bill.

But they do put a pretty flower or leaf in your foam, I guess. Me? I drink caffiene corn syrup in a can.
posted by maxwelton at 4:31 PM on July 14, 2008


These same bartenders are the ones that will serve shots like the "cement mixer" or "bullsweat" yes?
posted by Big_B at 4:34 PM on July 14, 2008


Murky Coffee? I didn't notice that. What proprietor who is so concerned about the integrity and purity of his product gives his business a name like that? I mean, from this incident, it seems to fit but not if they want to cling so hard to notions of the superiority of their product.
posted by Dreama at 4:50 PM on July 14, 2008


Obviously, espresso of this calibre probably isn't akin to single malt scotch, but there is some precedent.

It is Murky Coffee though. They're one of the most notable coffee shops in the USA, and go to extensive trouble to source the best beans, have the best espresso machines -- often custom modified. Similarly for grinders. Go through extensive testing to make sure that the cup they serve is as close to perfect as it can be.

I mean, if espresso can be akin to single malt, then the espresso they serve at Murky is probably it. And given how much effort they put into the gourmet coffee experience, why the fuck would you go there and want to drink it over ice anyway? Unless it's your nearest coffee shop, why wouldn't you just go to your local Starbucks?

The barista’s job ended there.

I'm pretty sure that Murky's baristas have, in the past, either won or placed very highly in the US Barista of the Year competition. Again, if you want a barista who doesn't give a shit about the stuff that he's serving, there are branches of Starbucks all over. Murky has what, two or three branches at most?

I'm guessing that -- from the barista's point of view -- they taking pride in educating their customers on the best way to enjoy their drink. Making a transcendental espresso is not an easy thing to do. Murky put a great deal of effort into attempting to accomplish that. If you want to piss all over that effort by pouring the drink all over ice, that's fine by me, but if I'd made the drink for you at my house, the next time around I'd be serving you instant.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:51 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


There's a word for the kind of weasel barista in the linked screed: satrap. A petty autocrat in a subordinate position whose only power is drawn from the position he or she holds. Like a meter maid, or a parking lot attendant, or a puffed-up security guard. The sweaty, mustached turd in the stained short-sleeved shirt who manages the 7-11 and chases the kids away. The sleepy-eyed receptionist who files her nails and makes you wait while she yaks with her friends.

Always take the opportunity to puncture the balloons that they have inflated with their own senses of self-importance. Always. The coffee monkey* is snide about your choice? Tell him to keep his irrelevant fucking opinions to himself and pour. The waiter won't bring you a little jar of mustard because the chef would be offended if the inegrity of the dish is broken? Tell him that if you wanted to buy art, you'd be at a gallery, and that the chef's claim over the integrity of the dish ends when it hits the table.

No, I'm with the angry guy on this one, and I don't even drink coffee.

* ("Barista"? Please. If you can't make a pretty picture in the foam, you're a coffee monkey. At best.)
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 4:56 PM on July 14, 2008 [19 favorites]


There's a word for the kind of weasel barista in the linked screed: satrap.

Apparently theres a term in Danish which is something like "Desk Admiral", which I kind of like.
posted by Artw at 5:00 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


The guy thinks it's a good idea to drink 7 espressos in an hour and anyone wonders why there was a confrontation?

At 75mg caffeine per espresso, that's 525 mg of caffeine.

I would like to point out that they make a lot of good decaf coffees these days...
posted by Argyle at 5:00 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


but if I'd made the drink for you at my house, the next time around I'd be serving you instant.
And that would be fine if I was a guest at your home and you made me something nice. However, if it's a coffee shop, and I am paying for it you work for me, pal, and if you give both barrels full of 'tude, by god, I just might be forced to make a sharply worded entry about it in my blog.
posted by dirtdirt at 5:04 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


People who drink single malt Scotch with ice are beneath contempt and do not deserve to go on living. I don't think any reasonable person could possibly disagree with that.

As far as espresso? Hey, whatever.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:16 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


actually, I'm just back from my wife's birthday dinner at a local southwestern restaurant where I did a shot called 'the punisher' that required me to sign a waiver. It was habanero infused tequila. It was hot, but I've had worse. They said that I reacted better than any customer they'd seen, most of whom gagged or puked. It was tasty actually, if you ask me.

(told you I was hardcore)
posted by jonmc at 5:30 PM on July 14, 2008


Ice!!! Ice!!!

Baby.
posted by oats at 5:33 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Um, far be of from me to not read the 8,079,569 comments this has generated thus far and still comment anyway, but I'm totally with this guy. Murky at Eastern Market used to be on my way to work (before it closed, apparently), and I have never seen people making $7.00 an hour cop so much 'tude over some cherry pits in my life. The whole thing is just so trite; between the "we're the only people standing up to the evil, faceless corporation whose name we insist on typing with a dollar sign as the first letter" B.S. and the "no really, I'm totally a bike messenger when I'm not jerking coffee and yet I still have $900 for a huge arm tattoo" B.S. I found the place insufferable.

I don't want to get involved in your holy war about roasting methods. I just have to go to work and need some caffeine to do it. The ex-D.C. resident in me applauds this guy.

Also, Nick Verstayne's comment FTW.
posted by littlerobothead at 5:40 PM on July 14, 2008


Murky Coffee? I didn't notice that. What proprietor who is so concerned about the integrity and purity of his product gives his business a name like that?

Just yesterday, I remarked on my wonderment at what the people who name some restaurants were thinking when they did it. This was prompted by the sight of a dining establishment called "The Muddy Moose." It reminded me of another one, "The Rusty Scupper."

Of course, I'm fond of referring to the "Outhouse Steakback," so don't ask my advice when naming your eatery.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:40 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Burger King as a pre-teen to get a hamburger and milkshake, asked for a 1/3 vanilla, 1/3 strawberry and 1/3 chocolate milkshake, and was told no...

WTF, Burger King? Your most famous company slogan, created in 1974 and used today, is "BURGER KING® HAVE IT YOUR WAY®," reflecting pride in serving exactly what your customers want.
posted by ericb at 5:53 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


PeterMcDermott: I mean, if espresso can be akin to single malt, then the espresso they serve at Murky is probably it. And given how much effort they put into the gourmet coffee experience, why the fuck would you go there and want to drink it over ice anyway? Unless it's your nearest coffee shop, why wouldn't you just go to your local Starbucks?

Well, we've already had a voice in from the country that invented the fucking drink when Americans were boiling coffee and selling it as crystals. And in some cases, they not only add ice, but cream and sugar as well. So objecting to pouring espresso over ice is an ignorant and affected snobbery. Because gourmet coffee is quite a bit broader than just what's on the menu at Starbucks.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:54 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know, I once ordered tea with honey and milk at a Panera Bread. They serve drinks with honey in them, and drinks with milk in them, and tea—but apparently this was somehow frikkin' hilarious. The whole staff of the store came to stare at me and ask "how the heck you can drink that," giggle at me, etc.

It was ridiculous.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:57 PM on July 14, 2008


Sure, the asshole barista got *a whole dollar*, but he made his point without doing something shitty that he had to be ashamed of. An what's the pretentious barista going to say?"this philistine left me a dollar tip...with profanity on it"? I think it's genius, or at least, worth a dollar.He stood up for himself in some way that wasn't bullying.

This is something I see a lot. People who have perfectly dignified jobs having to bolster their self esteem by telling the customer that they're a cut above. I'm a librarian. Some of my colleagues get bent out of shape because *people don't respect what we do* and ask stupid questions, like "can I borrow a pen". I went into a watch storein Eaton Center-- a trashy tourist mall in down-town Toronto-- and had the nerve to ask for an automatic watch, or wind watch for around a hundred dollars. I was told that that they only sell very special watches, and the incensed sales person (watch professional) tried to drag me around to show me how much people spent on watches until I screamed uncle. Man, it's a good thing for her I'm too repressed to ridicule strangers.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:59 PM on July 14, 2008


Those who are so uptight about their gourmet food that they object to perfectly fine, lovely and traditional variations, don't deserve to be foodies.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:06 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Ordering espresso over ice -- well, de gustibus non est disputandum. Denying the customer what they ordered is idiotic, though. They run a business, for crying out loud.

Just thought I'd better weigh in here.
posted by drinkcoffee at 6:17 PM on July 14, 2008


Why is it so difficult to give same respect of profession and respect of role to barista or waitress that you can give to doctors, lawyer, web community host? Is it so much more insulting to hear from a barista that your drink is horrid than hearing that your business idea not viable or your front page post is bad or your exercise is insufficient? Does it come down to that baristas and waitress are categorized as service class people? Any job can be recategorized to that. Yours too.

So how should we proceed? Keep up the clear class difference between people who should just shut up and serve and people who are treated as informed equals with pride and discussable opinions about their expertise? Or expand the class who we consider as a service level people? Mathowies, Jessamyns, small business owners and web designers and investment bankers, shut up and do as we told and we may give you a tip? Or raise the status of waitresses and baristas to equals who we can learn from and who deserve as much or more smile and politeness from customers than they give? If you think that tipping or being the paying one changes the power dynamics and justifies having your way or no way, here is 10€, I'll borrow your daughter/sister for a night.

Goddamn these class societies.
posted by Free word order! at 6:20 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Free word order!, part of it is that the barista is often not exactly an authority. I don't drink coffee, so I can't comment on espresso over ice, but in my example above, I'm sure I know much more about drinking tea than the service staff at Panera Bread, and if I order my tea with milk and honey, I would prefer that they give me milk and honey without talking about my choice in drink.

(Part of my goal in using milk and honey was in killing the horrible flavor of the sub-par tea they always use, after all.)
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:28 PM on July 14, 2008


Man this thread is a goldmine of taglines.

MetaFilter: Christ, what assholes

MetaFilter: annoying people annoying each other

MetaFilter: what you're about to do is really Not Okay
posted by bwg at 6:28 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


The job of a bartender (or barista, etc.) is to provide me with what I asked for, if it is available and I am willing to pay.

Isn't that what hookers do?
posted by bwg at 6:29 PM on July 14, 2008


Why is it so difficult to give same respect of profession and respect of role to barista or waitress that you can give to doctors, lawyer, web community host?

Oh man. That's rich.
posted by proj at 6:32 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Be nice, proj. It's exactly the same to be a high-school dropout serving coffee as it is to spend six years of your life studying a profession.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:34 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Well, I've heard lots of people claim PBR or Bud was good beer, but back when I drank, it tasted like horse piss.

And you know what horse piss tastes like how, exactly?

*Just kidding; everybody has said this without really thinking it through ...
posted by bwg at 6:34 PM on July 14, 2008


"Well, I don't know why you'd want to do that to a perfectly good espresso" ...

WWJVD? (What would Juan Valdez do? )
posted by bwg at 6:38 PM on July 14, 2008


It's about time coffee snobs got their comeuppance.
posted by gimonca at 6:45 PM on July 14, 2008


Be nice, sonic meat machine. You're exactly as much of a jerk if you're disrespectful to a high-school dropout serving coffee as you are if you're disrespectful to someone who spent six years of their life studying a profession.

Seriously ... you are.
posted by kyrademon at 6:46 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


A response from Murky. Incidentally, the Murky Coffee location near my house was shut down following tax issues with the DC government. Too bad, since they had the best coffee around and great baristas.
posted by exogenous at 6:48 PM on July 14, 2008


NO SOUP FOR YOU!!
posted by bwg at 6:49 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Ghetto latte"? What, is it premium milk too?
posted by smackfu at 6:52 PM on July 14, 2008


I'm respectful to everyone, kyrademon, but there's a difference between respecting a person (necessary!) and respecting a job (not so much). You can be polite and respectful and still just want them to give you what you order with a minimum of fuss and advice.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:52 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


response from Murky.

There are no circumstances, up to and including the threat of violence against one's family and business (and the idea that Angry Guy made a threat of arson is laughable), under which it is appropriate for a business owner to call out a customer like that in public. None.

Fuck you, Nick. I'd punch you in the dick, but I doubt I could find it with a microscope and a mission statement.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 6:53 PM on July 14, 2008 [8 favorites]


Someone should tip the DC media to this so that they can show how Murky turned the other cheek.
posted by proj at 6:55 PM on July 14, 2008


drinkcoffee: Ordering espresso over ice -- well, de gustibus non est disputandum. Denying the customer what they ordered is idiotic, though. They run a business, for crying out loud.

Well, in this case Margaritas ante Porcos. I suspect that the prejudice here is built around the fact that soft drinks are also served over ice.

Free word order!: Why is it so difficult to give same respect of profession and respect of role to barista or waitress that you can give to doctors, lawyer, web community host? Is it so much more insulting to hear from a barista that your drink is horrid than hearing that your business idea not viable or your front page post is bad or your exercise is insufficient?

If my doctor advised me to take mercury and arsenic, and my lawyer advised me to fudge the numbers on my taxes, you can bet that I'd get a second opinion. And in regards to web community hosts? Well, I have some substantial disagreements with them.

The barista in this case is not just wrong for failing to provide customer service, but wrong when it comes to the many varieties in which one can serve an espresso.

The barista was fucking wrong when he pulled some bullshit about "integrity of the coffee" at a shop serves an Americano, and a "Classic Cappuccino".

And well, evidently the shop management is loaded with the same level of ignorant, pseudo-gourmet pretentious bullshit. (If there are concerns about the quality of an espresso shaken with ice, does this mean that their water is shit?)

It's espresso, people are taking it far too seriously.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:56 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is it so much more insulting to hear from a barista that your drink is horrid than hearing that your business idea not viable or your front page post is bad or your exercise is insufficient? Does it come down to that baristas and waitress are categorized as service class people? Any job can be recategorized to that. Yours too.

Oddly enough, stupid annoying customers exist in nearly every job that involves people. Just ask anyone who has been asked to make the logo bigger. Generally the best way to get paid is to just smile and give them whatever you think will make them walk away happy so you don't have to deal with them anymore.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:00 PM on July 14, 2008


I don't know what this says about anything, but this trivial incident (by the writer's own admission) has spawned more different posts with favorites, and more favorites overall, than any thread I can remember.

Why? Probably because 90% of us have been over-brainy service job employees, and another 90% care too much about espresso, scotch, wine, fancy foods, etc.
posted by msalt at 7:03 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


people who object to iced espresso:gourmet coffee::steampunk cosplay nerds:speculative fiction
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:06 PM on July 14, 2008


WWJVD? (What would Juan Valdez do? )

complain to his burro about the pinche estupido gabachos.
posted by jonmc at 7:12 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


God forbid someone work in a job where they actually care about the product they are making, and encourage their patrons to live life for a minute in the world they create.

This guy should buy his coffee at McDonald's from now on.

Personally, I seek out places like this.
posted by rubin at 7:13 PM on July 14, 2008


I think you're going to enjoy your espresso this time... I've been doing quite a bit of research knowing how hard you are to please... this one comes highly recommended.
posted by brevator at 7:28 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


"No questions will be answered about the $5 Hot Chocolate"?

On the one hand, I like seeing a manager who stands up to customers who abuse his employees, instead of giving them coupons for free crap and berating the retail workers for not eating enough shit and smiling. On the other -- I'm reminded of this music store.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:32 PM on July 14, 2008


"Personally, I seek out places like this."

Wear a cup. I hear Nick's got a thing for cock.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:32 PM on July 14, 2008 [8 favorites]


There are no circumstances, up to and including the threat of violence against one's family and business (and the idea that Angry Guy made a threat of arson is laughable), under which it is appropriate for a business owner to call out a customer like that in public. None.

Why, yes, if you too have as little as $1, you can become a “Customer”, and that means you can treat anybody just exactly how you like, up to and including the threat of violence against their family and business! They shouldn't ever call you out about it. That's the American Way!

Quick, call now, and order some money today and become a Customer! You'll always be right!
posted by bonaldi at 7:36 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm still a little baffled by it, msalt. As far as I can tell, here is what happened:

1) Barista is, arguably, very slightly rude to customer, due to coffee shop policies that the customer thinks are kind of dumb and the barista feels have a reasonable basis.
2) Customer gets what he wants anyway.
3) Customer is somewhat rude to barista, in turn, upon leaving.
4) INTERNET OUTRAGE!!!!!!

To be fair, this admittedly minor incident has stirred up a hornet's nest of issues which are seldom spoken of but are the cause of much conflict in modern industrial society. Is the customer truly always right, an American credo which some take as such a basic tenet of social interaction? Or does a service provider have a right, or even an obligation, to provide high-quality products and avoid providing what they deem low-quality products, even if the customer has requested the latter? And before you laugh off the latter, consider --

Where do you stand on students who want to pay for an easy degree vs. professors who want to provide them with a quality education, whether they want one or not? Who is in the right?

Where do you stand on gourmet restauranteurs who declare that, save for reasons of medical allergies, they will not provide alterations to their menu when requested? Who is in the right?

What would you think of a contractor, a doctor, an engineer, a plumber, a water treatment plant worker, or a baker who insisted on providing high-quality service even though they were being pressured to provide low-quality service instead?

These questions are not as easy as we sometimes pretend. We live in a world uncomfortably balanced between a sense that whoever is paying the money should make the rules, and a sense that informed opinion should hold weight against the too-powerful tide of capital. A world where we feel that the business decisions should be in some sense amoral, and in some sense subservient to the greater public good.

As business increasingly becomes the greatest public sphere, this has led us into the territory of moral decisions -- should lunch counters be able to refuse service to blacks? Should pharmacists be able to refuse to sell birth control pills? What is the role of science in business, what is the function of an expert, and who is really an expert after all?

That being said, it's just coffee. Get a grip.
posted by kyrademon at 7:38 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Restaurants are always aiming for a particular type of customer through the products they sell. If you aim really high, as this place has done, then my experience has been that there are often a lot of silly rules and illogical faux pas that you adhere to and avoid, but the result is that the product is great. Like the whole ritual for the ortolan. It's a tasty little bird stuffed full and eaten whole, but that's all it really is, despite the whole wearing a napkin over your head deal, to hide from god or your guilty, guilty conscience. Why bother with the rest? Well, eating is an experience tied to emotions pretty directly. You could just throw it all in a big bowl and call it a day, but that's the famous bowl, which is not exactly a subtle experience. Why bother picking an appropriate wine for a meal, or being talented or patient enough to discover the best tasting combinations of flavors?

I'm a bit surprised at all the people who seem to think any food service operation has the obligation to make anything the customer wants, given that the ingredients are there. The next time you go out for a nice filet mignon at a place that knows how to do it right, ask the server if they could put it through the grinder, scare up some buns and thousand island, and make a Big Mac out of it. Why not? I'm sure they have all the ingredients.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:40 PM on July 14, 2008


Just to highlight this to everyone who's not a DC local, as exogenous pointed out above, Nick -- the owner of Murky -- had one of his two locations shut down by the DC government a few months ago because he had neglected to pay his DC taxes for 21 of the prior 24 months. So to frame him as any kind of hero here is a bit silly; in the end, he's a dick who, in trying to create a totally pretentious coffee hangout, also decided to fuck one of the communities he served to the tune of nearly half a million dollars. (I wonder if the list of things they don't do at their old DC location had the additional item, "pay our taxes"?)

What a douchewaffle.
posted by delfuego at 7:52 PM on July 14, 2008 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: a story in which I can hate everybody
posted by Hands of Manos at 7:55 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Wow, we really do over think plates of beans.
posted by oddman at 7:55 PM on July 14, 2008


krinklyfig: I'm a bit surprised at all the people who seem to think any food service operation has the obligation to make anything the customer wants, given that the ingredients are there. The next time you go out for a nice filet mignon at a place that knows how to do it right, ask the server if they could put it through the grinder, scare up some buns and thousand island, and make a Big Mac out of it. Why not?

I agree with you, but in this case, the server is willing to serve the espresso mixed with milk, and mixed with ice water. The policy of not wanting to let the customer make a "ghetto latte" is reasonable. But the argument that a traditional and tasty coffee drink violates the integrity of the experience in a way that an iced Americano and a cappuccino do not is bullshit.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:59 PM on July 14, 2008


Nick -- the owner of Murky -- had one of his two locations shut down by the DC government a few months ago because he had neglected to pay his DC taxes for 21 of the prior 24 months. So to frame him as any kind of hero here is a bit silly

Hero? Who said that?

Really is immaterial. I've worked in great restaurants owned by giant douchebags. Nobody thought they were heroes.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:03 PM on July 14, 2008


No questions will be answered about the $5 Hot Chocolate

That's a pretty fucking good milkshake hot chocolate. I don't know if it's worth five dollars but it's pretty fucking good
posted by kirkaracha at 8:14 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Scenario A: You are in breach of their code of ethics and so, are unwelcome.

Patron: I'd like 3 shots of espresso over ice please.
Waiter: No. Now please leave the premises and don’t darken our door again with your offensive and outrageous demands. Here are directions to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts.

Scenario B: They do not have or unwilling to supply what you want.

Patron: I'd like 3 shots of espresso over ice please.
Waiter: I’m sorry sir, that is against company policy.
Patron: Well then, you can clearly do without my custom: It is no wonder Starbucks is putting shops like this out of business all the time. (Exit patron stage left, possibly making loud derogatory comments)

Scenario C: Pragmatism.

Patron: I'd like 3 shots of espresso over ice please.
Waiter: (realizing that it is not on the menu but wanting to avoid conflict with an obnoxious blogger type with an overinflated opinion of his girlfriend’s looks and looking for an unadorned tip.) Well it is against company policy, but I can do it for you just this once.

In scenario A, the waiter and his company are kept happy and the customer knows that this is not the place for him. In scenario B, the customer gets to keep his integrity and the company goes un-besmirched; everybody's happy. In scenario C, the patron gets what he wants and is happy and the waiter gets a tip and is happy. Clearly all of these outcomes are better than what actually happened, the customer getting what he wanted and being unhappy and the waiter having to deal, twice, with an obnoxious customer and contravene company policy.

All of the above seem reasonable ways for two adults to have approached this situation.
Incidentally, I find the word barista offensive. Please stop using it, it makes you look silly. People like Nick and David use the word barista and they are would-be dick punchers.
posted by an egg at 8:14 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree with you, but in this case, the server is willing to serve the espresso mixed with milk, and mixed with ice water. The policy of not wanting to let the customer make a "ghetto latte" is reasonable. But the argument that a traditional and tasty coffee drink violates the integrity of the experience in a way that an iced Americano and a cappuccino do not is bullshit.

It seems sort of arbitrary, but ice and espresso would be a very bitter drink, while the others not so much. I know a lot of people don't see it this way, but if you take this sort of thing to the craft-artisan level then you have to maintain a particular standard, which includes not doing certain things with the food you serve, or not serving something which is below your standard. I really don't see anything wrong with that. Then again, I like good coffee and will pay more for it, but I will always hang out in the shop full of freaks rather than the one full of yuppies, and the freaks will often go where the espresso is serviceable but relatively cheap. And they don't care if you want it on ice.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:15 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, at least Dave, the barista, doesn't work for the TSA.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 8:17 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought the Murky Coffee that closed closed because of an infestation and it not being up to code. I thought I read that somewhere, but I could definitely be totally wrong.

Dayyyyum, that Nick sounds like he bites as well as he barks. I will now associate "Murky Coffee" with getting punched in the crotch. Scary!
posted by onepapertiger at 8:21 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Can we please avoid the term 'ghetto latte'? 'Latte arbitrage' is a much better description, since if their pricing was consistent this type of operation would not be profitable.
posted by Pyry at 8:35 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos: The job of a bartender (or barista, etc.) is to provide me with what I asked for, if it is available and I am willing to pay. The job of a bartender is not to provide the experience that he thinks is "best," even if everyone in the world except the customer agrees with him.

While I understand where you're coming from (hey, we've all heard the customer is always right for decades) in the end I simply can't agree.

In the milieu of a top-notch indie coffee house (like Murky) the job of a barista is at least twofold; to respect the coffee, and to respect the customer. Both of these tracks have a single goal: to knock your socks off with a product you'll want to come back for.

The respect the coffee means, in this context, for the barista to represent the farmer, the roaster and the shop owner by applying his training and experience to craft a drink that upholds the character of the bean, and the ideals of the shop in which its served. That is, I believe, what the barista in this example was trying to do, and -- in this respect -- he did okay.

To respect the customer is to *listen* to what that customer wants, and to try to meet those wants within the constraints of rule #1, respecting the coffee. It's when the customer wants something that doesn't fit inside those constraints -- which happens *all the time* -- well, that's where the barista has to exercise some skills that can be harder to learn than pouring the perfect shot, and steaming milk with aplomb. On this count the barista failed.

Let's say, for sake of argument, that the person behind the counter knew that his espresso blend was crap on ice. Literally. Most espresso blends are extremely fragile balances of flavors and aromas that are meant to cut through lots of dairy, and to (ideally, but more rarely) taste just as great as a single shot. Push the parameters (say, serving straight over ice) and you're on a limb. It's not just a question of dilution... served cold you're changing the fundamental nature of the coffee.

This is perhaps something that the barista in question was prepared to handle and explain. Maybe the barista was prepared to offer alternatives, or to let you taste the espresso alone over ice and compare it to an iced Americano.

However, it sure seems that the customer in this instance was being an asshat... and who really has time for them?

Dreama: This isn't a product which took years to create. It's not a steak that's been dry aged for a month in a specially monitored process. It's not toro tartare with Sterling Royal caviar prepared by a master sushi chef who spent a decade in training. It's not even a cut of lamb that took 56 kcal of energy to produce for every single kcal of food value.

With all due respect, you have no idea...

We're talking about a product that is among the top 5% of all arabica coffees produced worldwide. It's been nurtured and coddled at every step from seed to cup. It begins with an extremely finicky tree that will thrive only above 3000 feet and only in the equatorial tropics, that won't produce a crop for four years, and then will produce only one or two pounds of coffee each nine-month growing season. Those cherries will be hand-picked -- over steep and tortuous terrain -- four or five times throughout the harvest season to get only those that are perfectly ripe. They'll then be rushed to the mill for processing so they don't rot in their own skins, where they'll be sorted, fermented, washed, sorted, dried, and sorted and winnowed again. They'll be roasted and tasted and eventually shipped halfway round the world, and significant amounts of the crop will be ruined in shipping or warehousing and rejected once they've landed. They'll be roasted and maybe blended by folks who are among the top 1% of tasters on the planet, and within days of roasting they'll find their way into your cup as brewed coffee or espresso by somebody who -- if you're lucky -- has more of a clue than you do as to the journey your coffee has made.
posted by deCadmus at 8:38 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Patron: I'd like 3 shots of espresso over ice please.
Waiter: (realizing that it is not on the menu but wanting to avoid conflict with an obnoxious blogger type with an overinflated opinion of his girlfriend’s looks and looking for an unadorned tip.) Well it is against company policy, but I can do it for you just this once.


See, that's reasonable, but it isn't mandatory. I don't know when we got to the point that I as a customer can ask for anything on or off the menu, and if they can improvise it, I'd better well have it or I'm mad as hell. Yes, it's nice. Yes, it's become expected. But that's the thing about little favours. When you come to expect them, you become an asshole.

This:

NO time should EVER be wasted NOT doing ANYTHING to help that customer out, doing what the customer demands

elevates customer service to a tone of morality, which is just plain nonsense. And frankly, I sure as hell wouldn't want to work for you. "The customer is always right" tends to get cited high on lists of reasons why staff get burnt out. Anyway, he's not the boss and he didn't make up this rule. He's entitled to rely on it and the customer is entitled to take his business elsewhere. This is no cause for incivility. Most people who think it is tend to have never worked these kind of jobs, I find.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:44 PM on July 14, 2008


You know, I once ordered tea with honey and milk at a Panera Bread. They serve drinks with honey in them, and drinks with milk in them, and tea—but apparently this was somehow frikkin' hilarious.

S'ok, sonic meat machine, this guy I liked in college made me coffee with honey and milk in it once at a party and I totally liked it (me having had a serious coffee jones since about age 14 or so)... I'm sure I'd get crucified somewhere like Murky's if I asked for such a thing.

FYI to the northeastern US-ers: did you know that, outside the 495, Dunkin's coffee is pretty much ass? Different suppliers to different regions. Here in Cleveland, it's miserable crap compared to the one up the street in good ol' Somerville...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:47 PM on July 14, 2008


I'm a coffee snob (read asshole). I have a very specific order where ever I go*. I've been drinking this for years. The order is a double espresso over ice. If they're unsure how to make it, I can point to the appropriate size of cup, show them where to fill it with ice, and even out where the espresso will reach once it's been added. I'll only do this when someone tells me they can't make it. (In other words, exactly twice in my life. Yes, only twice. If you want to pretend your burnt dirt is precious nectar of Caffea robusta roasted between the thighs of Juan Valdez's virgin daughter, opening a coffee shop is the wrong way to do it.) I don't want to be a dick. I just want my coffee in a very specific manner without an argument.

I'm glad for this post and for the post from Murky's owner. I now know where I won't spend money.
*except at the Green n White Bastards. Some things just are not worth it.
posted by crataegus at 8:54 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hey, sometime last month I asked a waiter to see if they could put avocado on my chicken sandwich... and failing that, put chicken on my avocado sandwich. They said they'd do neither, but could put some avocado on a side plate and I could insert it into the sandwich, myself. I thought that was slightly absurd, but that's about it. My rights were not violated.

This strikes me as the kind of thing certain kinds of guys blow out of proportion when they have a date to impress.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:00 PM on July 14, 2008


I don't know when we got to the point that I as a customer can ask for anything on or off the menu, and if they can improvise it, I'd better well have it or I'm mad as hell.

I think it was when the coffee places figured they could charge people $6 for a cup of coffee by charging them for every little component of a drink, as long as they let the customer choose the components. Or is a soy latte with two squirts of almond syrup a traditional drink served at coffeehouses in Italy?

They reap the reward, they deal with the blowback.
posted by smackfu at 9:05 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


An aside: this askMeFi question is wholly responsible for my cringing at the word "crema".
posted by NikitaNikita at 9:10 PM on July 14, 2008


Murky Coffee: Either order it right, or we'll punch you in the dick.

Personally, if that was the store motto, I would buy coffee there. I would order it wrong and laugh at them, but I'd buy coffee there just the same. More businesses need to be like the Soup Nazi. The world would be a more interesting place.
posted by Ragma at 9:14 PM on July 14, 2008


I asked my bartender tonight, "if someone ordered a single malt scotch and soda", what she would do. She paused to think, and then said, "I'd make it." When I explained the background of the question, she replied that she once had refused to bring a man ketchup for his filet mignon, and though she was chastised by her boss at the time, she still feels she did the right thing.
posted by nomisxid at 9:14 PM on July 14, 2008


"We're talking about a product that is among the top 5% of all arabica coffees produced worldwide. It's been nurtured and coddled at every step from seed to cup. It begins with blah blah blah..."

And yet they serve this precious commodity in a shop like any other, with free WiFi and hippies in the corner noodling on the acoustic guitar. If the stuff is so damn good that they don't want to waste it on the riffraff who'll... who'll... I can barely say it without puking... adulterate it to their own personal tastes... *shiver*... they should make the place invite only.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:16 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I once ordered a sandwich at a sandwich place. I said "Gimme a mustard sandwhich on wholegrain, and keep the mustard in the little packets." Guy refused...so I murdered him.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:23 PM on July 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


A response from Murky

I'd suggest we do a whip-round to buy Mr. Murky a ticket to Italy if he thinks no one puts espresso over ice. But the guy's clearly a dick, so fuck him.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:24 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I also think Murky should add to their menu a new drink called "Dick Punch", which would be a triple espresso over ice. Or whatever "Dick Punch" is in Italian. They wouldn't actually serve this, but the manager would come out and tell you to fuck off in person, after you'd paid of course.
posted by Ragma at 9:29 PM on July 14, 2008 [7 favorites]


Or whatever "Dick Punch" is in Italian.

Chianti.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:33 PM on July 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


Drug addicts arguing about how to take their drug of choice is sooooo 70's.

I wonder if soda jerks were so damn smug about manufacturing and serving their products?
posted by FormlessOne at 9:39 PM on July 14, 2008


Murky Coffee: Either order it right, or we'll punch you in the dick.

Catchy slogan.
posted by Tenuki at 9:53 PM on July 14, 2008 [7 favorites]


Well, we've already had a voice in from the country that invented the fucking drink when Americans were boiling coffee and selling it as crystals.

98% of coffee served in Italy doesn't fall into the category that Murky are aiming at either. Most of what we know about the science of serving espresso has only really been learned in the last ten years or so, and it's these advances that companies like Murky are seeking to deliver to their customer.

And in some cases, they not only add ice, but cream and sugar as well. So objecting to pouring espresso over ice is an ignorant and affected snobbery.

No, it's neither. It's akin to going into a restaurant that specializes in Kobe beef and asking for a quarter pounder and fries. The people who work there know that hamburgers exist. They don't think there's anything wrong with a good hamburger. That just isn't what they do there. If you want a hamburger, go to somewhere that sells hamburgers.

Also: why all the hate for 'barista'? It just means 'bartender' in italian.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:26 PM on July 14, 2008


Posting in epic iced espresso dick-punching thread.
posted by Miastar at 10:30 PM on July 14, 2008


Posting in epic iced espresso dick-punching thread.

OMG SOMEONE ARCHIVE THIS SHIT NAO, FOR GREAT JUSTICE!
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:34 PM on July 14, 2008


Oops, forgot the italics. Man, whatever.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:35 PM on July 14, 2008


My work here is done.

In case the doesn't stick, Murky Coffee is now the #1 Google result for "punch you in the dick".
posted by Ragma at 10:37 PM on July 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Is espresso capable of the difference in quality that exists between your average hamburger and Kobe beef? I wouldn't know (having had neither Murky Coffee espresso nor Kobe beef), but if PeterMcDermott is right about espresso changing drastically over the past decade, I guess the problem is that no one really knows.

Does it make more sense to act like we do know (and denounce uncouth customers) or act like we don't (and denounce uncouth baristas)?
posted by Maxson at 10:43 PM on July 14, 2008


Most of what we know about the science of serving espresso has only really been learned in the last ten years or so, and it's these advances that companies like Murky are seeking to deliver to their customer.

Yes, yes, directional speaker cables.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:51 PM on July 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


I wonder if soda jerks were so damn smug about manufacturing and serving their products?
If they were, at least their name was sort of a tip off*. I hate the word barista, any time I go into a coffee place I always expect some stuffy guy with a funny accent and a huge goofy wig† to be behind the counter, and I'm invariably disappointed. Even more so when they refuse to put ice in my coffee.
May I humbly put forward "Java Jerks"?
*Yes, I know they don't mean that sort of jerk.
†Yes, I get that they have the same root.


We've had to ban a customer because of his chronic napping.
Man, I can't wait until someone posts the blog entry of a narcoleptic MeFite who was harassed and discriminated against in some coffee place.
Hey, it could happen.

David, the barista in question, is respectful, passionate, and cares about making good coffee, and he cares about murky's policies.
"And he has 32 pieces of flair!"

I also like the idea that the clerk might have issued some vague, thinly veiled threat
Back when I was a restaurant manager, there was an old, brusque, and very tall man who often came in the afternoon. Back in the day, he was probably an imposing figure, but time had had its way with him, and the shot elastic waistband on his sweatpants probably didn't help, either. One day, the geriatric giant shuffle-stalked over to me at the menu station, his scowl deeper than usual. "My sandwich is crap," he snarled, looming over me. "Crap."
"Sorry to hear that," sez I. "What's wrong? We'll fix it, no problem."
"The tomato, it's got that white shit in it, it's disgusting."
Hating that gross white shit myself, I winced. "I'm sorry about that, we can get another made up, and I guarantee you that the tomatoes will be-"
"Don't bother, I just wanted you to know about the crap they're making back there." he interrupted. I could see he was building himself a nice little head of steam over it; getting a remake, gratis, didn't matter as much as this growing feeling of righteous rage. The dude was a write-off, nothing I could do or say would make him happy, so I returned to sorting the menus. "It's always crap here, shitty."
With a slightly peeved tone, I replied "Again sir, I'm sorry-"
"Maybe I should just go back there and smack those shits, teach 'em." He took an angry step towards the kitchen, glaring at me, so close I could smell his salve.
This was getting out of hand, I had better things to do than stroke the phantom cock of a bully well past his best before date. "Well, I can't stop you sir, but you should know that we have some pretty fit guys back there. And they have really big knives."
I noticed some other customers getting up from the table and walked over to the register. The old man stood for a moment, glaring at the kitchen, and then returned to his sandwich. He paid without saying anything, and left.
He was back the next afternoon.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:52 PM on July 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


93 comments, and not one with the words "Tempest in a coffee cup?"

No soup for you!
posted by spock at 11:20 PM on July 14, 2008


metafilter: "It's always crap here, shitty."...He was back the next afternoon.
posted by ornate insect at 11:23 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I used to work at a WaWa. Some guy came in every night and ordered an Italian hoagie with ketchup on it. I refused to make it because it's fucking disgusting and had a coworker do it, unless I was the only one available and I had no choice.

If I ran WaWa, would I ban such a disgusting sandwich from ever being made in my stores? Nah, people have different tastes.

The coffee shop owner, and food/drink snobs in general have to realize that there is NO SUCH THING as the absolute right way to make something for every person.

Is this a shock to us? Everyone has foods they just don't like no matter how great the chef.

The off-flavors produced by the ice or whatever the complaint is about may be what the customer enjoys. The fact that he ordered it, with confidence, instead of asking for advice shows he knows what he is ordering, and likes it.

As long as it doesn't inconvenience the staff it's good business to go ahead and give the customer what they want.

I guess there can be complications in giving the customer what they want, one time an asshole customer came in to the WaWa I worked at and ordered a hoagie with extra salt on it. The next day he called the manager to complain that I had tried to poison him with too much salt.

The best you can do is try to help the customer any way you can, it can backfire but it's the best way to make the most customers happy that I know.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:27 PM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's akin to going into a restaurant that specializes in Kobe beef and asking for a quarter pounder and fries.

It's not. I refuse to believe the coffee they serve at this Murky place is to other coffee from any other cafe in the world as Kobe beef is to a Big Mac. If their coffee was really that good, they'd be serving their coffee to the Queen of motherfucking England, not hipsters in DC.

This reminds me of that post about Noka Chocolate; people sure will pay a premium for a bit of glitz and bullshit.

I can only imagine the hilarity that would have happened, had the customer ordered this espresso, taken it to a table, then gone back to ask for the ice. Would the employee follow him back to his table to ensure he didn't go mixing them? Fucking hell.
posted by Jimbob at 11:43 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hear if you mark the rim of the mug with a green felt-tip pen, it'll prevent the crema from evaporating.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:16 AM on July 15, 2008 [8 favorites]


More than half of the customers who we gave "iced espresso" to (back before our now infamous policy) would take that cup to the condiment bar and pour 8-14 ounces of milk out of the dairy pitcher, effectively taking advantage of a perceived loophole in the "system."(from the coffee shop owner's blog)

So much for the bullshit about "quality of the product". Like so many "hip capitalists", he can't quite bring himself to say it's all about the money.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:53 AM on July 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


Well, at least I now know of a place that probably serves decent espresso in the US.
posted by ysabet at 2:01 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


This could happen only in the US, where ignorance and stupidity make stupid and ignorant people proud of themselves and their free ignorant and stupid mind. And I'm talking about everyone involved in this masquerade.
posted by zouhair at 2:07 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


The respect the coffee means, in this context, for the barista to represent the farmer, the roaster and the shop owner by applying his training and experience to craft a drink that upholds the character of the bean, and the ideals of the shop in which its served.

What a load of shit.
posted by troybob at 2:19 AM on July 15, 2008 [7 favorites]


On the horizon: Stuck-up newsstand slut refuses to sell Vogue magazine to fat girl because it violates the ideals of the fashion industry.
posted by troybob at 2:25 AM on July 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


You must be a proud american then, Zouhair, by making such a stupid and chauvinistic generalization.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:24 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


With all due respect, you have no idea...

We're talking about a product that is among the top 5% of all arabica coffees produced worldwide. It's been nurtured and coddled at every step from seed to cup. It begins with an extremely finicky tree that will thrive only above 3000 feet and only in the equatorial tropics, that won't produce a crop for four years, and then will produce only one or two pounds of coffee each nine-month growing season. Those cherries will be hand-picked -- over steep and tortuous terrain -- four or five times throughout the harvest season to get only those that are perfectly ripe. They'll then be rushed to the mill for processing so they don't rot in their own skins, where they'll be sorted, fermented, washed, sorted, dried, and sorted and winnowed again. They'll be roasted and tasted and eventually shipped halfway round the world, and significant amounts of the crop will be ruined in shipping or warehousing and rejected once they've landed. They'll be roasted and maybe blended by folks who are among the top 1% of tasters on the planet, and within days of roasting they'll find their way into your cup as brewed coffee or espresso by somebody who -- if you're lucky -- has more of a clue than you do as to the journey your coffee has made.



Oh, those coffee beans, well those coffee beans are different, you're totally right about that. Let me tell you what you can do with those special magical coffee beans, because their journey isn't quite complete yet: Just take them one by one and with the tip of your finger gently poke them up your rosebud to save forever with mommies promises that you are a wonderful special totally unique person and maybe cram one of your top 1% of tasters in there as well and then wash your hands very carefully with some hot artisanal volcanic spring water from Java and some soap hand-crafted by organic Swiss soapninja geniuses AND THEN GO GET MY MOTHERFUCKING CUP OF COFFEE THE WAY I ORDERED IT AND SHUT YOUR FUCKING STUPID FACE WHILE YOU DO IT.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:17 AM on July 15, 2008 [21 favorites]


THIS IS A DISASTER I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY PUT ESPRESSO AND ICE TOGETHER I CAN'T BELIEVE THESE PEOPLE ARE SO CLUELESS ABOUT THE BASICS OF ESPRESSO THIS IS A DISASTER
posted by katinka-katinka at 5:56 AM on July 15, 2008


I refuse to believe the coffee they serve at this Murky place is to other coffee from any other cafe in the world as Kobe beef is to a Big Mac.

Go ahead... hold your breath. Don't forget to stomp your feet for effect, too. ;)
posted by deCadmus at 5:59 AM on July 15, 2008


AND THEN GO GET MY MOTHERFUCKING CUP OF COFFEE THE WAY I ORDERED IT AND SHUT YOUR FUCKING STUPID FACE WHILE YOU DO IT.

Exactly. Of all the coffee drunk by people each day, how many cups are drunk because the drinker wants to, and how many because their stupid fucking boss for some fucking reason thinks it's a good idea for them to start their stupid fucking job at fucking fuck-o'clock a.m. and they stayed up late last night because that's the only fucking chance they get to watch CSI and ... just hurry up and give me the fucking coffee, you asshole, I'm already late.

*glares*

*stares, glassy-eyed*

*quaffs coffee in under four seconds*

*leaves*
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:01 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


OK, follow me here. Murky Coffee's roasted beans come from Counter Culture Coffee.

Counter Culture Coffee has a page describing the "perfect iced coffee", at the bottom of which is a promo link to Imbibe Magazine's "2008 Ultimate Summer Drinks Guide".

At the bottom of the sidebar on the fourth page of that guide (marked page 42 in the PDF) is the following paragraph:

"Some cafes don't serve iced coffee at all -- only iced Americanos. When ice rubs up next to ice cubes, things can sour, literally. But with good technique, skilled baristas can make great tasting iced espresso."

Just thought that string of facts was a bit ironic, given Nick's idiotic *insistence* on the horror of iced espresso. I guess he and his baristas should just be exhibiting better technique... his bean roasters (who, I'd venture, know a metric asston more than he does about coffee) certainly don't have any kind of absolutist problem with iced espresso.
posted by delfuego at 6:51 AM on July 15, 2008 [8 favorites]


I also love, for pure irony's sake, that the current top post on one of the blogs Nick co-authors is all about how putting red wine over ice isn't heresy.
posted by delfuego at 7:02 AM on July 15, 2008


This reminds me of the time I was at an uber hip restaurant/bar south of Market in SF in 2001 (which went under later that year as the dotcom death took away their customers) and someone in our party ordered a mojito because they were kind of new and hip at the time and the waiter returned after a few minutes and said he was sorry, but the bartender refused because he thought it was too popular and a total cliche to drink one. We asked the waiter to repeat it and he did, and then my friend stuck with water for the night.

I have no idea why we didn't just get up and leave over the pretentious bartender but we laughed about it all night, repeating it every few minutes to each other.
posted by mathowie at 7:14 AM on July 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


...outside the 495, Dunkin's coffee is pretty much ass...

Outside which 495?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:29 AM on July 15, 2008


Ech, this is obvious.

A customer needs to be treated exactly as if they are someone you like in your house. This doesn't mean you have to put up with BS - you'd throw even a good friend out of your house if he acted up - but if your good friend asked for something you privately felt was gross, you might try to convince him otherwise.

BUT I completely understand where the server was coming from - because it has to be pretty depressing being a barista. Nobody says as a kid, "I want to grow up and serve coffee to rich pricks and make very little money. (Not meaning that the customer in this case was a prick, I'm totally on his side even though I think iced coffee is disgusting on principle. :-D)

I was in a great Greek deli in Astoria once - the counterman (and probably owner at least in part) was completely into his role, he'd chat with you, make suggestions, give you little tastes, make jokes. As a result I never went in there without buying something unexpected and usually tasty; they got at least 25% more business from me as a result, but more, I liked and respected this man as a talented individual who understood that you can bring the Buddha nature to any job.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:41 AM on July 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


but the bartender refused because he thought it was too popular and a total cliche to drink one.

You know, that's just unfathomably rude. Making a mojito requires specialized ingredients (fresh mint, a lot of limes and sugar cane juice) so if the bartender never served them, the waiter would be completely correct to say, "I'm sorry, we don't carry the ingredients for this drink."

Well, not unfathomably. See above: I assume the poor guy has a chip on his shoulder because he's "only" the bartender.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:44 AM on July 15, 2008


...outside the 495, Dunkin's coffee is pretty much ass...

Outside which 495?


Neither of these sentences could be written from inside 495.

Dunkin' Donuts has grown to envelop a lot of places, but it is by nature a pretty profoundly Bostony institution. The 495 referred to here is the beltway surrounding greater Boston.

But, addressing the second sentence, no one from Massahooey would call it the 495. It's just 495. All numbered highways are. That's one of the things I found odd when I first spent time in California. It's not 405 it's THE 405. Weird.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:49 AM on July 15, 2008


A response from Murky...

This is online kerfuffle is kinda like the GiveWell kerfuffle!
posted by ericb at 8:02 AM on July 15, 2008


The Consumerist: Coffee-Shop Threatens To "Punch" Customer In His "Dick".
posted by ericb at 8:06 AM on July 15, 2008


Nick Cho..."owns Murky Coffee in Washington, D.C., and sits on the board of the Specialty Coffee Association of America" on American Public Media's Marketplace radio progam[June 19, 2008]: A latte art in a cup.
posted by ericb at 8:09 AM on July 15, 2008


Neither of these sentences could be written from inside 495.

Demonstrably wrong, since at least one of them was so written.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:09 AM on July 15, 2008


Demonstrably wrong, since at least one of them was so written.
Well, yes, I actually meant that it was LITERALLY PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE for those characters to be typed out while in that geographic area. And I was very very wrong. Thank you for pointing that out.

And I wonder which sentence you mean, the one that seems like it was posted from Cleveland, or the one that wondered which 495?
posted by dirtdirt at 8:14 AM on July 15, 2008


heh, I guess you mean yours, and presumable you are within 495.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:16 AM on July 15, 2008


What kind of sentiment is expressed in "I'm going to punch you in your dick"? Was it just too much coffee and a misplaced desire to be clever/original? A simple "kick in the balls" threat would've worked much better, and is far more eloquent. I don't know where people got this idea that you always have to be racking your brains to come up with some bizarre "original" thing, but it's not really being creative.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:18 AM on July 15, 2008


From this picture, it looks like Nick is the one who got punched in the dick.
posted by studentbaker at 8:20 AM on July 15, 2008


"I don't know where people got this idea that you always have to be racking your brains to come up with some bizarre "original" thing"

Once you decide that it's a good idea to threaten another man's penis because they had the INSANE AND INSULTING request of pouring your magic coffee over ice......... well.... creativity goes off the table, because you are insane.

I say this as a coffee snob with four different coffee makers, a $200 grinder, and a passion for good beans. When I make coffee I have a stop watch and an instant read thermometer near by. I have coffeegeek.com bookmarked. I can be very serious about coffee. But I know this - Taking coffee so seriously that you won't pour it over ice when asked by a paying customer is insane. Especially when you have no problem putting ice cubes in your fine wine.

It transcends creative. It's wonderfully insane. It takes a bitter slurry made from burnt seeds and calls it the juice of the gods. It turns a store clerk into a coffee Nazi.

"Do not fuck with our coffee, or we will punch you in your dick!!!!"

That's not creative. That's fabulously insane.
posted by Ragma at 8:38 AM on July 15, 2008


BARISTA EXCHANGE?!? SERIOUSLY?!?

Ridiculous.
*Resumes reading Custodian Quarterly*
Ooooh, the fall brooms are out!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:45 AM on July 15, 2008 [6 favorites]


The first line from Murky Coffee's website says it all really:

One day, after getting sick of being fired (or close to it) from pretty much every job he ever had, Nicholas Cho decided to look into starting his own business.

Honestly, some people will fire you over even the tiniest episode of penile pugilism.
posted by an egg at 8:59 AM on July 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


Feeling in a whimsical mood I requested that the barista-maestro be allowed to exercise his most creative flights of fancy. He concocted an exquisite latte (made with penguin milk, of course, in the current fashion) dripped off a humming bird's beak into a oyster shell, sweetened with the tears of an Albanian virgin then stirred with a carbon-nanotube rod chilled to the exact temperature of a Cuban Tuesday morning. The caffeine was served on the side, the foam on the bottom, and the handle was, strangely, on the inside of the cup. My first sip was heaven, but the barista had a lingering doubt as to its perfection and seized if from me, casting it into the furnace he reserves for such imperfect concoctions. His second pass was if anything bolder still, distilling the drink through diamonds into a motorcycle helmet, and this one I was allowed to drink. I wept.
My date had a coffee.
posted by w0mbat at 9:08 AM on July 15, 2008 [22 favorites]


Murky Coffee vs. Teh Internet.
posted by ericb at 9:08 AM on July 15, 2008


Dick Punch is a dish best served over ice.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:08 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Do not fuck with our coffee, or we will punch you in your dick!!!!"

That's not creative. That's fabulously insane.


It's also a wretched misrepresentation of the truth.

Nobody threatened a customer with bodily harm for having bad taste... instead, in response to the customer's suggesting (on his blog) he would only return if he wanted to burn the place down, the shop owner (on *his* blog) "uninvited" the customer in a pretty direct way.

I've met Nick Cho. He's a passionate, if occasionally trash-talkin' guy. He's got a penchant for colorful language. He's also really that over-the-top and strong-willed about coffee... and good on him for it. It's guys like him that -- despite any of their personal foibles -- are pushing the leading edge of coffee quality and awareness.
posted by deCadmus at 9:12 AM on July 15, 2008


"It's also a wretched misrepresentation of the truth."

Have you ever considered the possibility that you take things too seriously? I'm asking.
posted by Ragma at 9:16 AM on July 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Too seriously? Never. ;)

It's just that there's absurdity enough to this whole thing already, it seems a little much to twist things further, ya know?
posted by deCadmus at 9:25 AM on July 15, 2008


Crappy customer service is a big pet peeve of mine. I say good for this guy.
And some great comments/stories in here that have been favorited...
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:37 AM on July 15, 2008


I'm going back to Folgers. This "coddled from seed to cup" shit is getting out of hand. Give me a fucking break.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:38 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's guys like him that -- despite any of their personal foibles -- are pushing the leading edge of coffee quality and awareness.

Pushing the leading edge of coffee quality and awareness!!

I just wanted that repeated.

Next topic: What if there are no goddamn eggs??
posted by applemeat at 9:59 AM on July 15, 2008


"It's just that there's absurdity enough to this whole thing already, it seems a little much to twist things further, ya know?"

Absurdity is the whole point. Of all of it. Murky has absurdly good coffee, they even say so. Right? Jeff is just a random guy who made an absurd blog post, even he says so. Right? MetaFilter is just a bunch of snarky strangers saying absurd things, we admit as much. Right?

The only time this gets stupid is when people take any of those things too seriously. If you are going to get your hand tailored virgin organic silk undergarments in a bunch over "absurd", Internet forums are likely not the best place for you.

So..... in context..... Taking me to task for saying something absurd about a coffee shop after they threaten to punch a customer in the penis following his request for iced coffee....... Well, that's just absurd.
posted by Ragma at 10:02 AM on July 15, 2008


It's guys like him that -- despite any of their personal foibles -- are pushing the leading edge of coffee quality and awareness...

...right over the cliff.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:37 AM on July 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


...with a beehive!
posted by Artw at 10:38 AM on July 15, 2008


Really, Ragma, I'm a fan of absurd. Not so much a fan of truthy.
posted by deCadmus at 10:45 AM on July 15, 2008


dude, here you go:

offer iced espresso, but, smaller cup. No room to pour milk in there. Now everyone's happy.

YO YOU GOT A PROBLEM, I'LL SOLVE IT CHECK OUT THE HOOK WHILE THE DJ REVOLVES IT.

Of course, the other option is to persist in your douchebagatitude, and Seth Godin will probably link to your story in an obvious blog post about how you fucked up, bad. Then you'll get handed the "NOTORIOUS BAD BOYZ OF COFFEE" title you so clearly covet, which might give you just enough street cred to change that "DAMN" in your slogan to "FUCK".

Check this, though: being a connoisseur of something? It only makes you cool if you're not fucking insufferable about it.
posted by fishfucker at 10:54 AM on July 15, 2008


wow, and i almost take that back*, because it's clear that the people at murky have a pretty good sense of humor and just happen to feel particularly strong about coffee. hmm. life is not always black and white -- i'm going to write that down in my little "lessons for the day" book.

* there's no footnote here
posted by fishfucker at 10:59 AM on July 15, 2008


Really, Ragma, I'm a fan of absurd. Not so much a fan of truthy.

And yet you're defending a guy who claimed, with a straight face, that "The only way I’m ever coming back to Murky Coffee in Arlington is if I’m carrying matches and a can of kerosene" is a "public threat of arson"? Come on.
posted by vorfeed at 11:34 AM on July 15, 2008


Any douchebag who refers to someone by a marketing-driven generational moniker loses.

Besides, you have your idiotic generational stereotypes wrong--Millennials are supposed to crave constant praise, whereas Gen Xers are supposed to be snotty and cynical.

And it's fucking creepy to tell us how good looking your partner is. Does she go online and tell everyone she's successful because you're so rich?
posted by sondrialiac at 12:11 PM on July 15, 2008


And yet you're defending a guy who claimed, with a straight face, that "The only way I’m ever coming back to Murky Coffee in Arlington is if I’m carrying matches and a can of kerosene" is a "public threat of arson"? Come on.

Um, I'm defending what?

I'd thought I was just stating the obvious: this thread (and the whole situation) is living in the state of Absurdistan, and requires no additional embellishment of the "facts" to make a point one way or another.

Nyah.
posted by deCadmus at 12:25 PM on July 15, 2008


Go Nick! I completely support the attitude that the customer is not always right.

I mean, really. Anyone who has ever worked for customers in any capacity knows that "The Customer is Always Right" is one of the world's Big Lies. Like "Poland attacked us!" "The check's in the mail!" and "There will be cake!"

From experience, no customer is ever always right. The very best customers, the absolute gold standard, are right more often than they're wrong, and are, when they're wrong, willing to cede that your specialized experience and judgement are the whole reason they're hiring you to do something for them in the first place, rather than just doing it themselves.

Some customers are occasionally right and at least not assholes when they're wrong.

Most customers are always wrong and will not ever realize or admit it.

So if you were going to make an accurate general rule, it would have to be "The customer is almost always wrong," which, for customer service professionals, is in fact what "The Customer is Always Right" means.

This would all have been better handled by the coffee shop guy simply saying "no" and repeating it till the customer left. Too bad it wasn't. But if I ran a shop and someone threatened to come and burn it down because my employee gave him what he wanted even though it was against the store policy, I'd happily offer to punch him in the dick too.

No, probably not. But I'd wish I had. Maybe after this I would. Hey, check out all the free publicity.
posted by rusty at 12:47 PM on July 15, 2008


But if I ran a shop and someone threatened to come and burn it down

He didn't do that.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:01 PM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some cafes don't serve iced coffee at all -- only iced Americanos. When ice rubs up next to ice cubes, things can sour, literally.

When ice rubs up next to ice cubes? what?

I'm a huge coffee type, drink a double espresso generally at particular coffee shops, was a barista (I am in Portland after all), but this ice-damage theory seems weird. How can it explain the deliciousness of Ca Phe Sua Da in pho joints?
posted by msalt at 1:01 PM on July 15, 2008


...this ice-damage theory seems weird. How can it explain the deliciousness of Ca Phe Sua Da in pho joints?

The sweetened, condensed milk masks any sourness.

There is some curious chemistry comes into play when some coffees (in my experience, dry-process and semi-washed coffees, in particular) meet ice. Odder still, sometimes you can take those same coffees and brew them directly onto ice (say you load a Chemex with ice cubes and brew straight onto them) and the sourness doesn't develop.

It's a head-scratcher.
posted by deCadmus at 1:31 PM on July 15, 2008


Taste is entirely subjective, and nobody gets to tell anybody else that their taste is "wrong". The barista coffee clerk did exactly that. If someone likes espresso on ice, that's their prerogative. Same goes for anyone who likes single malts with soda or chilled cabernet.
Murky Coffee aren't connoisseurs. Connoisseurs know precisely what they like. Knowing what other people should like just makes you a prick.
posted by rocket88 at 1:34 PM on July 15, 2008 [15 favorites]


Connoisseurs know precisely what they like. Knowing what other people should like just makes you a prick.

Yup, exactly.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:42 PM on July 15, 2008


There is some curious chemistry comes into play

Does anyone know a good chemical analysis of the difference between espresso and coffee (available online)? I've searched with no luck. It sure feels like a different animal though.
posted by msalt at 1:47 PM on July 15, 2008


"The customer is always right" was coined because it's a less gauche way to say "The customer is the person with the money and we'd like to get it from them." Obsessing about the word "right" in there is a diversion from the real purpose - doing what's necessary to separate the rube from his cash.
posted by phearlez at 1:51 PM on July 15, 2008


"There is some curious chemistry comes into play"

Which is the objective reason that Jeff doesn't like espresso poured over ice, even though he thinks he does.

"From experience, no customer is ever always right."

From experience, if someone likes espresso poured over ice, and they claim they like espresso poured over ice, they are, in fact, always right.

This doesn't come down to the customer being wrong. What it comes down to is Nick being a coffee Nazi. I can prove it. Let's say Jeff searches the earth for the best espresso poured over ice. He tries it in several countries even. He finds out that Murky coffee makes the best version anywhere. He compliments them, does a glowing review, tells all his friends. Bested espresso poured over ice anywhere. Suddenly Nick finds out about this and puts an end to it. They have a policy. It doesn't matter if its the best anywhere. They refuse to make it. No espresso poured over ice for you!!!!

Jeff isn't wrong. He carefully went out of his way to be right. it's just that Nick is a coffee Nazi. Which is fine. As many have mentioned, the fact that Nick is a coffee Nazi is a good thing.

So what did we learn?

1) Telling someone they can't have coffee might make them mad. People seem to really need coffee or something.

2) Telling a blogger you'll punch him in his penis will get you lots of free publicity.
posted by Ragma at 2:10 PM on July 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, how I wished I owned a coffee house in the D.C. area (one which paid it taxes and rent on time -- and one which never claimed that being $427,000 in arrears, accrued over a 24-month period, was due to "poor cash flow management," etc.).

Next week my café (yes, the accent aigu is intended to appeal to elites and hipsters alike) would have a special promotion:
Have coffee your way. Any way. 50% discount on all hot and cold beverages while the promotion lasts.

Note: we are a "penis punch-less" establishment. Special requests, however, can be accommodated. Ask your friendly barista for details.
posted by ericb at 3:53 PM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Murky Coffee has decided that they don't want the business of people who don't express a certain sort of appreciation for their coffee, fine by me. They lose those customers, which is probably fine by them.

Some restaurants won't let you in unless you're dressed nicely - they lose the business of poorly dressed potential customers, but they've made that choice and are aware of it.

Where does "I'm a customer and the business MUST do as I say!!" come into it? If a customer doesn't like something, he or she is welcome to leave. The business owners made their decision, why should they have to change it? Everyone in this situation knows their options, no use for the customer to whine about it: he can spend his money elsewhere.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:13 PM on July 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


I say this without sarcasm.

I have really enjoyed reading this discussion so far. Many of the comments have really made me think about how I could interact with people in a more productive and more respectful manner.
posted by Hicksu at 5:50 PM on July 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Some restaurants won't let you in unless you're dressed nicely - they lose the business of poorly dressed potential customers

The reason is, having nicely dressed customers improves their business. Makes it seem like a high-class, formal, respectable establishment, which means they can justify charging more for their products.

In this case, the declarations by the employee that they couldn't allow the customer to drink their drink the way they liked it, in a way that involved no extra work or cost to the business, doesn't do anything for the business. I can't imagine many customers, overhearing this incident, thinking "Oh wow, this place is really great, they don't let us put ice in our espresso! I'll have to come back more often!"
posted by Jimbob at 7:50 PM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


It may be bad for business. But it's still the businesses' prerogative to serve customers as they see fit. Plenty of businesses make decisions that lose them certain customers, (not a lot of vegetarian options? a funky/indie atmosphere instead of a quiet/yuppie one? amount of flair employees should have?) because they're going after a certain kind of customer.

If the customer doesn't like that, it's his prerogative to take his money elsewhere (and complain about the business to his friends/his blog/whatever.) And maybe the business will change. All of this "How DARE they!" outrage seems meh-worthy to me.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:34 PM on July 15, 2008


Wow, some of you people are overacting as much as the people you're complaining about!
posted by oxford blue at 8:39 PM on July 15, 2008


Wow, some of you people are overacting as much as the people you're complaining about!

Overthinking x [(Beans + Caffeine) + Snobbery] ÷ Poor Customer Experience = Exposure of Asshole Reputation for Purported Expertise on Coffee - [Failure to Realize that a One-Time Customer Request Might Tarnish your Own Arrogant Java Reputation].
posted by ericb at 9:09 PM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Their slogan is sexist.
posted by oddman at 9:13 PM on July 15, 2008


It's guys like him that -- despite any of their personal foibles -- are pushing the leading edge of coffee quality and awareness.

Re-revisited. Just because it should be the final statement, the thread's bottom line. Just because there may come a time, many generations hence, when sentient orb creatures from some distant Andromedan Eden arrive here and try to learn what happened to this grand and noble experiment. And if they come, then they will perchance happen upon this thread buried in some landfilled coil of metal somewhere, and even if they just like skim it with their wispy knowledge-osmotic appendages on their way to the precious indium seams three meters deeper in the pile, still they will know.

Despite the obvious signs of Armageddon, the curvilinear suburban boulevards yawning aimlessly to big-box chain-store nothingness, the hulking wrecks of internal-combusted self-immolation resting in great piles hither and yon - despite it all, someone tried. In the late aughts, just before The Fall, there were a brave few who said, yes, enough. Who were willing - nay compelled, as only heroes on sacred missions can be - compelled to act.

To push the leading edge of coffee quality and awareness.
posted by gompa at 10:53 PM on July 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


Gompa, your comment is beaded with flop-sweat. Here's why.

1. Everyone has done that joke already.

2. "Curvilinear boulevards" do not yawn aimlessly 'to' anything -- even ironically. If you're going to try for the 'it's hilarious because it's overwrought', then at least abide by the simple rules of the convention and get the grammar right.

3. Are you really posting snark about the worthlessness of idealistic integrity under a username that's the Tibetan word for monastery? Because if so, allow me to attempt to coin a new term -- eponysuibathetic -- which may be of service in this case.
posted by felix at 9:46 AM on July 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Where does "I'm a customer and the business MUST do as I say!!" come into it? If a customer doesn't like something, he or she is welcome to leave. The business owners made their decision, why should they have to change it? Everyone in this situation knows their options, no use for the customer to whine about it: he can spend his money elsewhere.

The problem with this reaction to the original situation is that they went ahead and took Jeff's money, THEN proceeded to be jerkbags about it. If we speak of your hypothetical restaurant with a dress code, this is more akin to allowing the jacket-less patron in, seating him, being snide when delivering the meal, then berating him after he pays the tab.

Whether you think Jeff's hyperbole and theater (which, having met him briefly and read his writing in the past, I presume to be a way to find a little fun in an annoying situation and get an amusing anecdote about it) is inappropriate or not, I think it's fair to say most of us expect the people who take our money in a service business to treat us with courtesy and not condescend to us. If you don't want my business I think it's not unreasonable for you to tell me so up front so we can all go on with our lives.
posted by phearlez at 1:48 PM on July 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Story's been picked up by the Washington Post without adding anything new except a little regret at the end.
posted by peeedro at 2:30 PM on July 16, 2008


Interestingly enough, Nick (murky's owner) was mentioned in this askme.

As for the kerfuffle, there's fault to be assigned to all parties involved.
posted by theclaw at 3:24 PM on July 16, 2008


"interwebs", "naughty words"? What the fuck is going on at the Washington Post?
posted by bonaldi at 4:26 PM on July 16, 2008


In the future if you try to pour your espresso over ice, you will be terminated by the barista.
posted by Tenuki at 6:51 PM on July 16, 2008


Yikes.

Getting a new job is a lot harder than finding another coffee shop. I'm with the barista on this one, and I think all coffee tastes like feet.
posted by Skorgu at 9:19 PM on July 16, 2008


The foodies over on Serious Eats mostly seem to side with the barista.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:28 AM on July 17, 2008


I can't find where someone upstream talked about using this as advertising for their own competitive shop, but it seems some other business has had the same idea.
posted by phearlez at 3:19 PM on July 17, 2008


Murky Coffee Barrista responds.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:22 PM on July 19, 2008


The other thing that's worth mentioning is that David, the barista in question, contrary to what many seem to believe, was NOT voicing his objection to the espresso over ice per se. He was admonishing him for his poor behavior toward the barista at the register, and toward our policy. Many have written me saying, "Once it's in the customer's hands, it's out of your hands." That's absolutely true. David was telling the customer that it wasn't okay that he'd act-out to the staff the way he was.

Ding ding ding.
posted by bonaldi at 10:54 AM on July 20, 2008


Isn't this just another expression of liberalism vs conservative paternalism (i.e. he has a right to order what he wants, so long as it doesn't 'hurt anyone' vs an institution/authority figure knows best.) Is it not instructive (well, at least interesting) to look at peoples answers and imagine where they sit along this rough sort of ideological spectrum?
posted by oxford blue at 5:53 AM on July 21, 2008


Is it not instructive...
Not really; you're begging the question with your phrasing. The barista and the coffee shop have an equal right to serve the products they wish to serve as long as it doesn't 'hurt anyone' vs the institution/authority figure of consumerism knowing best (the customer is always right, the barista's job is to serve me what I order, etc).
posted by Skorgu at 7:33 AM on July 21, 2008


That's not the barista, David, that's owner Nick Cho again. It would be a lot easier to take it seriously if it was David rather than Nick, who here wants to back off and claim that his "punch you in the dick" was always meant as metaphorically as Jeff's "kerosene and matches" statement. Maybe it was, but he comes off disingenuous when he claims to have been shocked that anyone ever took it any other way.

As far as a "ding ding ding" over David supposedly telling the customer that it wasn't cool to act-out the way he was - rather than what he was about to do - we've not heard any alternate telling of the lead-up to this other than Jeff's telling, which didn't include any outburst from him - only a sneak-around of the iced espresso limit by asking for espresso and a separate cup of ice.

Doesn't mean it didn't happen differently, but it is somewhat difficult to reconcile with them actually taking his money and order. If he was abusive up front, why didn't they just tell him to hit the bricks? Why didn't Carl, the unconnected witness, make any note of an outburst at the cash register portion of the incident?

No matter what you think of anyone's behavior, Jeff's version makes sense when you connect the dots. Nick's has gaps.
posted by phearlez at 2:30 PM on July 21, 2008


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