When Coffee Snobs Attack

Categories: Kaffee Klatsch

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It was on my 6 a.m. train ride to work that I discovered with delight Sprudge's takedown of my last post, "How Not To Order Espresso." Sprudge, which I'd never heard of but admittedly now enjoy, is a site that focuses on coffee news and miscellany--and, apparently, writes critiques of other publications' coffee-related items. The meat of Sprudge's argument was that, being in the food service industry, baristas are meant to smile and silently suffer the indulgences of even the fussiest customers. "You're in the service industry!"--they write--"Your job is to serve, honey." They go on, telling me not to "queen out on behalf of the coffee industry." They were then kind enough to offer me a $100 check as incentive to quit coffee for good, which, given what I've done for less, is quite generous.

If the retweets of the article--mostly from baristas who commented with things like "RIGHT ON!!" or "take the $100 from @Sprudge and get out of coffee. You're making us all look bad and it sucks"--are any indication, more people than just the Sprudge dudes felt very strongly about my need to get out of the biz. Clearly my opinion, and Sprudge's subsequent response to it, had aggravated some people--people who need to take a long look into their perfectly pulled ristretto and realize it's something we ultimately end up pissing down a drain.

The Sprudge guys and others who fetishize coffee while publicly condescending to those who don't are curators of the worst kind of customer service, one too highbrow for most people to stomach. A disappointing air of elitism has stifled café culture, and has scared most everyday customers from deviating from the norm, causing them to stick to drip or cold brew or lattes for fear of being scoffed at when asking for the details of something less common, such as a flat white. That's the kind of pompous customer service that makes baristas look bad. My poking fun at guys who take 10 minutes to decide between a Guatemalan or Costa Rican pourover doesn't really do any harm. It just makes the grind all that more bearable.

So, unfortunately for Sprudge, I've got to reject the $100 check. I'll continue quietly condescending to those who themselves insist on being condescending, while trying to charm a dollar here and there from the kind of customers I like: the ones who couldn't give a damn about tasting notes of fig, and just want their coffee done right, and done well.

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9 comments
tdnoble
tdnoble

Commandment #1: Don't sass the clientele.

Be happy to talk about your product. If you're not, it may have something to do with the fact that you're not confident in your skills, and you get all fidgety and embarrassed about it. There are great classes for that. 

the "Curators of the worst kind of customer service" are the service people that chide or deride their customers, but I applaud your ability to actually be the meme of the "elitist barista snob" while then writing a diatribe attacking same. Huzzah.

You, as a service professional, literally get paid to put up with that.  

Take the check. 

 

cherechere
cherechere

"Sprudge" has clearly never worked in the industry. Sure, we baristas love our job most of the time. We "want to be there". But when you're serving hundreds of nice, respectful people who just want a nice hot drink to wake them up and then someone comes in, holds up the line, and TESTS your espresso knowledge just to (put frankly) be an ass....yeah, you get a little annoyed. If you genuinely aren't sure and want to know my opinion I will GLADLY tell you what I think. But I agree 10000% with Shane, don't come in just to brag about being able to taste a hint of oak. Dear god.

evanskyle1
evanskyle1

I hate to do this but I have to side with sprudge. I would hope my baristas would love to talk about coffee especially with the people who pay their bills. Honestly I don't know that I understand the point of your "article". Are you mad at your clientel for liking coffee, or are you just mad that you have customer complaints? Very strange article. I feel like your article could be read like a yelp posting, something that means absolutely nothing but for some reason you feel so impowered by your new iDevice that you couldn't just say nothing. Anyways, just take the $100 and leave the baristaing to the people who want to be there.

CoffeeZen
CoffeeZen

My philosophy is that life is too short to (a) drink bad coffee (b) be a coffee snob.

It's all about personal preference.  I'd prefer to enjoy the simple pleasures coffee brings rather than to take it too seriously.  

swag
swag

Food fights are a lot more fun with food than with coffee.

_206
_206

@ForkintheRoadVV Love it. It's not as thrilling as being an asshole, but if you're so particular make your own! ty down to earth barista!

nonteentitan
nonteentitan

@ForkintheRoadVV My question re: @sprudge rebuttal would be "Who the f**k is Llewellyn S and why is this person using 'queen out' in rebut?"

sprudge
sprudge

@ForkintheRoadVV @shanekealoha but we already printed the $100 oversized novelty check!

shanekealoha
shanekealoha

@sprudge @ForkintheRoadVV I'll still take the check, for good time funsies.

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