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Worth the abuse?

February 01, 2012


I live very close to San Franciso just on the other side of bridge almost, and monthly I get 7x7 SF. It's a magazine just highlighting things happening in the city, and since San Francisco has a pretty vibrant coffee scene they tend to have a an article or two about coffee in every issue and the current one was no different.



Now unfortunately try as I might they do not have the article online at their website, it appears they wait to upload articles from the magazine to the website, I guess to give us paying customers an advantage. However, the article talks about how being treated badly has become the norm at a lot of boutique resturants, bars and coffee shops.



The author of the piece starts off by giving her example of an experience she had at a local coffee shop when ordering a Gibraltar. A Gibraltar is a kind of small cappa that was popularized by Blue Bottle that named the drink after the name of the glass they serve it in. Anyway, she goes on to say that she was not at Blue Bottle and the barista retorts her saying oh you mean a small short wet cap. Not questioning, but tell her in a sort of unpleased mood. The sad thing about the service was the author asked for the coffee to go and almost expected to be told that she couldn't have it that way. But alas she was not asked to stay. The point is she was treated this way after already waiting in a long line to get her coffee fix and then treated badly, and expected it.



There have been some posts here and a lot of talk about coffee shops treating people badly if they order wrong, just google barista video and I am sure the one from Funny or Die will come up paradying the event of ordering coffee.



I know this is old hat, but specialty coffee has come a long way and is spreading, just look at the locations of the roasters on this site! However, this type of service still seems to be prevelant and it really does have to stop in my opinion because while this might be acceptable or at least tolerable by some of coffee fiends, it's not for others.



What I found interesting in the article however, was a talk the author had with owner/founder of Four Barrel Coffee Jeremey Tooker about the service at coffee bars. He said that some of it has a lot to do with being successful at something at a young age (he was 26 when he founded Ritual Coffee Roasters) and that being instantly successful like a lot of these coffee roasters have become goes to the ego a bit. As he ages he has changed his attitude to making sure that his baristas know how to intereact better with their customers.



The comments he made strike me as something that is really genuine as oppose to trying to skirt around the issue, but addressing it full on that there is a bit of problem with barista interaction and I like what he is doing about.



That said I have had a lot of experience at shops and it seems to me that alot of it has to do with the particular shop. I have gone to some well known roasters where one location might have the most arrogant awful baristas, but another location is the complete opposite. So I imagine that alot of this has to do with the management of the store and what they think is acceptable. As coffee starts getting more store managers that were part of other industries at one time I imagine this will change a lot so perhaps this is just a bad joke that we can make but don't encounter.






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