Espresso fascism

| Comments (4) | Food
I'm a man of simple tastes in coffee, but if I were one of those people who liked their drinks a little more frou-frou, I'd need to stay away from Murky Coffee in Arlington, VA. Here's Jeff Simmermon's tale of being denied an iced espresso:
I just ordered my usual summertime pick-me-up: a triple shot of espresso dumped over ice. And the guy at the counter looked me in the eye with a straight face and said "I'm sorry, we can't serve iced espresso here. It's against our policy."

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.

"Okay," I said, "I'll have a triple espresso and a cup of ice, please."

He rolled his eyes and rang it up, took my money, gave me change. I stood there and waited. Then the barista called me over to the bar. I reached for it, and he leaned over and locked his eyes with mine, saying "Hey man. What you're about to do ... that's really, really Not Okay."

I could hear the capital letters in his voice, could see the gravity of the situation in his eyes.

He continued: "This is our store policy, to preserve the integrity of the coffee. It's about the quality of the drink, and diluting the espresso is really not cool with us. So I mean, you're going to do what you're going to do, and I can't stop you, but"

I interrupted. "You're goddamned right you can't stop me," I said. "I happen to have a personal policy that prohibits me from indulging stupid bullshit like this -- and another personal policy of doing what I want with the products I pay for." Then I looked him right in his big wide eyes and poured the espresso onto the ice.

Check out the comments on the blog post for a lot of comments, both by supporters and opponents of Simmermon, including a message from the owner of Murky Coffee threatening to "punch you [Simmermon] in your dick." Outstanding!


If you've never sold coffee, this story sounds more bizarre that it really is.

Cheap people sometimes buy espresso over ice, and then fill the cup with a large amount of milk from the condiment bar. This can result in a loss for the store: not just a lost sale of an iced latte, but revenue less than the cost of ingredients. The milk trick, not the espresso over ice, was the Not Okay part the barista was expecting, even if it never crossed this customer's mind.

A similar rationale is being used by Intelligentsia here in Chicago, who recently got rid of their 20oz coffee size. They actually said they didn't want to be a "caffeine delivery system". Hello?
Allegedly, various forms of cream and sugar wastage were intermingled...that part remains unclear.

Dom: Easy solution? A small cup.

Easy solution? A small cup.

For when the shop owner tries to punch your dick, yes!

Iced drinks don't work in paper cups because condensation makes the outside wet. So you'd need to stock small plastic cups, and matching lids, just for this relatively rare order. Sure, it's a problem that can be solved if the owner wants to solve it, and this particular shop owner is being a complete idiot, but the barista was more likely concerned about the milk loss, not the purity of the espresso.

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