Monday, July 14, 2008

Vantage Point

Via BoingBoing. Those more literate than myself are refering to this as a real-life Rashomon moment - I'll admit that I had to look up what the hell they were talking about, but I'm a doofus.

First Jeff tried to order what he wants from the Murky Coffee in Arlington and when the barista snootily won't let him have it his way, he creates his own solution to the problem, makes a bit of a scene and then blogs about it.

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.””

Then we hear from Carl, another patron who was at the Murky at the time, writing in his own blog.

After the customer left the counter, the barista was fuming and told his coworker, “I almost told that guy not to come back.”

Thanks, Nick, for hiring such helpful young people who uphold basic tenets of customer service. Where would the world be if customers could get what they wanted? This young fellow did a good job protecting the ignorant customer from cold espresso.

Barista guy - get over it. It’s just coffee, not a matter of safety or health, and the guy knows how he wants it.

Of course, Nick, the owner of the Murky, has to get his two cents in on the store blog:

Okay, we don't do espresso over ice. Why? Number one, because we don't do it. Number two, because we don't do it. Mostly for quality reasons. Also, because more than half the time, it's abused (Google "ghetto latte").


No modifications to the Classic Cappuccino. No questions will be answered about the $5 Hot Chocolate (during the months we offer it). No espresso in a to-go cup. No espresso over ice. These are our policies. We have our reasons, and we're happy to share them.

There's much more, including comments in some of the above blogs from additional vantage points and Jeff's stupid comment about coming back with kerosine and matches (not smart to even joke about) being taken as a threat by Nick. Gotta say that I'm with Carl. It's just coffee. But then I delight in going into Starbucks and insisting on ordering small, medium or large. What the fuck is a "vente" anyway - is that medium or large? Why should I have to remember that? It's just coffee.

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At 12:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The part that I get confused about this story is where the service cares about what the customer does with the drink after it's been served. As long as the customer doesn't use the drink to mess up the store or scald someone, it shouldn't matter *at all* what's done with it.

The server was just being confrontational after handing over the drink.

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Lex Alexander said...

[[Okay, we don't do espresso over ice. Why? Number one, because we don't do it. Number two, because we don't do it.]]

Summary judgment for the plaintiff. "Just because" is not a valid argument for grownups talking to anyone over the age of 4. Yeesh.

At 2:05 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

The way that I understand it, it all boils down to pricing structure and how things are rung up. The pricing structure at coffee bars is entirely too complicated. Customers are beginning to sense that it is also just a wee bit deceptive - whether or not that's the case. Furthermore, on the barista side, there's the LP (loss prevention) issue which puts them under scrutiny and hampers their ability to respond to customer wishes.

(None of which explains why, when I go into a full-service restaurant and ask for an iced coffee, I am often told that the restaurant doesn't "do" coffee drinks! It's coffee...and ice. Any bartender knows how to do this without breaking the glass.)

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Lex Alexander said...

On the rare occasions when I have an after-dinner drink in a restaurant, I always order the same thing: black coffee with a shot of Kahlua in it. Even Starbucks couldn't mess that up (although I'd probably have to supply the Kahlua).


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