Iced Espresso, anyone?

Author: george Posted: July 14, 2008

Jeff Simmermon wrote it on his site.  boingboing picked it up on theirs.  John found and twittered it.  I read it.  I spotted Nick’s response on murkycoffee’s site.  Now you have it.  

Enjoy.  We laughed quite a bit at both posts, and it’s getting more blown out of proportion as the minutes go by.

(read in order of listing.)

Jeff Simmermon 
Nick/Murky Coffee 

Be sure to check out the comment on the post that Nick wrote, as it’s an extension of his post.


8 Responses to “Iced Espresso, anyone?

  1. Todd Sieling says:

    The link to the Murky blog is broken.

    But, I had read both of these last night, and it seems like a collision of lameness. On the one side, there apparently is signage saying that Murky doesn’t do espresso over ice, or something to that effect. Asking for it in that context really is asking for it.

    On the other, the barista is nothing more than an emo policy thug. Instead of explaining why the policy was there, all he could do is be a moralizing inarticulate jackass to the customer. There’s a reason behind the policy, but he couldn’t articulate it because he was too busy condemning. Then we have the Murkys response from Nick, who musters the finest vintage emo ennui to respond, and finishes with schoolyard finesse. His followup post explaining the reason behind the policy is actually interesting, but it’s undercut so badly by his childish reply that it doesn’t matter, in the end.

    I had something like this, though far less intense happen at O Cafe a few years ago when I was still pretty new to any kind of decent coffee, where the owner flipped out on my head over a request for a long shot. He wouldn’t explain why, he just kept almost-yelling that it was wrong. Finally I got him to explain why, he did, I agreed, he made what he thought would be good and by god, it was great. But I didn’t need the frantic clown show to convince me.

    Thank god there are baristas who are able to communicate and explain things, and even be helpful and friendly about it though that last part is rare, with many preferring to looking brooding and intense about their craft. Good coffee without good service is just technically good coffee, lacking soul or connection with the people it’s made for. That this is lost on more than a few baristas is kinda sad.

  2. John says:

    Picked this out of the comments from another bloggers post that happened to be in the cafe at the same time.

    “Some coffee shops pride themselves on their consistent quality. If they choose not to allow poorly made coffee to pass their counter top, that should be respected.

    You don’t ask a sushi chef to put ketchup on your nigiri. You don’t ask a fashion designer to embroider minnie-mouse on your shirt, just because that’s ‘how you want it.’ You’re offending them and their standards. Some view making coffee as an art, just like photography, cooking, writing, etc.”

    I agree. Though, with coffee, being as ubiquitous as it is, your always going to run into customers who don’t understand this kind of quality control. There’s millions of places all over the world who will give you what you want, however you want, it’s no surprise a customer would react this way.

  3. graham says:

    Ehh, I can see the point about a sushi chef or fasion designer, but only to a point. Most people don’t eat sushi every day (or multiple times per day). Most people don’t buy couture clothing every day (or multiple times per day). However, if you buy the sushi and put mustard on it or buy the dress and sew an animal on it, that is your perogative. The creator might not like it, but they probably won’t deny your money.

    Coffee (as much as we hate to deny it and there is some validity to the denials) is a commodity which people consume multiple times per day. As much as the barista wants to maintain quality control, it’s a consumable product that has been bought and paid for and the consumer should be able to prepare it as they see fit.

    Also, let’s just call it what it is… pretension, very annoying pretension. Enjoy your customers that order drinks in the way you agree with, but also serve the others happily. Life is too short to bicker over this stuff and retail business is too hard to be turning away customers.

  4. Jeremy says:

    The owners response is golden, “Q. The customer is always right
    Yeah, that’s true. Actually, nevermind. It’s bullshit.
    Every customer is a welcome guest. But even welcome guests can overstep their bounds, and demanding that we give you something that we say that we can’t or won’t is overstepping your bounds for sure.”
    Speaking as a relitive novice in understanding coffee I would be more intrested in learning why Mucky wouldn’t serve it in that method, which is again covered in the owners post.

    While the “ghetto latte” reason is fairly compelling in and of it’s self, even learning that Q. What’s wrong with “espresso over ice?”
    Answer: Espresso is a fairly volatile thing, and when it hits ice, it seems to go through a chemical change that we can’t fully explain (and I haven’t seen a good explanation within our industry quite yet). It does appear to have something to do with ascorbic acid, but when we make our iced americanos (espresso + water + ice), we pour the shots into room-temperature water before adding the ice. Believe it or not, it does make a difference. Pouring espresso over ice creates unpleasantly acrid flavors.” Would have made me want to try both methods to discover for myself.

    In the end, what I think the best part of all of this is? The sound bite, or the poster.

    “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.

    Great stuff haha

  5. Anth says:

    Ever worry that this is the predominant view that a lot of people have of specialty baristas? That the attitude overshadows the coffee? (Honest question, this whole thing has me on the fence).

  6. Murray says:

    This whole situation is embarrassing to me. I wish these kinds of coffee shops would get over themselves and treat the customer as if they’re the lifeblood of the business.

  7. Todd Sieling says:

    > The owners response is golden, “Q. The customer is always right
    Yeah, that’s true. Actually, nevermind. It’s bullshit.

    What’s also funny is that the owner takes the inverse attitude: we dont’ sell it because we don’t. It’s the other side of the same coin.

  8. Dale Sundstrom says:

    Murky’s owner has now admited the policy is NOT about the coffee.

    In a discussion with me in the forums on CoffeeGeek, Nick Cho admitted that the main objective for the “no icing espresso” policy was not “Mostly for quality reasons” (the coffee), as he originally claimed, but to discourage the abuse of complimentary dairy products.

    Setting policies for stuff like this just prevents your employees from using and developing their own good judgment and communication skills. Coffee and customer are both important; choosing one at the expense of the other is foolish and unnecessary.

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