I suppose this all depends on how snooty / particular / loving you are about your coffee. But it isn’t just about coffee, so please do read on.
So, a guy walks into a coffeeshop in Arlington. Over the water in the United States. The coffeeshop is apparently locally renowned for being Very Serious About Coffee. Just my kind of place, really, and everything that Starbuck’s isn’t. He wanders up to the bar, and orders a triple espresso. Poured over ice.
(Here, I have to explain that pouring espresso over ice destroys the crema, that brown greamy goo that sits on the surface. Inside the brown creamy goo are many, many, many of the flavour and smell elements of your little shot of caffeinated delight. Sorry.)
The barista apologises. Explains that it’s against their store policy to ice espresso. The guy fumes, and orders a triple espresso and a cup of ice separately. Pours one over the other. Gets warned that it will lead to a less-than-enjoyable drink. Becomes insulting. Isn’t thrown out, has another drink made for him (as he says, perfectly delicious) a bit later.
Then, he leaves a tip of one dollar with “FUCK YOU AND YOUR PRECIOUS COFFEE POLICY” scrawled on it.
Many interesting questions rear their heads here. One: who’s in the right? Unanswerable. Two: who’s in the wrong? Slightly more clear — the guy, for that insult. Third: does his dollar give him the right to demand anything from a coffeeshop that advises its customers that it doesn’t serve just anything?
I think it says a lot about the wider differences between the work ethic in his country and my country. Here, receiving a paycheck does not mean that you must put up with any shit thrown your way. Indeed, you may highlight important points about your products and policies to customers using your store, or tell off your boss (and, indeed, your customers) for saying something rude to you.
In the States, I get the impression, when you cash your paycheck you sign a lot of your rights away in a very real sense, and your customers (who, I might add, are also employees themselves and should remember their own workaday miseries when about to open their mouths to others) are practically to be treated as if they are on the same level as god. No space for human interplay in a 10-hour workday. No space for you. Or me. Just the wallet and the product.
I won’t harp on the injustices here, or on my distant admiration for the barista and coffeeshop concerned. I will just say this again, though: in their unashamed dedication to an excellent cup of coffee, they appear to be everything that Starbuck’s isn’t.
(Also, lookee here!)
Update: the coffeeshop owner has commented (in a, well... very fiery manner!) on the issue here.