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Coffee Shop refuses to serve espresso over ice


slkinsey
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http://www.andiamnotlying.com/2008/murky-c...een-your-knees/

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.”

Interesting conflict. On the one hand, I applaud the coffee shop for insisting on high standards. On the other hand, it's a coffee shop, not Le Bernadin, and this is an order that they could reasonably predict would be made. It's a bit like a high-end cocktail bar refusing to mix a Cosmopolitan. Maybe you don't like it, but suck it up and figure out a way to make an iced espresso (Cosmo, etc.) that's up to your standards.

Thoughts?

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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This topic has been running for a few years on coffee dedicated boards, and is two-fold.

1. The "espresso is volatile, you have to enjoy it immediately." and, "think of the farmers, how many people have toiled for you to enjoy that coffee for a mere $2."

A valid point, but you could argue then that they should also refuse to serve cream, sugar, and a host of other condiments then. For that matter, any ice. And the menu would probably only have about 4 items on it. (Espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, black coffee.)

You could take that stance: but unless you've got a long list of accolades behind you (I'm talking Cafe Europa style accolades here, not "voted best espresso by jimmy's grandma") you'd probably soon be in the bread line.

2. The ghetto-iced-latte.

This started about 3 years back, where people would start ordering espresso on ice, then walk to the condiment stand, fill it up with milk, and walk out with an iced latte, saving all of a buck. Some retailers countered by not serving espresso on ice at all, some by refusing to put it in any cup bigger than x size. And some called people out, as Murky seems to have.

Last, of course Starbucks will give you anything you want. They're in the business of service, not greatness.

Barrett Jones - 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

Dwell Time - my coffee and photography site

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I think one can maintain high standards and accommodate the occasional deviation from them to ensure that the customer enjoys themselves. I am always put off by, for example, the chefs who make a big deal about not cooking beef beyond a certain point -- fell free to suggest that the diner/drinker would enjoy themselves more if their order was prepared a certain way, but don't try to dictate their taste to them. I haven't been to Le Bernadin, but I have in the past found that even restaurants of the highest caliber (including a couple in which I worked) will gladly make reasonable accommodations -- even if the chef and waiters are rolling their eyes and gleefully trashing the Barbarian at table 6 back in the kitchen.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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http://www.andiamnotlying.com/2008/murky-c...een-your-knees/

Interesting conflict.  On the one hand, I applaud the coffee shop for insisting on high standards.  On the other hand, it's a coffee shop, not Le Bernadin, and this is an order that they could reasonably predict would be made.  It's a bit like a high-end cocktail bar refusing to mix a Cosmopolitan.  Maybe you don't like it, but suck it up and figure out a way to make an iced espresso (Cosmo, etc.) that's up to your standards.

Thoughts?

Iced espresso is not the java equivalent of a Cosmo.

The coffee shop's policy is ridiculous; iced espresso is not an affront to humanity. An Americano is even worse - it's got ice AND water in it.

I understand the need for coffee shops (small, independent ones especially) to make money, and if their concern is people filling their cups up with milk instead of buying/paying for the latte, they should just say that. I've been "guilty" of drinking iced espresso from time to time. When my local shop (Joe) told me that people go use the milk on their own, I told them that I understood and would not be doing that. I'm pleased to report that we're all still on good terms, even though I ordered an iced espresso. (Hot espresso/coffee when it's 85 degrees out baffles me.)

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You can read the coffee shop owner's response here.

An excerpt:

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.

Somewhat similarly, when we make our iced coffee, we go through the trouble of brewing it double-strength directly onto ice. If you brew coffee normally and then pour the hot coffee over ice, it results in unpleasant flavors. Making iced-coffee the way that we do seems to preserve a lot of the unique flavors from the coffees we're brewing (unlike the popular "Toddy" method of cold-brewing for iced coffee), and yields a great drink overall. Again, not entirely sure why the different technique yields such different results, but it does. If we put the coffee through two slits, it'd probably act all confusingly then too.

The second and more mundane reason has to do with the infamous "ghetto latte." More than half of the customers who we gave "iced espresso" to (back before our now infamous policy) would take that cup to the condiment bar and pour 8-14 ounces of milk out of the dairy pitcher, effectively taking advantage of a perceived loophole in the "system." Just as buying a cup of coffee doesn't entitle you to take a pound's worth of sugar packets home with you to put into your jar at home, this "ghetto latte" practice was pretty disheartening and distracting to the baristas. Call it our "infield fly rule," but "no espresso over ice" became our policy in 2006.

Edited by emmalish (log)

I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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This topic has been running for a few years on coffee dedicated boards, and is two-fold.

1. The "espresso is volatile, you have to enjoy it immediately." and, "think of the farmers, how many people have toiled for you to enjoy that coffee for a mere $2."

. . .

This argument is about the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. The farmers are owed appropriate wages for their work. When I purchase an espresso, my money contributes to those wages. That's what I owe the farmers, and that's all I owe the farmers.

I do not "owe" it to them to drink the espresso at a particular temperature, out of a specific type of cup, from a specific color of cup, on a particular day of the week, or while standing on one foot.

Somebody on those boards needs to get a life, with or without a cup of coffee, with or without ice or cream or sugar.

Do I detect a whiff of OCD here? :biggrin:

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The Owner's response now appears to have been edited:

To Mr. Simmermon, you overplayed your hand with your vulgar tip-schtick. While I certainly won't bemoan you your right to free-speech, I have to respond to you in your own dialect: F*@k you, Jeff Simmermon. Considering your public threat of arson, you'll understand when I say that if you ever show your face at my shop, I'll punch you in your dick.

Respectfully,

Nick

Owner, murky coffee

I really like this Nick. :wub:

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Actually, I think both of them mishandled this. It's absolutely brain-dead to explain the reason for not doing something as simple as indulging a perfectly reasonable request as "store policy".

My response would be, should I consider this a particularly misguided request, "well, we've found that adding the espresso to a little bit of room-temperature water before adding it to the ice, rather than letting it hit the ice directly... would you mind trying it our way?"

Ghetto latte? Come on. Besides, the east coast affection for using milk instead of half and half (or whole cream) is a bigger travesty.

It sounds like the customer's behavior veers obnoxious, but even so, it's always better to defuse a situation with an explanation, rather than using the copout "company policy. Nuttin' we can do."

Edited by JasonTrue (log)

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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I'm completely on the owner's side in this one. I don't know where all this 'everyone has a right to whatever they want' syndrome came from, but Simmermon does not have a right to his espresso on ice in murky coffee. If he doesn't like it, leave, and never come back. But the owner has a right to refuse service or refuse to serve specific items for whatever reason he likes. It's his business. If he sinks because of his decisions, so be it. That's his right.

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I am disgusted with the use of the term "ghetto latte". He can keep his steenking coffee. :hmmm:

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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I'm completely on the owner's side in this one.  I don't know where all this 'everyone has a right to whatever they want' syndrome came from, but Simmermon does not have a right to his espresso on ice in murky coffee.  If he doesn't like it, leave, and never come back.  But the owner has a right to refuse service or refuse to serve specific items for whatever reason he likes.  It's his business.  If he sinks because of his decisions, so be it.  That's his right.

There used to be a place in Old City Philadelphia where the chef owner would not serve the chicken entree to any more than one person at a table for four. He wanted tables to experience the gamut of his wonderful cooking. Key words are "used to be."

The owner is the south end of a mule heading north.

Where's Jack Nicholson. "I'll take an iced coffee, hold the coffee, and my friend will have a double espresso."

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm in agreement with Mike.

What our so-called culture is lacking is tradition and/or discipline, especially the sort that benefits. We have it our way and it's a rather sloppy, self-indulgent way.

How about switching to a Shakerato? You'll be glad you did!

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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I'm completely on the owner's side in this one.  I don't know where all this 'everyone has a right to whatever they want' syndrome came from, but Simmermon does not have a right to his espresso on ice in murky coffee.  If he doesn't like it, leave, and never come back.  But the owner has a right to refuse service or refuse to serve specific items for whatever reason he likes.  It's his business.  If he sinks because of his decisions, so be it.  That's his right.

There used to be a place in Old City Philadelphia where the chef owner would not serve the chicken entree to any more than one person at a table for four. He wanted tables to experience the gamut of his wonderful cooking. Key words are "used to be."

The owner is the south end of a mule heading north.

Where's Jack Nicholson. "I'll take an iced coffee, hold the coffee, and my friend will have a double espresso."

I'm not saying it's a fantastic business decision... although I'm also not saying it isn't.

My point is that regardless of how successful it makes the owner, it's the owner's prerogative to run his business however he chooses (within the bounds of the law, of course). If that puts him out of business, so be it, but I'll be the last person to tell him he has to sell his product in a way he believes disparages the quality of it.

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I'm in agreement with Mike. 

What our so-called culture is lacking is tradition and/or discipline, especially the sort that benefits.  We have it our way and it's a rather sloppy, self-indulgent way.

How about switching to a Shakerato?  You'll be glad you did!

Whoa whoa whoa... I don't agree with this statement at all. This "sloppy, self-indulgent way" is the Melting Pot we're here for. Sometimes freedom leads people to make decisions you may not agree with. But it also allows you to make decisions for yourself that may ultimately make you very happy. There are upsides and downsides, and while I may not agree with the customer's decisions in this case, I respect his right to like iced espresso, just not to enjoy it at murky's.

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A coffee shop should stress quality. It also needs to stress hospitality. Gently educating a customer is a service. Refusing to serve a customer making a reasonable request is stupid.

One wonders about the management's motivation in this sort of thing. Is it a noble crusade or is it a power trip, an ego running amok?

A coffee shop owner has an inalienable right to stupidity. But there have to be less piddling issues upon which to invest one's stupidity.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I agree that my personal preference would be that they act hospitably, but I'm still sticking with the notion that it may not be a universal preference, and it certainly isn't this owner's preference. Different strokes...

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Here's what I don't get: It seems that the coffee shop could clearly have anticipated that there would be certain requests that, for whatever reason, they did not want to serve. Espresso on ice is one of them. So is serving quadruple espresso with a cup of ice on the side.

An easy way to remedy this, I would think, is to simply say that the store does not give out cups of ice and does not sell drinks that are not on the menu. Something like this ensues:

Customer: "Gimme a quadruple iced espresso."

Barista: "I'm sorry, we don't sell iced espresso. We're happy to make anything on our menu for you. Perhaps an iced Americano?"

Customer: "Okay. How about you give me a quadruple espresso and a cup of ice on the side?"

Barista: "I'm sorry, we don't give out cups of ice. Store policy. Listen, if you like iced espresso I bet you'll really love our iced Americano. I can make it with four shots for you. We think it's way better than iced espresso. Tell you what -- if you don't like it, it's on the house."

Now, if the customer's response in line 2 is an expletive-laden diatribe, well then he's the one being a douchebag. All the barista has to do is stay calm and stick to his guns.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Barista: "I'm sorry, we don't give out cups of ice.  Store policy.  Listen, if you like iced espresso I bet you'll really love our iced Americano.  I can make it with four shots for you.  We think it's way better than iced espresso.  Tell you what -- if you don't like it, it's on the house."

How about a glass of ice water then, hold the water?

If the place has cups and the place has ice, a store policy of no cups of ice to a paying customer doesn't cut it. Wouldn't even both me if it was a couple, and the person not getting the quadruple espresso was pouring him/herself a glass of celery tonic purchased across the street into my cup of ice.

Hospitality should always triumph over non-essential policies.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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You can read the coffee shop owner's response here.

An excerpt:

Q. What's wrong with "espresso over ice?"

... Pouring espresso over ice creates unpleasantly acrid flavors.

I *like* the acrid flavor of espresso poured over ice. I prefer my americano made by dumping the shots on top of lots of ice and then topping up with water. Add some raw sugar and milk without stirring, sip through a straw so you get alternating slugs of sweet and bitter - yum! I think the real reason is that the owner is trying to preserve his milk supply. But even if he gives away the milk, I suspect he is not losing money or at least not as much as he is losing by being a pompous whatever.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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I was getting a coffee in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, and noticed a sign on the register that said, "No espresso to go, bro". So I asked why, I was hoping for the flavor over the "enviroment" answer, and they talked about the cups giving off a woody smell, and the crema soaking into the paper, ect. He seemed a bit exasperated while giving the speech, like people ask why ALL the freaking time.

But I applaud them for sticking to their guns. Espresso is so much better out of a demitasse. And for the love of all things holy is anybody really so busy that they can't take the 30 seconds-1min it takes to have a civilized espresso?

Toby

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just got around to asking a couple of the baristas at Philadelphia's La Colombe is they serve iced espresso. They do - "If a customer wants it..." Beyond that they pointed me to a sign on the counter advertising an iced espresso drink - ice, a layer of sweet condensed milk and topped with espresso.

Those outside of Philadelphia, and perhaps New York City, may not be familiar with La Colombe. For me, La Colombe is the gold standard for both coffee cafes and baristas.

One question, why are male espresso drawers not referred to as baristos, or are they??

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Just got around to asking a couple of the baristas at Philadelphia's La Colombe is they serve iced espresso.  They do - "If a customer wants it..."  Beyond that they pointed me to a sign on the counter advertising an iced espresso drink - ice, a layer of sweet condensed milk and topped with espresso.

Those outside of Philadelphia, and perhaps New York City, may not be familiar with La Colombe.  For me, La Colombe is the gold standard for both coffee cafes and baristas.

One question,  why are male espresso drawers not referred to as baristos, or are they??

In Italian, barista is masculine, bariste is feminine, and baristi is the plural form.

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