In light of comments made publicly by a certain individual who will be unnamed here, but is well known in the industry, I felt inclined to write a small note on the service industry, specifically in the coffee community.
As a person that has visited over 140 specialty coffee cafes both in the US and abroad, I have had a multitude of varying experiences in quality of service, hospitality, and coffee itself.
I have myself, many times, ordered an espresso or coffee that I thought was altogether undrinkable as well. This has happened both at cafes I was visiting for the first time and also at local cafes I visit frequently where the staff are friends of mine. As a paying customer and 100% a consumer in the coffee community, I should certainly have the right to want to have the best experience and a drinkable and enjoyable coffee when visiting a cafe.
Even if I have a bad drink, I may say something to the cafe, but never have I nor will I ever put that cafe on blast on social media or call them out publicly for a long wait or undrinkable coffee.
I believe while the specialty industry should always be striving for better quality and service, it is equally important to appreciate those that work every day behind the counter and serve hundreds of drinks a day in many cases.
We can offer critiques, especially if we have the knowledge and expertise to do so, but I believe that those critiques should be given through the proper channels to those who can actually affect change.
I believe kindness and humility are important traits to employ everyday in our interactions, even when giving negative feedback.
Further, if you arrive at a cafe during a “rush period” such as before a major industry conference when EVERYONE is on their way there and stopping into the same cafe as you, I believe you should know going in, that there’s going to be a long wait.
Now again, said individual who made specific comments on social media will remain unnamed, but I want to make a point here. I was at this very same cafe at the very same time when this individual was present.
I arrived about seven minutes before he did and when he came in, I was actually introduced to him by a friend and shook his hand.
When I arrived, there was maybe 8-10 people in line when I got in line. I did not wait very long, but as this cafe, people like to ask a lot of questions when they order which slows down service, at no fault of the staff.
When this unnamed individual arrived, there was a swarm of people showing up and the line had wrapped around the bar and all the way back to the bathrooms at this point.
The fact was this person arrived at a busy time and most people order more than one beverage at this specific cafe, so the amount of drinks needing to be made is quickly multiplied and the staff is suddenly heavily task saturated.
I waited approximately 10-15 minutes for my drink along with my friend who I was there to meet, but as we waited we had a chance to talk and converse and that time really didn’t seem all that bad. We took a seat and had a chance to both slow down and have a conversation.
All this to say, that while this person may have indeed had a bad experience to his expectations, there is an amount of grace that should be afforded to those working hard to prepare his drinks as well as the many others who were present at that time.
The truth is that if if you employ kindness and humility in your everyday interactions, people will be far more receptive of what you have to share even if it is negative. At the end of the day, we are all people and while I as a consumer want a good experience, the staff serving me also deserves respect in how I interact with them.
No one likes blunt acidity, in coffee, or in personalities. Let’s be kind to one another and if we have a critique, let’s share it in a direct way that addresses the issue, but doesn’t publicly slander people or discredit all their hard work.
Kindness & Humility, that’s the message here.