Have you ever ordered a decaf low-fat soy milk latte from a seriously unimpressed barista, only to wonder afterwards if you got what you ordered?
Well, if you were served by Seattle All City Coffee’s Matt Watson, you can be pretty certain that you didn’t.
Watson is the creator of Bitter Barista, a blog expressing the daily rage and disappointment of one very disgruntled coffee slinger. The blog was entirely anonymous until Watson was recently outed by coffee news website Sprudge.com. Watson’s boss promptly fired him upon learning about the blog, reports Gawker.
“That makes sense,” says barista and coffee educator Chris Tellez.
An employee of Dark Horse Coffee in Toronto, Tellez says a blog like Bitter Barista can have a terrible influence on the industry.
“For someone like me who wants to make a career out of coffee, this is really frustrating,” says Tellez. “The customer isn’t going to understand or appreciate what we’re doing if it gets treated like a service job.”
Here’s a sampling of a few of the Bitter Barista’s incendiary quotes.
“What a coincidence! You have a gluten allergy, and I don’t care about your gluten allergy!”
“If your tip makes a sound when it hits the bottom of the jar, you’re doing it wrong.”
“My only goal for the month is to learn how to pour a picture of a middle finger in latte art.”
“If you remind me four times that you've ordered decaf, guess what you won't be getting.”
You get the idea. Though many clearly enjoyed the pithy bitterness, others, like the folks at coffee news website Sprudge.com, were less impressed.
“There’s a lot of anger in this blog, and while we love the well-worn barista cliche, it should be the stuff of mild parody, not an all-out assault on whomever walks through the door of your cafe,” writes Sprudge blogger Llewellyn Sinclair.
Sprudge’s writers were so incensed by the blog that they conducted an (admittedly easy) investigation into the Bitter Barista’s real identity and then outed both Watson and his place of work, All City Coffee.
After the firing, Watson’s boss Seth Levy tells the Seattle Times, "I can't endorse what he was saying, whether humorous or not. It puts me in a difficult position, where if I don't respond that means I endorse what he's saying."
The firing shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as the blog is thick with quotes like, “What my boss doesn’t understand is that, while my attitude makes for some terrible customer service, it makes for some great internet.”
Interestingly enough, Watson has many supporters, including most of the commenters on the Sprudge’s article reprimanding the blog.
One commenter writes: “The reason why you outed Bitter Barista is as bleak as old espresso. It was not up to you nor your duty to out somebody just because you think it “misrepresent” [sic] the coffee world. As an ex-Barista I can tell you that his comments were humorous and poignant; albeit not politically correct from your point of view. ”
Still, for people like Tellez who take great pride in their barista jobs, Watson's behaviour was enough to merit dismissal.
“It makes it seem like all baristas think this way,” says Tellez. “It’s unprofessional, and coffee can be a profession.”
Either way, Watson seems to be doing okay. He's got a coffee table book on the way, and with all of this notoriety, chances are he'll sell a few copies. No word yet on whether he'll return to slinging lattes.
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