Dear PoPville – Why Can’t I Order Espresso Over Ice?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mylar Bono

Dear PoPville,

I was refused service at Chinatown Coffee Co. in DC, a neighborhood establishment that I frequent quite often. Why? I ordered three shots of espresso over ice. What I didn’t realize is that espresso and ice is a huge controversy among coffee critics. Where there is no disagreement, however, is that customers are still king – even in an indie/hipster coffee shop. It was disappointing, to say the least, the barista, refused my business and then insulted me on the way out the door. A similar encounter is offered in this blog post about Murky Coffee in Arlington.

Here is the play-by-play in my Yelp review:

Here’s the play-by-play for anyone who’s interested (including the management):

Him: “Hi. What can I get for you?”

Me: “I’d like 3 shots of espresso over a cup of ice to go.”

Him: “I can’t do that. I could make you an americano instead. I has water in it.”

Me: “No thanks. I’d like a cup with ice with 3 shots of espresso poured over it.”

Him: “We don’t do that because it will ruin it. We make the best espresso in the city and putting it over ice will shock it.”

Me: [long pause] “Really?”

Him: “Aww… did I just ruin your day?”

Me: “So you can’t make this drink?”

Him: “No.”

Before I had even said another word, he had already walked away.

Chinatown Coffee responded to the OP:

We take customer concerns about service and quality seriously.

Having said that, we simply do not serve espresso to go or over ice. We do our best to communicate the reasons for this and hope the customers understand that we do so as part of our commitment to serving the highest quality coffee, not to snobbery or to be rude to our customers–that’s not our intent. Sometimes our customers have a different view, and we respect that.

What do you think – is the customer always right or is that trumped by commitment to serving the highest quality coffee?

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