The dangers of the modern coffee-snob culture have been sharply revealed in an extremely bizarre story from Washington, USA.
There are been many reported incidents, even many from here in the UK, about arguments between customers and coffee house staff over how drinks are presented. In a culture in which more and more people now consider themselves experts, it has become very common for customers to send back espresso-based coffees which are not made to their liking.
Arguments over how certain drinks such as macchiattos should correctly be made have become more and more common.
The problem for the caterer is this: is the customer always right, or does the operator have the right to decide how they prepare and serve their beverages?
In the most recent case, a customer at Murky Coffee
The barista then gave the customer a lecture about espresso, and how his job was 'to preserve the integrity of the drink', and in return the customer said that he would have his coffee any way he pleased, thank you very much.
Curiously, he then left a dollar bill in the tip jar - but wrote on it "F*** you and your precious coffee policy."
Normally, that would be the end of it but the customer reported it on his online blog, the café owner responded on his own site and, within days, more than 100,000 online visitors were watching the row across the internet.
The Washington Post ran a poll of customers to find out whether the customer is always right in matters of how espresso coffee is prepared - 31% of respondents said it was 'outrageous' for a caterer to dictate how the customer took his drink, whereas 19% said it was fully justifiable for an experienced barista to tell a customer off over what is, or is not, the right way to drink coffee.
However, the greatest proportion of the responses came from the 49% who replied: 'who cares?'
By Ian Boughton