Coffee Shop Accidentally Forwards Embarassing Internal Emails To Customer

Reader X sends us an internal email chain that was accidentally forwarded by some executives at Beaner’s Coffee.

The customer was writing in to inquire as to when trans fats would be eliminated from Beaner’s products. In addition to a cheerful reply, said customer was also treated to the internal email chain instructing the Vice President of Operations on how to “sidestep the question.”

beaner5.jpg Well, that’s embarrassing.


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  1. Reminded me of that line in Down Periscope where Rob Scheinder asks “you think we’re all going to jump out of bed in the morning and have a big, tall, steaming cup of PIGFAT?” I thought someone was questioning about trans fats IN coffee

  2. Falconfire says:

    DOH…. I do believe Jeremy is now in the look for a new job for being a complete moron on the understanding that you NEVER REPLY ALL….

  3. Coelacanth says:

    All I can say is that the e-mail ended up in the right place :) Here, on Consumerist.

  4. tedyc03 says:

    It’s not surprising at all that a company would do this. They can’t answer the reader’s question outright so spin control dictates that they put the best face on it they can. However, I wouldn’t go to this coffee shop again if I got an answer like that…with or without the e-mail trail.

  5. weakdome says:

    LOL: Tom Butz.
    Bet going through school with a name like that sucked pretty bad.

  6. friendlynerd says:

    I suppose that about sums it up. I was heartbroken when Beaners bought out my favorite local coffee shop in my hometown of Toledo (Sufficient Grounds). Their attitude about everything was just much more corporate, their coffee wasn’t as good, and the live music went the way of the dodo.

  7. Sudonum says:

    I don’t thing Jeremy hit “reply all”. I think Tom Butz didn’t remove the previous comments before sending the e-mail to the customer.

  8. Murph1908 says:

    It’s not Jeremy who farked up. It was Thomas, who sent the final response to the customer while leaving the email tail wagging behind.

  9. m4ximusprim3 says:

    Unfortunate for them that they don’t know how to use email.

    I guess they have larger problems, like trying to get to the copier while hopelessly mired in partially hydrogenated oil. Talk about a crappy place to work.

  10. homerjay says:

    Do you really think that every other company out there isn’t saying the same thing when they answer customer inquiries? You just got a glimpse of what goes into running customer service is all.

    The silver lining? That they consider themselves ‘hopelessly mired’ as opposed to ‘we love the stuff but don’t tell the customer that.’ It appears to me that they can’t seem to find a way to NOT use the stuff without sacrificing the taste of their product.

  11. @friendlynerd: Sufficient Grounds is a Beaners now? Leave the Toledo area for a few years and this is what happens!

  12. MDSasquatch says:

    and if anyone thinks they are the only company that does this, I have 1000 shares of a worthless gold mining company I’d be interested in selling you.

    At the most, I find this humorous, but I don’t buy my coffee at $4 a cup either

  13. lightmanjk says:

    I can’t help but see the positive in this – especially since I run my own business. Many companies would have just ignored the inquiry and the issue would have been forgotten. Reader X would have continued to be a “mostly-satisfied” customer and life would have gone on.

    In this case, the company truly did value their customer’s feedback – enough for the VP of operations to read the e-mail, and even more so for that same executive to reach out to his staff for a proper answer. Again, it would have been easier to ignore it, but instead this executive cared enough about the relationship with and the business of this customer to respond.

    Trans-fats are a hot button issue today, and while large chains like Starbucks or McDonalds can throw their weight around with suppliers to make changes quickly within drastically affecting the bottom line, many smaller businesses mostly likely cannot flip a switch that easily.

    Kudos for the effort and the best intentions to get back to someone who cared enough to right in… but I give them a C for letting the side-stepping secrets out of the back.

  14. friendlynerd says:

    @Hon. Rev. Dr. Jerkwheat, Esq.:

    Yeah, that happened a while ago, I think while I was in college. I hung out there a lot in high school.

    You’ve also unintentionally summed up what’s wrong with Toledo – everyone our age left if they didn’t get knocked up first.

  15. StinkyCat says:

    Actually, the fact that this made Consumerist most likley gives Jeremysome job security.

  16. Rando says:

    ROFL! How’d that get by 3 people?

  17. Balisong says:

    Again, I plead with you people to leave the trans fat in my junk food alone. Still missing the days of yummy girl scout cookies…

  18. maxwaver says:

    Haha, good stuff. I hope he replied back with something clever. “Reader X,” that is.

  19. DeltaPurser says:

    Classic! :-)

  20. shadow735 says:

    poor handling but if you look at the situation the fact is they dont have an answer. You dont send a letter telling the cutomer “Well I dont know and we dont know when” not good business so you would send a response such as they did.
    What they did wrong was not make sure they didnt fwd the mail to the customer, its called not clicking the relpy all button.
    Seriously people I wouldnt read into this too much. They didnt do anything wrong they just didnt have any answer to the cutomers question.
    Still he should reply back with a history and say hey why you guys letting me know you will side step my question.
    Maybe he will get a gift card or something.

  21. raehtz10 says:

    Actually, Beaners had to change their name due to the growing anti-Hispanic culture that is growing in our society. They are changing to Bigby’s


  22. Geekybiker says:

    I just surprised that people with those titles were actually discussing a customer service email.

  23. zentec says:

    Time for the business colleges to include a basic email course. Followed by a chapter in the business ethics course titled “Is Sidestepping the Question Good Business Practice?”

  24. friendlynerd says:


    Oh my god, now I’ve heard it all. Give me a mothafucking break.

  25. @homerjay: Exactly.

  26. KogeLiz says:


    I agree.

  27. DrGirlfriend says:

    “@friendlynerd: Well, I have to admit that I have never heard of this chain before, and my first thought at reading this article was, “They’re called Beaner’s??!” I get that it refers to coffee beans. But being a “beaner” myself, I suppose I would be more prone to noticing something like that.

  28. Mike_ says:

    In my various jobs, I’ve been asked to help formulate customer-facing responses to questions without pretty answers. This exchange might be embarrasing for Beaner’s, but I don’t think it’s atypical of any business that responds to consumer inquiries.

    Beaner’s customers must not be beating down their doors asking for non-hydrogenated fats. Otherwise, the CSR wouldn’t have had to ask for guidance from management. On some level it’s comforting to know such inquiries are routinely put in front of company executives, instead of passing silently through the PR office.

  29. friendlynerd says:


    Fair enough. I guess I’m especially shocked because I’ve never heard that as a disrespectful term, only as a place to get coffee.

    BTW, I love Dr. Girlfriend.

  30. misstic says:

    The only faux pas here is the accidental “reply to all”. The jist of the reply is standard in most businesses. “We know this is a concern and could affect our customers and our bottom line, but we don’t have a solid answer yet. Please figure out a way to mollify this person.”

    Besides, millions of food products contain trans fats (and who knows what else) and every week, some study tells us that XYZ isn’t safe anymore (hence the ‘hopelessly mired…’) No one holds a gun to your head to buy this coffee or any other food product for that matter.

  31. dorianh49 says:

    @homerjay: I don’t think it’s a question of “taste”, but of cost. Butter and cream taste better (and, believe it or not, are more healthful) than their hydrogenated oil counterparts, but are more expensive, because they don’t have as long a shelf life, for one thing.

  32. dorianh49 says:

    @misstic: More like “forward with history”.

  33. scoosdad says:

    What kind of company is it where the VP of Operations can’t answer a customer’s question about the future plans for a product that he manufactures, and asks the Director of Training to send the guy a response?

    In most companies, the training director is the person who oversees the internal training that employees receive (or frequently, don’t) to do their jobs. Usually has nothing to do with customer relations.

    This is one seriously disfunctional corporate family!

  34. homerjay says:

    @dorianh49: But on a large scale (I’m assuming Beaner’s is relatively large somewhere, I don’t know them), aren’t butter and cream just totally impractical?

    It MAY be an issue of cost, but if its impractical at their scale, they may just be pricing themselves out of business if they tried to do it that way.

  35. misstic says:

    @dorianh49: Yes, that’s what I meant ;)

  36. floyderdc says:

    Often in the cutomer service world, the Director of Training is more knowledgeable about how to respond to a customer than a VP of operations. Many places trainers and upper managment in the training department was brought in to answer questions that were not common.

  37. Mike_ says:

    This reminded me …

    A few years back I was accidentally sent an internal email exchange between executives at a mortgage company that was laying off a bunch of employees. They were candidly discussing implementation of some meaningless policies meant to distract the remaining employees from the fact that there was no real belt-tightening beyond the job cuts. Management had decided to ask workers to conserve office supplies and other consumables, turn off lights in empty rooms, and so-forth. It was very revealing.

    (Said company is no longer in business.)

  38. misstic says:

    @scoosdad: depends on how this company defines it’s roles and departments. Titles are really subjective in some corporations.

  39. arch05 says:

    @friendlynerd: You’ve never heard of hispanics being referred to as beaners? Shit I’ve been hearing that since elementary school…

  40. friendlynerd says:


    No, honestly I had never. There’s a lot you don’t hear at Catholic school in Toledo I guess.

  41. gbbound says:

    I believe they have changed their name to Bigbee’s Coffee (at least in East Lansing, MI).

  42. dorianh49 says:

    @homerjay: I guess it comes down to a business decision. Many business have decided to get themselves “mired in hydrogenated oils” because it’s supposedly “cost-effective”, but not all have taken this route. I think it’s sad when business DECIDE to sacrifice quality and health to save themselves a few pennies here and there.

  43. n/a says:

    I guess some arent educated on the internets yet.

  44. Saboth says:


  45. wilmawonker says:

    @friendlynerd: and they’re so god damned perky! augh do not force cheer down my throat on my way to work, just hand me the coffee and step down.

  46. m4ximusprim3 says:

    I think beaner is (or at least started out as) a southwest thing, just like most anti-hispanic sentiments.

    Oh so proud of our little racist corner I am. Not.

  47. rewinditback says:



  48. forgottenpassword says:

    LOL! funny!

    Too bad most companies have to lie, spin & bullshit the customer on a daily basis.

    I also am suprised that “Beaner’s coffe” hasnt been sued by hispanics. Bad choice of a name IMO.

  49. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    From my experience, I’ve noticed that people don’t read/think before they hit the send button. Plus, some e-mail programs hide or collapse the previous e-mail trail. This makes it very easy for a clueless/multitasking sales rep to respond directly to the end customer by CC’ing them on the original e-mail. Bad.

  50. friendlynerd says:


    Sued for what exactly? It clearly refers to coffee beans. Besides, the PC police already won, they’re changing their name.

  51. xboxishuge says:

    “Beaner’s” is great name for a coffee shop, and “Tom Butz” is a great name for a human being.

  52. Gorky says:

    I would have just told him. Our stuff has transfats in it. Either buy it or dont. Its what we sell

  53. balthisar says:

    Is “beaner” really pejorative or just affectionate? I can’t imagine a redneck (pejorative) screaming “beaner” at a bunch of spics with as straight a face as he might utter the N-word. The word “spic” seems much nastier.

  54. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Sounds like Jeremy DeRuiter got his training from the guy that was the President of the New York Central RR back in the early fifties.
    Someone complained about bedbugs on the train & he had an apology sent out.
    Unfortunately for him, the secretary attached his note to her which said: “Send this guy the usual bedbug letter”.

  55. samurailynn says:

    This isn’t as bad as I was expecting. So now the customer knows that their answer is at least partially BS. Oh well, as if we didn’t all know that already.

    @balthisar: I think beaner is mostly negative – I would never call a Hispanic friend by that term. It comes from the low paying job of picking beans. A lot of Hispanics come to work in southern California for agricultural jobs.

  56. homerjay says:

    @dorianh49: I wonder if it really is a matter of a few pennies and if its a cost a business can absorb. It also depends on whether your business is intended to be priced like Starbucks or priced like Dunkin Donuts.

    I’m actually less concerned about this email BECAUSE the guy specifies that they seem to have little choice in the matter based on how their business is marketed. Its possible that the cost is far more than a few pennies.

    Still, I don’t know. I’m not in the breakfast food business. You may be right and they may just be cheap bastards like most other businesses.

  57. DrGirlfriend says:

    @balthisar: It is never affectionate. It’s an epithet just like spic is. It might sound like an inoffensive word, but when you hear someone say it with genuine disdain you start to get how there’s no way it can be affectionate.

    There are people trying to “take it back”, much like other epithets have been taken back by the communities they are supposed to insult. But unless you fit that specific ethnic category, I wouldn’t pull a Randal Graves with that word. ;)

  58. mschlock says:

    Ah, the good ol’ bedbug letter!


  59. swagv says:

    What kind of retard is so out of control with his own bodily functions that he needs his restaurant or café to eliminate items from his diet that he doesn’t want?

    “Please help! I cannot stop myself! And that includes drooling on my pants!”

    Who needs that kind of a customer, anyway?

  60. jamesdenver says:

    Every time I go back to visit family in Grand Rapids I’m shocked that “Beaner’s Coffee” exists.

    Every time I go in I’m snickering and have my own collection of “Beaners” photos. Oh and my mom sends me Beaner’s coffee…

    This would never fly in San Diego or anywhere in the southwest…

  61. Myron says:

    Isn’t there a confidentiality notice in the executive’s email signature? I believe it states the penalty for distributing said email is crushing via large rock.

  62. TheBigLewinski says:

    I think that Tom Butz pulled a “boner” sending out that email. Geez, you just can’t make this stuff up.

  63. benh57 says:

    Growing up in Los Angeles, beaner is a well known racial slur.

  64. HeartBurnKid says:

    I think we’re missing the bigger story here — namely that there’s a coffee house named after a racial slur.

    Trust me, these guys would NEVER make it in the Southwest.

  65. Sudonum says:

    Having lived in SoCal for 32 years (1968-2000), I always thought that “beaner” referred to the diet, not the job. There weren’t a lot of lima bean fields left when I was there. Now if they were called some derivative of strawberry that would make more sense.

  66. jbellusdlaw says:

    That’s brilliant, made my day…

  67. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @m4ximusprim3: Awesome!

  68. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @Sudonum: Having lived and grown up in the Bay Area my entire life, I can assure you, it is, in fact, used as a racial slur.

  69. humperdinck says:

    This reminds me of when Bed Bath & Beyond used to be called Towelheads.

  70. jamesdenver says:

    If anyone doesn’t think that “Beaner” is a derogatory term go ahead and order some of this for your Latino friends and co-workers.


    Enjoy the wacky hijinks ensue…

  71. ChristopherDavis says:

    Many years ago, I got an email from a web filter vendor explaining why an entire set of pages had been blocked (and then unblocked, since it didn’t actually contain what the filter said it did).

    At the end was a note saying “Somebody tell this guy why the pages were filtered so he’ll stop saying that we won’t tell him.” (Well, duh.)

    This is the one kind of situation where top-posting is a feature, not a bug….

  72. Sudonum says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: I never said it wasn’t a racial slur. I was questioning the origins of the slur

  73. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @Sudonum: Sorry, my bad.

  74. goodkitty says:

    @scoosdad: No, this is pretty much the way most corps I’ve known work. In fact, you can tell that this is a smaller company because they attempted to answer the question honestly, internally, even though the motive to deceive was there (which tells me it’s a corporation and not a mom+pop or sole-proprietorship).

    Small companies mean that instead of having executive VP’s whose sole job is to spout out BS and nonsense all day, you have a bunch of lower level people who work together to figure out what kind of BS and nonsense will accomplish the job.

    Now, they could have just said, “Sorry, our processes still use partially hydrogenated oils, and while we know those are not great for you, we simply can’t compromise the great taste of our products. When we find something that works as well, we’ll be all over it like copyright lawsuits on a college campus. Until then, we’re going to keep trying to make our products better by re-evaluating our forumula every 18 months to ensure you get the best.”

    Honesty. It’s not just for covering steaming lies to the customer anymore.

  75. evilhapposai says:

    I too have never heard of Beaners being used anything bad. Just the name of another expensive coffee chain. Some local kids somewhere prolly thought up the word up and it spread out of hand. Does that mean everyone in the English language needs to stop using it? In some small section of the country someone might be using “hello” to refer to African Americans, or “Consumerist” for Latino, or “and” for white people. Does that mean we have to stop using those words too?

    …..and the local coffee shop I live next to is called Teabaggers and has been for years. Only perverted High Schoolers find it funny for about 2 seconds before they realize they need to get their head out of the toilet.

  76. Bill Brasky says:

    Obviously,they were taking this “Very Seriously” .

  77. savvy999 says:

    @goodkitty: I’m all for honesty too, but it sounds to me like this place just made up the “18 month” review part to get the customer off their back. My guess is that there has never been a “menu evaluation”, and there probably won’t ever be, unless they lose a supplier or profits fall far or something else (other than trans-fats) forces them to take a look at their menu.

    Big company or small, they are lying and got busted.

  78. Promethean says:



    It looks like we have a corporate shill in the ranks here. Lightmanjk is brand new user, with this his only comment. Considering the content, this SCREAMS corporate Beanner’s shill to me, trying to once again spin the issue.

  79. heartburnkid says:

    @evilhapposai: Ummmm… yeah. You’ve obviously never been to California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or anywhere else there’s a lot of Mexicans. If a coffee shop opened around here that was named “Beaner’s”… well, it wouldn’t be pretty.

  80. Rando says:

    @raehtz10: They’ll have to change their name after that once they realize they stole the name from Kenan and Kel

  81. Mish says:

    Does anyone else find something wrong with the fact that the coffeeshop is called BEANER??

  82. humperdinck says:

    @Mish: No, nobody in the hundreds of comments above yours has a problem with that.

  83. friendlynerd says:


    Did you read, like…ANYTHING on this page before posting that?

  84. friendlynerd says:


    OK, “Teabaggers” is maybe the best name for a coffee shop I’ve ever heard.

    Makes me think of Martha Plimpton in Pecker.

  85. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @friendlynerd: God, that movie was hilarious!

  86. peggynature says:

    All I could think of while reading this was, “BEANER’S? Are you KIDDING me?” I’m glad they’re changing the name. I guess it’s regional, but where I come from, you just…don’t say that, let alone put it on a sign in front of your business.

  87. Squeaks says:

    This happened to me once. I sent a few simple questions to a company we were working with, and I finally got some of the answers a while later…though included in the answers was a discussion about whether or not they were going to tell us the information, and basically insulted my intelligence by implying that I should already know the answer to their question.
    Of course, they didn’t mean for that part of the email to come through.

  88. scarysnow says:

    I worked there during a summer in college, and we frequently told upper management that ‘Beaner’ is a derogatory slur…to which they brushed us off, saying, “No it’s not! Where did you hear that?”