Coffee-Shop Threatens To "Punch" Customer In His "Dick"

What could a customer and a coffee shop be scuffling over that would lead the owner to publicly announce that if the customer comes back in, he’ll “punch him in the dick?” And the customer saying the only way he’ll come back in is with “matches and a can of kerosene?” The right to pour espresso over ice, obviously. The blogstorm began as follows…

Jeff Simmermon’s blog:

I just ordered my usual summertime pick-me-up: a triple shot of espresso dumped over ice. And the guy at the counter looked me in the eye with a straight face and said “I’m sorry, we can’t serve iced espresso here. It’s against our policy.”

The whole world turned brown and chunky for a second. Flecks of corn floated past my pupils, and it took me a second to blink it all away.

“Okay,” I said, “I’ll have a triple espresso and a cup of ice, please.” He rolled his eyes and rang it up, took my money, gave me change. I stood there and waited. Then the barista called me over to the bar. I reached for it, and he leaned over and locked his eyes with mine, saying “Hey man. What you’re about to do … that’s really, really Not Okay.”

Blah blah blah, then Jeff ordered a second cup of coffee and left a dollar tip in the tip jar scrawled with the phrase, “Fuck you and your precious coffee policy.”

The story got picked up on BoingBoing and Metafilter, with commenters chiming in.

The net blowup prompted the store owner to blog the following:

Okay, we don’t do espresso over ice. Why? Number one, because we don’t do it. Number two, because we don’t do it. Mostly for quality reasons. Also, because more than half the time, it’s abused (Google “ghetto latte”).

To Mr. Simmermon, you overplayed your hand with your vulgar tip-schtick. While I certainly won’t bemoan you your right to free-speech, I have to respond to you in your own dialect: Fuck you, Jeff Simmermon. Considering your public threat of arson, you’ll understand when I say that if you ever show your face at my shop, I’ll punch you in your dick.

Owner, murky coffee

Nick also posted some answers to the most frequently asked questions people were leaving on the blog:

We’ve got quite a few comments in the moderation-queue, and in a departure from normal procedures, I won’t be approving and posting them all. Why? If you want to spew garbage on the internet, get your own blog.

I will, however, respond here to a few legitimate questions that some folks asked.

Q. What’s wrong with “espresso over ice?”
Answer: Espresso is a fairly volatile thing, and when it hits ice, it seems to go through a chemical change that we can’t fully explain (and I haven’t seen a good explanation within our industry quite yet). It does appear to have something to do with ascorbic acid, but when we make our iced americanos (espresso + water + ice), we pour the shots into room-temperature water before adding the ice. Believe it or not, it does make a difference. Pouring espresso over ice creates unpleasantly acrid flavors.

Somewhat similarly, when we make our iced coffee, we go through the trouble of brewing it double-strength directly onto ice. If you brew coffee normally and then pour the hot coffee over ice, it results in unpleasant flavors. Making iced-coffee the way that we do seems to preserve a lot of the unique flavors from the coffees we’re brewing (unlike the popular “Toddy” method of cold-brewing for iced coffee), and yields a great drink overall. Again, not entirely sure why the different technique yields such different results, but it does. If we put the coffee through two slits, it’d probably act all confusingly then too.

The second and more mundane reason has to do with the infamous “ghetto latte.” More than half of the customers who we gave “iced espresso” to (back before our now infamous policy) would take that cup to the condiment bar and pour 8-14 ounces of milk out of the dairy pitcher, effectively taking advantage of a perceived loophole in the “system.” Just as buying a cup of coffee doesn’t entitle you to take a pound’s worth of sugar packets home with you to put into your jar at home, this “ghetto latte” practice was pretty disheartening and distracting to the baristas. Call it our “infield fly rule,” but “no espresso over ice” became our policy in 2006.

Q. Why do you allow “iced americanos,” but not iced espresso?
Answer: See answer above.

Q. But why would David, the barista in question, “Hey, what you’re about to do-that’s really, really not okay?”
Because we have our policy, and David was trying to support it, even though the other barista who rang this customer up gave in and gave him “a double espresso and a cup of ice,” which, to be frank, the baristas aren’t supposed to do.

Q. Why did you threaten the guy with violence? That’s not cool!
Maybe you’re right. But if someone posts on the internet “the only way I’m ever coming back to Murky Coffee in Arlington is if I’m carrying matches and a can of kerosene” as this dude did, I will, without remorse, post publicly that I will defend our property, even with violence. Yeah, what I wrote was ridiculous. A ridiculous response to a ridiculous statement… at least I hope so. If not, I hope his dick is at least big enough to punch.

Q. The customer is always right
Yeah, that’s true. Actually, nevermind. It’s bullshit.

Every customer is a welcome guest. But even welcome guests can overstep their bounds, and demanding that we give you something that we say that we can’t or won’t is overstepping your bounds for sure. I can pretty much guarantee that we spend more time and energy on making our espresso as great as can be, than anyone else in the DC area. That said, not everyone’s gonna love it. Such is life. We have our standards. You’re more than welcome to partake in it, and you’re completely free not to. We’ll keep doing our best (and that includes giving good customer service).

This all leads to a whole thing about consumerism that I’ve been ranting about for years, but this is neither the time nor place for that.

I will add that it is our internal policy that I support my employees, even when they make mistakes. In this case, David wasn’t perfect, but he tried to do the right thing. For the Simmermon-dude to write that crap on that dollar bill waived his rights to any civility. Dish it out, then take it. Mr. Simmermon is a big boy. He doesn’t need the blogosphere coming to his defense.

Q. Get over it. It’s just coffee.
You’re absolutely right. Everyone go home and call your mother and tell her you love her. Afterwards, understand that it is “just coffee” after all. However, coffee is our job. That’s all. No more, no less.

Thanks for all the comments and emails (for the record, about 40% supportive, 20% critical, and about 40% ignorant and ridiculous… but that’s the nature of the sandbox that we blog in, no?).

-Nick Cho, owner

Unless the shop makes the customers sign an EULA, they can’t control what people decide to do with their products after they’re sold. After that, you just have 3 dicks in a dick-measuring contest. Congrats, you’re all winners.

(Photo: Guy Noir)
(Thanks to Jason and Ben!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. kepler11 says:

    Finally, a company that says what it means! No lame corporate-speak here. We need more business owners like this!

  2. cotr says:

    me winner?

  3. evslin says:

    The whole world turned brown and chunky for a second. Flecks of corn floated past my pupils, and it took me a second to blink it all away.

    That’s funny. Sophomoric, but funny.

  4. Veeber says:

    arson? When did Jeff mention arson?

  5. Bladefist says:

    ghetto latte
    n. a purchased espresso to which is added a free dairy condiment such as milk, half-and-half, or whitener.

    I hope this guy goes out of business like the 600 starbucks.

  6. Ein2015 says:

    At least he’s honest. I’m going to side with the owner here, especially since the iced-coffee-guy threatened arson.

  7. hewhoroams says:

    I kind of feel like Jeff was the instigator here. I think children are the people who are told they can’t do something, than blatantly do it in your face or swear at you for it.
    Bring on the dick punches.

  8. morganlh85 says:

    Ah yes, the infamous ghetto latte. I hated when people did that if only because I had to immediately go refill the creamer pitchers after those assholes used it all.

  9. coan_net says:

    I’m not a coffee type of person, so maybe someone can explain to me a little better.

    Well first, I did google “ghetto latte” – which is basicly a drink where people will add their own dairy condiment (milk, half & half, etc…)

    So what does that have to do with getting a coffee over ice?

    I would think the store would MAKE MORE MONEY since ice (water) will take more room in the glass – meaning that they will use LESS of the more expensive coffee.

    So why would the store not want to do that – nor care if a customer does this after they sold it. (since I would think they would have also charged for a glass of ice also)

  10. B says:

    When the guy ordered Espresso over ice, why didn’t the barista just offer him an iced Americano instead, since it’s the basically same thing?

  11. ratnerstar says:

    Annoying prick with a blog meets pretentious coffee house asshole, hilarity ensues!

  12. ARP says:

    I’m no Nick’s side. He’s the owner/manager and he can make up whatever rules he wants as long as they’re not illegal. Nick was also very reasoned in his response.

    Jeff can choose to buy coffee there or not.

    Besides, threatening to punch someone in the d*ck is so low-brow, but absolutely hilarious.

  13. IP says:

    Rude customer gets cockpunched. Film at eleven.

  14. ediebeale says:

    Oh yeah, I’m with the owner on this one. People who do that “ghetto latte” thing are usually obnoxious assholes who think they’re getting one over on the system. Milk costs something, and it’s just a dick move to take advantage of that loophole, especially to a small business. Can you do it and get away with it? Sure. But you’re still kind of a loser for doing it.

    Seems like the customer instigated this one, and while I don’t approve of dick-punching in general, I think the customer is wrong, and I dig the honesty on the part of the owner.

  15. TheLemon says:

    For the Simmermon-dude to write that crap on that dollar bill waived his rights to any civility.

    Not only is this guy on a seemingly steroid-fueled power trip, but he’s also an expert on civil rights.

  16. misterdisco says:

    Back when I lived in DC, Murky Coffee had another location that was shut down in February because Nick, the asshole owner, didn’t cough up over 400K in back taxes. Do we really want more owners like him?


    This was Eastern Market’s hipster coffee shop – and although I like the little guy infinitely more than the chains, I would get my fix from Port City Java simply because the staff was nice, product was superior, and I didn’t have to deal with self-entitled staff anytime I needed caffeine.

    I think it’s Nick that needs punched in the dick.

  17. WalrusTaco says:

    seems like two asses to me

  18. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    @Veeber: First paragraph in the linked post on his blog:

    “Maybe condescending service from a patronizing millenial at a DC coffee shop isn’t news to anyone else. But the only way I’m ever coming back to Murky Coffee in Arlington is if I’m carrying matches and a can of kerosene.”

  19. ediebeale says:

    @coan_net: People will get a cup of ice and espresso filled maybe halfway (since you can’t very well just give someone a giant cup of espresso with a few ice cubes floating in it), and then add their own milk instead of paying for an iced latte or whatever. It saves the customer maybe 50 cents or $1.

  20. LINIS says:

    @coan_net: It actually loses them money because while yes, ice is extremely cheap, and yes, coffee is more expensive than ice, dairy is much much more expensive than both. Coffee really isn’t all that expensive.

  21. Askiba says:

    @coan_net: Although I’m not a coffee type of person either, I will assume that people use A LOT of the creamer (see morganlh85’s comment), and then that costs the place money and time (to refill the picture).

    This is strange for me, but yeah, I’m siding with Nick here. Jeff was acting childish (‘I didn’t get what I wanted, I’m gonna kick and scream’) and threatening arson, which is illegal. I’m sure he wouldn’t actually do it, but Nick is just being better safe then sorry.

  22. hubris says:

    I don’t care anything at all about coffee, but I’m a huge fan of this murky coffee owner. The original customer was perfectly free to go to another store, but he had to get his nuts in a twist over this and act like an idiot.

  23. ThinkerTDM says:

    You’ll get what I give you, and you’ll like it. Nice.
    Jobs like this would be great if it wasn’t for the customers.
    I can’t take a side in this one. I wonder what will replace “Murky Coffee” when it goes under?

  24. AMetamorphosis says:

    It’s friggin’ coffee …

    The owners a snob.
    The customers rude.

    Their both idiots.

  25. fjordtjie says:

    @coan_net: i think for people that actually give a damn about what they serve, it really does ruin the integrity of their product. kind of like taking a piss on a good steak. i don’t even drink coffee because it’s already ruined for me, but i can see why the owner was so passionate about it. i can also see why the purchaser was dismayed to be told not to drink it the way he liked it–who does have the right to tell you how to correctly consume something you bought?

    eh, man drama!

  26. hubris says:

    @TheLemon: Might want to look up the difference between civility and civil rights.

  27. Kaisum says:

    This is ridiculous.

    The owner is a penny-pinching coffee elitist.

    While I will say it’s childish on both sides with the threats of coffee-immolation and dick-punching I side with Jeff, he just wanted his coffee the way he likes it and Murky Coffee wasn’t able to provide it the way he did.

    Why it is that putting your latte on ice is “really, really not okay” is beyond me. I’d like to bring up something that is “really, really not okay.”
    Rape. Rape is really really not okay. Putting your latte on ice is just not that big of a deal.

    I agree the customer isn’t always right, but that doesn’t mean the owner should be such an elitist prick.

  28. PipeRifle says:

    This is really a great story. Man feels slighted, takes non-physical juvenile cheap shot. Other party hangs mouth open, aghast that someone could act in such a way. Then they retreat to their respective blogs.

    It’s a modern-day duel. It’s so amazingly pointless on both sides, and I love it.

  29. chumleyex says:

    The moral of the story? Don’t drink Coffee, it’s for girly men.

  30. mythago says:

    So, not only a bunch of assholes, but dumb assholes with penis-size issues. On some cosmic level, clearly Jeff and Nick were made for one another.

  31. MikeB says:

    Easy fix to stopping a “ghetto latte” Use a small cup.

  32. sleze69 says:

    I used to work for a snowboard shop called “Cool Runnings” outside of Philadelphia. In addition to snowboards, we also sold clothes and skateboards. Once, a customer came in looking for those mini-skis that make doing ski-tricks easier. I told him that we don’t sell “fruit-booters,” as was the common name for them. Angrily, he demanded the owner, Jaime, and asked him for the mini-skis.

    Jaime replied, “I am sorry, sir, we don’t sell fruit-booters.”

    The guy left in astonishment. Although Jaime’s a professional and would never threaten to punch a customer in the dick for liking “fruit-booters,” he nonetheless chose to run his business as he felt it should be run.

  33. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    @coan_net: The owner is saying that hot espresso over ice is bad because it makes bad flavors. Americano is ok because pouring into tepid water doesn’t form those compounds, or whatever.

    Sounds like a load of BS to me, but, if it’s true, then the customer would have gotten a nasty cup of iced espresso and at that point it would be a blog post about how horrible the coffee at Murky Coffee is.

    If I had a restauraunt and my reputation for good food is a priority and a customer asks for mustard to add to his pancakes, I’d probably not want him to do it for fear that it would reflect poorly on the pancakes.

    Of course, it’s mostly about keeping people from making ghetto lattes, so, I’m just a 799 lb. elephant in the room.

  34. exkon says:


    This guys gets some “bad” customer service and is a little pissed about their coffee policy.

    So he makes a threat of burning the place downs and writes a snide comment on the dollar bill as a tip. Then goes posts on his blog how’s he’s “rebelling” “bad businesses” and expects admiration and support from the community?

    This dude needs to GROW A PAIR OF BALLS.

  35. TheLemon says:

    @hubris: That should have been read with sarcasm. My apologies.

  36. Metropolis says:

    Im with the owner on this one. Its his shop if he doesnt want to sell/give out cups of ice its his policy. Sometimes I feel people on this blog think they deserve special treatment because they choose to shop some place. This guy probably could have went to ten other coffee shops in stones throw.

  37. SavoryDee (is on Team Cake Fat) says:

    Ah, summer romance. I’m really kind of rooting for them. Nick and Jeff have such a passionate relationship! It will never work though; the inevitability of their breakup, that’s where the tragedy comes in.

    This may also be stated: entitled dickwad + snobby douchenozzle = blogfight! Somebody bring the popcorn.

  38. opposablethumb says:

    “Every customer is a welcome guest.”

    I’m not a guest. I’m a customer. There’s a difference. Guests don’t pay, but customers do. Referring to customers as “guests” is one of the most offensive things that’s ever happened to retailing. Retailers seem to think that if they use feel-good, but ultimately deceptive, terminology it will make extracting money from them a little easier. The same goes for referring to clerks as “associates”. It’s just obfuscation of the real retailer/customer relationship.

  39. TCameron says:

    This story is amazing – and hilarious. It’s like a very rude and potentially violent episode of Seinfeld.

  40. Gokuhouse says:


    The owner says that customers who were making the ghetto latte added 8-14 ounces of milk to their espresso over ice orders…My main question is this, how is there that much left over room in their cups? Was the owner was giving those customers two cups or very large cups? I can understand making a policy where you wouldn’t give someone an extra “ice” cup or a larger cup than needed. Just make sure when you poor the espresso over ice you don’t put it in a cup where the customer has the ability to add 8-14 ounces of milk or creamer or whatever. I’m sure the number of customers bringing in their own cups wouldn’t be so large that they would take away a big enough profit from the shop.

  41. remusrm says:

    This is fun and I side with the owener. Its his store and he sets the rules. You do not like it get the fuck out. I also agree with ghetto late. I do it all the time. Order an Americano put some Half and Half and sugar. Why? Since the damn lates have so little coffee or expresso. Besides, that is how I drink my coffee, but again I do not put half of gallon of milk and a pound of sugar. The END.

  42. coan_net says:

    Thanks for all the replies to my post – the original story has been added to since I posted, so that answered some of my questions.

    Even though the story never mentioned he was planning on adding tons of milk or whatever (and if he was, then that sounds like a different topic) – but just because the owner does not like the taste of coffee poured over ice does not mean that everyone else has the same sort of taste – so in my opinion if that is the reason, if the customer wants bad tasting drink – then they owner should sell it to them.

    As for the dairy bar & people abusing it, heck – I would think they should keep all that stuff behind the counter and add that stuff for an additional cost. That is my opinion about that. Sit the stuff out as a free then some people will take advantage of it – heck, for many years in collage I never had to buy a bottle of ketchup at home because of the wonderful world of free packets.

  43. misterdisco says:

    Can we talk about how the owner got his Eastern Market location shut down because he owed over $400,00 in back taxes? No?

  44. danger the pirate says:

    @AMetamorphosis: “Their both idiots.” and whats that say about you?

    i love the internet! spelling and grammar errors abound!

    dick-punching and blog duels everywhere! humanity wins!!!

  45. chucklebuck says:

    @B: The Americano also has water in it, which takes some of the bite away from straight-up espresso.

    But I wonder what would have happened if he ordered a no-water Americano?

  46. misterdisco says:

    @misterdisco Er, $400,000.

  47. TWinter says:

    Go read the Washington Post article that Misterdisco posted. This café owner is in deep financial trouble. He hasn’t paid his sales taxes regularly for years and owes tax money to DC and Virginia. He’s also being sued by his landlord for unpaid rent. And his wife left him because of money problems.

    And his attitude is – it’s no big deal, it’s just a little financial mismanagement, it’s really all about the coffee.

    This country does NOT need more businessmen of this ilk

  48. fever says:

    Did that backflow use “millenial”? Cockpunching is the least that should have been done to him.

  49. backbroken says:

    Coffee really brings out the best in people.

  50. DwightIsMyCopilot says:

    “Congrats, you’re all winners.”

    I think what you mean here is “Congrats, you’re all weiners.”

  51. TheLemon says:

    @misterdisco: From the article you posted:

    “I thought coffee would be up my alley, because I’m a people person.”
    But now he’s also alone. His haphazard approach to finances has cost him his marriage, he said.

    He’s a people person. I totally see that.

    Thanks for posting that, misterdisco. Great article.

  52. prag says:

    I think the owner has a right to be annoyed by ghetto lattes but I see all sorts of people take a cup of coffee, pour off half and replace it with milk. Kinda the same thing. They still serve a cup of coffee without hesitation. If coffee shops are losing money on milk I welcome them to raise the price to fix their business model. If they lose business as a result then, well, that’s how the world works.

    IANAL but I believe use of force is justified in the face of the threat of arson. I’m not sure how efficient a dick-punch is though…

  53. BarryT says:

    Shouldn’t we acknowledge that the term “ghetto latte” is implicitly racist?

  54. AMetamorphosis says:

    @danger the pirate:

    It says I didn’t spell check …


    it makes you a grammer nazi :-)

  55. puka_pai says:


    I’m not a guest. I’m a customer. There’s a difference. Guests don’t pay, but customers do.

    We used to joke at a store I worked in that there was only one kind of business where this was true. Actually, there’s two, if you count the hotel business.

    Referring to customers as “guests” is one of the most offensive things that’s ever happened to retailing. Retailers seem to think that if they use feel-good, but ultimately deceptive, terminology it will make extracting money from them a little easier. The same goes for referring to clerks as “associates”. It’s just obfuscation of the real retailer/customer relationship.

    You have my undying gratitude for this! I can spew corporate bullshit with the best of them, but I’m so glad to see someone who sees it for the nonsense it is. Changing my job name isn’t going to fool me that my paycheck is any bigger, Corporate Overlords.

  56. webdoyenne says:

    My jaw hits the virtual floor. WHY do people always have to be so rude and crude to one another?

  57. AMetamorphosis says:


    Orwell referred to it as “Newspeak” …

    They are feel good utternaces and misappropriated words used to twist the real meaning.

  58. Phil.D. says:

    @Metropolis: ” This guy probably could have went to ten other coffee shops in stones throw.

    Yep. I used to work in that neighborhood, and from where that dude was standing, he was less than a 10 minute walk from: a Starbucks at Arlington Common, another Starbucks at Courthouse Plaza, the Cosi/Xando store near Clarendon & Courthouse, Java Shack at Wilson & Franklin, and Olsson’s Books on Wilson, which has a coffee bar.

  59. flintstone03 says:

    If I lived in the DC area, the first thing that I would do is go to his shop and order an Iced Espresso!

    I understand that it’s there policy, but honestly, it doesn’t even make good business sense to allow your customers to purchase the coffee of their choice (if available) in a coffee shop.

  60. perruptor says:

    “Ruins the integrity of the product”

    You know what ruins the integrity of the product? Pretty much everything that happens to it after you drink it. Actually, products don’t have integrity; people do. Even though all the people in this story think they have integrity, they’re all wrong.

  61. dbson says:

    I actually agree with the store on this one. If some guy threatened to burn down my house, I’d punch him in his tiny dick multiple times.

    As far as the racist question,

    ghetto: A section of a city where the Nazis forced all Jews to live. A ghetto was often sealed off with walls, barbed wire and armed guards…

    Nothing about cheap people, poor people. It’s a stupid term, but it’s not really racist.

  62. battra92 says:

    @chumleyex: The moral of the story? Don’t drink Coffee, it’s for girly men.

    Exactly so. At least not that coffee shop stuff. Now if you chew the grounds like they did in the Civil War, well then you have your man status back. ;)

    In all seriousness, both are wrong and both are jackasses. Epic Fail on both sides.

  63. SuffolkHouse says:

    I don’t know who I side with. The mistake here was the barista’s who failed to explain why what the customer was doing was wrong (isn’t the customer always right?). If someone wrote that on a tip to me, I’d kick his ass in the parking lot. No doubt. If a barista treated me this way, I’d go to Dunkin Donuts next time (because I won’t drink the burned swill at Starbucks).

    Worse than a can of Kerosene is sending in Starbucks lady from the iPhone 3G story. Send her in. She’ll ass-bump someone!

  64. puka_pai says:

    [W]hen we make our iced coffee, we go through the trouble of brewing it double-strength directly onto ice. If you brew coffee normally and then pour the hot coffee over ice, it results in unpleasant flavors.

    Again, not entirely sure why the different technique yields such different results, but it does.

    If he’s talking in the first part about brewing double-strength as opposed to normally, and he doesn’t know why it tastes different, then he’s an idiot. If he meant double-strength in both cases, then I’m calling bullshit. What’s the difference between brewing into a cup with ice and brewing into another container and then pouring it over the ice, provided that it’s brewed fresh when ordered?

    And people complain that Starbucks baristas are snobby! Does this guy see the Soup Nazi as a role model or what?

  65. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    @danger the pirate: Let’s not devolve the conversation here into a grammatical pissing match, okay?

  66. fjordtjie says:

    @opposablethumb: or “team members”–i hate that too!

    @Gokuhouse: i used to work somewhere they served coffee products, and they had us serve one shot of espresso in a medium (12 oz) cup and two shots in a large (16 oz) cup. i got the drift that it was similar to the large wine glass, little bit of wine method…maybe has something to do with appreciating all the senses with the fancy product? i didn’t really understand it, since actual espresso cups are so tiny, but that’s just me!

  67. howie_in_az says:

    lol interweb arguments over coffee. Customer, store owner, and coffee-making employees (‘baristas’) need to get over themselves. The store owner creating a blog and posting ‘bullshit’ and ‘damn’ and such just adds to the hilarity — it’s like a 12 year old learned his first curse words and uses them at every opportunity.

  68. Eels says:

    This is why I avoid coffee places like this and just make my own at home. I’d rather drink some Dunkin Donuts coffee out of a styrofoam cup than have a bunch of pretentious assholes looking down their noses at me for not ordering in the right lingo.

  69. castlecraver says:

    @misterdisco: Wow. Asshole owner complains about unscrupulous “ghetto latte” customers, but it turns out he’s got a history of tax fraud. I think that qualifies him as officially pwned.

  70. TWinter says:

    @dbson: ghetto: A section of a city where the Nazis forced all Jews to live. A ghetto was often sealed off with walls, barbed wire and armed guards…

    If you’re going to be pedantic at least be correct when you do it, the word ghetto originated in Italy for the neighborhood in Venice in which Jews were forced to live. The Nazi-era use of the term came much later. And the word has continued to evolve, e.g. the modern English usage for poor neighborhoods inhabited by minorities. That’s the ghetto referenced in ghetto latte

    And I do think ghetto latte has a whiff of racism. I also find it sort of odd since I’ve only ever seen middle class Asian and white women stir up this particular drink.

  71. dsolimini says:

    my wife has been on the receiving end of this Murky Coffee policy. It kind of drives her crazy. From our experience there, the whole “ghetto latte” thing seems to be a bit of a red herring — this place is just way too snotty about their coffee, is all… Hence, we tend not to go there anymore.

  72. JennQPublic says:

    href=”#c6687043″>BarryT: You seem to be implying that only one race of people lives in the ghetto. Otherwise, how could the term be “implicitly racist”?

  73. So it didn’t happen like this?

    Guy guess his espresso and ice
    Writes FU note on dollar
    Owner says don’t ever come back or I’ll punch you in the dick
    Guy says if he ever comes back it will be with kerosene and matches

    Because if that’s the way it happened it sounds like despite the inconsiderate note on the dollar, the owner threatened to punch him on the dick first.

  74. Mark 2000 says:

    This could have been avoided if the barista had explained why it wasn’t cool rather than being a douche and just saying “we dont do it”. I never take no for an answer with out being explained why in a store. Not feeling like he has to explain is a silly power trip and he deserves any insult he got.

  75. The-Tree says:

    do i think it is a lame policy?

    an an ex-owner of a coffee shop, yes.
    however as a consumer, and a consumer SICK of coporate places trying to back peddle and get out of things, I do enjoy Nick’s take on the whole situation, his honesty and his openness make the whole article worth reading. I don’t drink coffee, never have(weird I know), but I would stop by there for a good morning chai or tea of some kind, and tell him that even though he was a cock, I think what he stands for is refreshing and needed in this world that the pussification of America is in such full force

  76. Anonymous says:

    @coan_net: it helps if you read the articles

  77. LTS! says:

    This is hilarious in that it’s a problem that is so easily solved.

    First, as an owner, you can serve your coffee however you like and your customer base will be adjusted accordingly. To anyone who says they want it “their way” then this is not the place for you. Refusing to make something a certain way is not uncommon especially in the food industry. It’s an image they wish to portray, it’s their choice.

    Second, as an owner, simply do not give people ice. Let them know ice if simply for the making of drinks that are on the menu, we cannot serve you a cup of ice.

    Third, use smaller cups to avoid the ghetto latte and institute a policy that people with mugs can only have them filled.

    As a customer, just go elsewhere. Stop pretending that you are granted some inalienable right to tell a business owner how to operate. You aren’t. Your inalienable right is the freedom to vote with your wallet and go elsewhere.

    As for the financial side of this owner’s problems, they are truly irrelevant to the decision making in regards to his in store policies. I would argue that we do indeed need more people like him as customers are simply by and large too full of themselves anymore. A customer who is an asshole should be treated like one.

  78. krom says:

    Don’t mess with Murky Coffee. They are on the internets and will track you down and snark you. Viz: this February DCist post covering Murky’s closure due to failure to pay taxes.


    I suppose I just put a bullseye on my back. Well, I live in the city that invented pretentious American hipster espresso, so bring it on. :P

  79. JennQPublic says:

    @TWinter: There are plenty of ghetto people in my racially diverse town (plenty), and they’re not all minorities. It’s different from the the rednecks, which we also have, and which are mostly white. So, I guess redneck is a racist term.

    Also, I would bet that this guy did intend on making a ghetto latte. He just doesn’t want to admit it now, because then he couldn’t get all butthurt.

  80. krom says:

    So much for Murky Coffee’s notion of “quality”:


  81. Cupajo says:

    Fuck this owner and his coffee-snobbery. It may be an inferior product, but the customer wasn’t asking this dickhead owner to drink it. Just sell it.

    And the “ghetto latte” argument doesn’t fly either. If you put cream out as a free condiment, don’t get pissed off when people use it. If it’s going to be a problem, then don’t put it out. Simple as that. Or if you really want to get creative, make the double espresso shot as expensive (or more) than an actual latte. Problem solved.

    That would be like someone going into a steakhouse and ordering a porterhouse well done smothered in ketchup, then the chef comes out and says he won’t cook it that way. It may be disgusting, but it’s what the customer wants. Refusing to sell stuff is a good way to go out of business, which is what murky coffee probably deserves.

  82. Gweedle says:

    As someone who is *very* familiar with working service industry, I was elated to read this post. I am sick sick sick of people thinking that the customer is always right. The customer is, half the time, a self-centered finicky uptight pain in the a-hole.

    Businesses make rules for a reason. It is difficult to run a small business when trying to accommodate the demanding needs of customers. If you don’t like the way a restaraunt or store is run – just simply move on and don’t go there again. If the rule hurts the business more than what implemented the rule, they’ll eventually notice.

    Thank god the owner didn’t give in, I hate when these smug people get their way and think it pays to be a rude inconsiderate person.

    (This does not apply to the instances when the business is in the wrong, such as shockingly bad customer service. However, you can assume some of the time you hear those horror stories of bad customer service – it’s the customer omitting important details that would shed a little light on the scenario making it not as bad in the first place)

  83. @B: I thought the exact same thing, and came to one answer: elitism.

    The cashier wanted to tell this man what he could not do, rather than offer him an acceptable alternative. Only the corporate hardon of enforcing strict, cold policy could cause a cashier to roll their eyes, and call down a silly, snobby policy, rather than either asking if he would like the Americano, or just ringing it up, since it’s basically the same thing.

    It may be generalization, but I think it takes a certain type of person to work in a high-class private owned coffee shop. There is a level of exclusivity that they must feel like honored guardians of; and when an uncouth slob comes in, and sodomizes their precious artform, they must defend it.

  84. Xerloq says:

    You can’t control what your customers do with the product after they’ve purchased it, but you can control access to that product before the purchase.

    Seems the reasonable argument here is that the ghetto latte abuses the complimentary dairy product. Why not move the “complimentary” items behind the counter? Charge for a cup of ice, or the cup itself like movie theaters do?

    In the end, sounds like everyone in the story deserved to get punched. I’ll leave them to their $32 per gallon hot bean water.

  85. heycorey says:

    Too many great quotes from the owner … I’d offer him up a terrorist-fist jab, just for the humor.

  86. formergr says:

    I used to frequent the Eastern Market location of Murky Coffee before it was shutdown by the city for nonpayment of taxes. The baristas were pretty irritating and definitely had an attitude (and were slow as all heck), but I gotta say that their coffee was damned good.

    The first time I went it took forever to get my cappuccino, and I was thinking it so wasn’t worth it and getting more and more irritated in line, and then I tried it and realized it totally was worth it! Now it’s closed, and I think the rumor is that a new espresso shop is opening in its place that’s somehow still affiliated with the same owner dude?

  87. MercuryPDX says:

    I was waiting for this story to get here.

    “Hey man. What you’re about to do … that’s really, really Not Okay.”

    No…. No… you see this is my coffee that I paid for. If I wanted to urinate in it and then paint my walls at home with it, I can.

    The thing is Nick, there are these people called customers. Usually when they come into your store they want something. Your ability to make them give you money is solely dependent on you giving them what they need, and providing a nice experience. Do that often enough, and they will come back and give you MORE money. Otherwise (and curse me for saying this) there’s a Starbucks across the street that can and will pick up the slack for you.

    Don’t even get me started on “Ghetto Latte”….

  88. formergr says:

    @krom: Hey, great post from 2004.

  89. SOhp101 says:

    I actually agree with the coffee shop, but they just seem to be full of themselves. Part of being a business is maintaining some level of dignity, because if you’re right, people will stand up for you without you looking like a jackass in the process.

    This is similar to the whole receipt checking philosophy–yes, the shop’s actions (not selling expresso over ice) helps deter people from taking advantage (ghetto late), but it screws up innocent customers (like the OP) who just want to purchase a product.

    By the way, it doesn’t really hurt if someone punches your dick; it’s your balls that will cause you to scream.

    @castlecraver: Do tell. Or link.

  90. DanGross says:

    1.) “ghetto latte” – As mentioned, “right-size” the cups or do all cream behind the counter (“side” by request, if necessary…). And/or don’t charge $.50/$1 for 4oz of milk…Did he even make a “ghetto latte” out of it? And heck, can’t you make a “ghetto latte” out of an Americano as well??? Or does the tepid water magically make that impossible as well?
    2.) As mentioned, whatever “espresso on ice” does to the flavor of it, it is a flavor that the customer is used to and likes. People put Ketchup on chop house steaks…no different. And it is not so different than the Americano he actually got (and liked) for his second drink (read the story). The thing is that it’s probably quite likely those who order “espresso over ice” and get it are most probably getting an “Americano,” it’s just that the barista knows enough to translate the customer’s “bad coffee grammar” into “proper coffee grammar.” Had the barista offered up the “Americano light on water” in the first place as the best option instead of the “no can do,” problem pretty well solved. May not have been the ideal solution for Simmermon, but certainly not a blog-worthy failure in customer service.
    3.) He did not “threaten arson.” It wasn’t “I’ll be back there next week, and next time I’ll bring kerosene and matches.” It was an absurd statement of certainty over his desire not to return to the store. Had the owner taken to his own blog (or e-mail, or comments in the consumer’s blog) to apologize for the mix-up, say “our barista should have offered you the Americano up front rather than making you feel like you were about to blow the coffee shop up by mixing the explosive combination of espresso with ice without the important tepid water buffer. Let me treat you to a free Americano (or 5).”
    4.) Yeah, they both have acted immaturely, and what frustrates me the most is that idea that because he acted immaturely to me that I have not only the right but the compulsion to be immature back. At least in the current state Jeff has admitted that he acted as a jerk…

  91. dangermike says:

    While the owner does make a few decent points and has a refreshingly honest candor, I think he’s a bad manager.

    If it’s probably that people “abuse” the free milk and sugar, there’s a number of ways to deal with it that don’t involve high horses and internet pissing contests. First thing that comes to mind is charging the same amount for iced espresso as for a latte. Or the difference between the two for a cup of ice. If a customer complains, it’s easy to explain why the price difference exists. It’s WAY better from a customer service standpoint than deriding your and driving away your customers. Or create some kind of metering system where milk and sugar aren’t implicitly free, like perhaps some kind of coin operated system or charging for pre-measured aliquots of each. Then, up to 2 or 3 measures could be granted with the purchase of a drink and more than that would up the price.

    Ultimately, throwing out the argument that somebody is “doing it wrong” in how they consume what they’re purchasing is complete bull. It’s not totally inconceivable that someone might actually like the acrid flavors they’re trying to prevent (despite its currently waning stature, starbucks create an empire out of what I’ve always thought was disgustingly acrid brew), and then where does their policy leave them? Unable to hold onto a customer, that’s where.

  92. TVarmy says:

    @B: There is a big difference between espresso and an Americano. Americanos are shots of espresso diluted to the point that they are a similar strength and flavor to American coffee. The history behind them is that espresso cafes started making them in Europe back in WWII to satisfy American troops who wanted plain coffee.

    Espresso is coffee extracted from beans with hot water pumped over at high pressure, making for a thick, strong drink.

    There’s not much of a way to tell if this guy was planning on making a latte or not.

    I like the owner’s attitude. It’s refreshing to hear a business directly say what it means. Kinda like how that executive at Seagate freely admitted to a tech magazine that he knows most of his company’s hard drives are used for porn and that he doesn’t care. However, for something as simple as ice with your coffee, I don’t think that is too much to ask, even if it does ruin the flavor. It kind of reminds me of Jack Black’s character in High Fidelity, driving customers who wanted to buy pop music out of the store.

  93. AdvocatesDevil says:

    So the owner of this joint likes to punch people in the dick and he doesn’t pay his taxes? We’re supposed to side with him why? He’s everything that’s wrong with companies today, just on a smaller scale.

  94. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    Arguing on the internet is like playing in the special olypics.

    Even if you win, you’re still a retard.


  95. DashTheHand says:

    My stance is “Thanks for ‘protecting me’ from danger flavor, but if I decide I want to drink battery acid on the rocks, sell me the acid and a cup of ice and leave me the hell alone.”

  96. misterdisco says:

    @formergr – Did you really think it was better than Port City, or anywhere else nearby? I’m fully aware that Port City is quasi-lame, but their smoothies and mocha freezes are absolutely excellent.

    There’s also Ebeneezer’s, but that’s more toward Union Station – and it’s affiliated with the Christian right, or so I’ve been told. Yuck.

  97. Doublenix says:

    I’m sorry, but I have to side with the owner on this one. Sure, their policy sucks and I would have just ordered my drink just the way this guy did. Problem is, he lost any credibility he had when he wrote his little phrase on the ‘tip’.

    Yes, he has the right to free speech and to voice his objection about a ridiculous policy. However, doing it in that way makes any and all arguments he makes null and void. He would have been better served by calling the manager over and having a loud, but logical argument in front of all the guests. If that didn’t work, (which we know it likely wouldn’t), handing out flyers in front of the store would have been much more useful. Either of these would have much less confrontational and he could have even picked up some supporters of his cause.

    If you are going to protect a policy, do it in the right manner. There are plenty of ways of doing it without making yourself looking like a fool.

  98. dangermike says:

    And now that I think about it, I kind of wonder how much milk they throw away at the end of the day. They can’t leave it out for hours on end and serve it again the next day. So I can’t really see this whole “ghetto latte” thing being such a big issue. After all, as I hinted toward before, if it is cost issue, it would take an absolute business flunkee to not be able to find a way to recoup whatever perceived loss would be incurred by such customer behavior. It might even be that lattes are severely overpriced vis a vis espresso, and that shrinking that difference could improve the bottom line.

  99. theblackdog says:

    92 comments and not one about “OP should make his own iced coffee at home” I’m impressed, I’d say the comment code must be working.

    Back on topic: Was this the OP’s first time going to Murky coffee (Jeff’s blog is refusing to load for me)? If the policy really has been there since 2006, then it seems like he would have known it then, unless an employee was not following the policy.

  100. Another wonderful Consumerist post where both the customer and the merchant have neither grace or class.

    Also, in Washington people are very very very very serious about their coffee. And so this whole discussion has to be taken in a slightly different context.

  101. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    Oh and Ben, I aggree with you on principle, however, they have the right not to serve a particular product, ie iced esspresso. Just like a restaurant can say no substitutions or a buffet can say, no take out.

  102. dragonvpm says:

    Ok, this has been bugging me through all the comments.

    What the childish customer said probably would not qualify as an arson threat (or at least it wouldn’t pre-post-9/11-1984-Amerika). It was hyperbole akin go saying “over my dead body”. Seriously folks, this is nothing more than a couple of grown men who have the maturity level of 5 year olds having a pissing contest over cup of over-priced coffee and airing all their dirty laundry on the internet.

    For various reasons it’s probably a good example of how not to act as either a business owner or a customer, but I doubt many of us would be that childish or elitist so it’s not really a big deal regardless of who was less wrong.

  103. kathyl says:

    Remove milk pitcher, require customers to get said milk from your employees, and go back to letting people order espresso over ice if they want it, even if you think it tastes bad. If someone takes advantage of you with ghetto latte or whatever, prevent them from doing so without barring other customers from ordering perfectly reasonable products.

    Unless it’s a policy put in place just to get people to order more expensive drinks because it’s either those frakking $15 cups of frakking foofy coffee, a still-overpriced but less expensive cup of regular joe, or the highway.

    Personally, I think all coffee tastes like battery acid, so I’m 100% sure I couldn’t tell the difference even given all the ascorbic acid explanations that either have a scientific basis or don’t.

    Oh, and threatening customers and leaving threatening notes in the tip jar? Both asinine and juvenile. Just for the record.

  104. Eels says:

    @dangermike: Having formerly worked in a coffee shop, oh yes they can leave that milk out and then serve it again. The creamer and milk were in those insulated carafes and at the end of the day if they were half full or more we poured them back into the carton. If there was less than that, we dumped it. I have no idea if this was sanitary or whatever, but for 7 bucks an hour I most certainly didn’t give a crap.

  105. RandomMutterings says:

    This is hilarious. I frequent Murky Coffee in Arlington at least once per week. To say they are coffee snobs is the understatement of the century — there should probably be a Wikipedia entry. They offer coffee “cupping” (tasting) classes, etc.

    This same establishment sells, in wintertime, two versions of hot chocolate — one for about $3, and another version $5. The $5 version is known as “$5 Hot Chocolate – No questions.”

    They mean it — they won’t tell you what’s in their proprietary ingredients for the hot chocolate or even really let you watch them make it. Really, they won’t answer any questions at all about it. Is it the best D$($ hot chocolate I’ve ever had? Yes. It is worth $5? Probably. Will it lead to some kind of food allergy claim in the future that will put Nick Cho out of business for good — unpaid taxes or not — likely.

    The coffee there IS really good. Really, really good. The owner is . . . odd. But he makes a great coffee. Just don’t ask about the hot chocolate or you might get your dick punched.

  106. reiyaku says:

    dude! the owner is awesome! love the comeback! oh also, i think he should have mentioned that they reserve the right to whether serve a guest or not.

  107. ras_d says:

    jesus christ – to the shop owner -> “shut the fuck up about your gay coffee policy and give me whatever the fuck I want to order”

    If I want my own piss over ice, I don’t need some college dropoutradiohead listening jack kerouac reading barista fag to tell me I cant have it

  108. Aphex242 says:

    @LTS!: Amen, re: the owner’s financial situation having no bearing here. The issue is about customer entitlement (or lack thereof). The customer is obviously an asshole, plain and simple.

    If you don’t like the policy, don’t shop there. Certainly don’t buy TWO things there. Vote with your wallet if you don’t like a store’s policies, don’t give them your money, act like a jerkoff in the process, and then go vamp on some blog somewhere about how wronged you were.


  109. bonzombiekitty says:

    @mbouchard: If you use a small cup, you can’t put enough ice that keeps the hot espresso from melting it all. If the hot espresso melts all the ice, then you just end up with a lukewarm, waterdowned espresso.

    Which makes me wonder if the guy that ordered it did indeed want to make a ghetto latte. Because why would you want a big cup of ice with just a tiny bit of espresso in it?

    The barista figured that was what he had planned to do and called him on it.

  110. MercuryPDX says:

    @DanGross: As mentioned, whatever “espresso on ice” does to the flavor of it, it is a flavor that the customer is used to and likes…… it’s just that the barista knows enough to translate the customer’s “bad coffee grammar” into “proper coffee grammar.”

    Yes, which is why I always have to qualify “Iced Espresso… not an Americano, don’t water it, just espresso over ice.” :)

    Also, I can understand why they have “cutesy names” for everything but when I ask for a “large iced coffee with a shot of espresso”, don’t repeat in a condescending tone “Don’t you mean ‘A Cold Shot in the Dark’?”. If I don’t see what I’m asking for on ‘your’ description-less menu board and order in “english”, that should be enough. I want to order coffee and get out, not hold up ‘your’ line for 20 minutes asking “What’s that? Uh-huh… and That? Mmmmm and That?” until I discover the mystical combination of words that unlocks my order. I’ll listen for what ‘you’ call out and order it “that way” next time…. if ‘your’ attitude doesn’t turn me off and there IS a next time.

  111. chrisjames says:

    Jeff, the customer, worked within the rules of the coffee shop and spoke up when mistreated: good. Nick, the owner, spoke his mind and responded without attempted placation or diversion: good. Jeff and Nick gave rude and childish backlash: bad.

    You guys can be open and forthright with each other, but you won’t get anyone’s sympathy acting like children, except maybe other children. Grow up, fellas.

  112. bonzombiekitty says:

    @solareclipse2: No, it happened like this:

    Guy wants iced espresso, barista says they don’t serve that.
    Guy orders an espresso and a cup of ice
    Barista gives it to him, and tells him what he’s about to do is not cool (I’m guessing the barista figured he was gonna make a ghetto latte).
    Guy writes nasty note on the tip
    Guy goes home and blogs about the incident, saying that if he comes back it will be with kerosene and matches.
    Owner of store replies threatening to punch guy in dick for threatening arson.

  113. moore850 says:

    i for one welcome our new ghetto latte drinking, dick punching, kerosene-based arson threatening overlords.

  114. tdicola says:

    No questions will be answered about the $5 hot chocolate? Really? Not even ‘is this safe for my gluten / nut / etc. allergy?’

    As an owner he has every right to whatever ridiculous policies, but as a consumer I’ll choose to spend my money elsewhere.

  115. AMetamorphosis says:

    @The-Tree: AMEN !

    Very Well said !

  116. mizmoose says:

    @AMetamorphosis: AMEN.

    I sentence them both to a Hell where they spend eternity with nothing to drink but warm diet coke.

    Warm *expired* diet coke, just for humour value.

  117. joel. says:

    I’m pretty sure I’d buy their coffee just for their attitude. Of course, I like being an elitist.

  118. ravensfire says:

    A shop cannot control what people do with the products they have purchased, but a shop can control what products they sell. In this case, if espresso over ice is not on the menu, the shop is not required to sell it. The shop could choose to sell espresso over ice, but it is not required to because it is not advertising that it does sell it.

  119. swagv says:

    Nick and I have gotten into tussles online for years. But he’s right here. Some customers need to be fired, and a business needs to preserve its core or have its brand strategy be at the whims of the next jamoke who walks in and offers two dollars for a special order.

  120. failurate says:

    Lost his shop, lost his wife, lost credibility… for Christ sake dude, hire an accountant!

  121. Gouda says:

    I’m confused by the anger over milk usage. I am under the assumption that milk and sugar is built into the price of the drinks, at least at most American coffee shops (I am sure Italians would gasp at the light and sweet coffee I drink). It seems ridiculous to bitch about customers adding milk to their coffee or espresso, that’s like bitching when someone wants ketchup for their fries.

  122. picardia says:

    Regardless of the customer’s subsequent blog rudeness, I have to say that any store that attempted to tell me what I couldn’t do with my coffee after I bought it is not a store I would be going to ever again. So what if the precious molecules in the coffee do this or that or whatever when they hit the ice? If I want to put ketchup in my latte after I’ve paid for it, then it’s none of their business.

    (Note: I have never, and will never, knowingly put ketchup in my latte. Figure of speech.)

  123. poetry1mind says:

    I also have to take sides with the owner. Afterall, the customer was given the expresso and ice. So, there was no need to write anything nasty on the tip or blog about it. From what the owner mentioned about the drink being mixed with ice, I would not have wanted it for my self. However, we are all different. I still think it was very immature of the customer.

  124. I just wanted to thank this post for introducing me to the term “ghetto latte” which almost trumps the “figging” term I found on the internet yesterday.

  125. tedyc03 says:

    @flintstone03: Where do you think I’m going after work?

  126. jonbruc says:

    I’ll point out that their Washington, DC branch was closed down for not paying their taxes. Puts the iced-espresso concern in perspective.

  127. Anonymously says:

    @opposablethumb: Great post! I wouldn’t have stopped to think about this otherwise.

    They could serve the drink in a very small cup, but someone could pour it into a mug and make their ghetto latte anyway.

  128. chiggers says:

    It’s wise to give your customers a bit of freedom around the condiment counter – even if they are “abusing” the dairy a bit. Doing so will avoid the inevitable backlash that is to occur. If the “abuse of the condiment counter” is cutting into the bottom line, and it very well is, I would advise the owner of the establishment to raise prices across the board by a few cents. When people complain – just say what everyone else says – cost of supplies/ingredients are going up and I must pass that onto the consumer.

  129. Lithium542 says:

    Starbucks endorses the “Ghetto Latte”


    Not to mention if his business model is that tight, he needs to run a dollar store and not a coffee bar. I mean really, how many schmucks do that? I have *never* seen it done, and I hang out in coffee shops like an addict on the corner.

  130. tmed says:

    I think it’s like the iPhone. Can’t you just picture Jobsey threatening to punch someone in his dick for hacking his “precious”.

  131. masterthundar says:

    “This all leads to a whole thing about consumerism that I’ve been ranting about for years, but this is neither the time nor place for that.”

    You mean the exact same thing that keeps your business alive? Dumbass.

  132. Whitey Fisk says:

    Arson threat? Not at all cool and completely uncalled for.

    That said, Nick Cho is the real dick here who needs a good punching. Cho owns a business which proffers overpriced coffee to a customer base for which he clearly feels nothing but contempt. Then he complains about “consumerism.” That’s a friggin’ hoot.

  133. coan_net says:

    @catdogpigduck: I read the article – but like I said, they added a lot to the article AFTER I posted.

    I can not be held responsible for what does – sorry.

  134. formergr says:

    @misterdisco: For their capuccinos and hot chocolates, yes definitely. If we’re talking just a regular brewed coffee, than no there wasn’t that much of a difference. Port Java has totally decent coffee, and I’m there quite a bit now, but the caps at Murky really were different than anything I’ve tried…

  135. The owner’s long, winding response was great.

    The rest of the crap was childish antics. Go to your corners, count to 10 and come out crying.

  136. falc says:

    am i the only one that noticed the ‘Two Slits’ Quantum Physics reference?

    “Again, not entirely sure why the different technique yields such different results, but it does. If we put the coffee through two slits, it’d probably act all confusingly then too.”

    weird… i just watched that youtube video from digg yesterday…
    dickish owner and bitchy customer aside, i found that interesting

  137. formergr says:

    @jonbruc: Thanks for being the first person to post that here!

  138. TPS Reporter says:

    Sounds to me quite frankly that they are both dicks.

  139. kc2idf says:

    @Bladefist: Wow! You actually sided with a customer?!?

  140. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    So rare that I can say this, but both guys are morons. But the coffee shop guy is a bigger moron.

    You buy the product, you can do whatever the hell you want with it. Including pour it over ice.

  141. AgentTuttle says:

    I understand where Hick is coming from now after seeing the original story on Boing Boing. But the point is: The guy LIKES it that way, so give it to ’em. You don’t have to put it on the menu.

  142. chiggers says:

    @falc: Nick Cho is probably spending too much of his time reading reddit/digg and not enoughtime worrying about his $400,000 of back taxes.

  143. MDT says:

    Really, at the end of the day no one needs to get in a profanity laced tirade over their desire for any espresso derived beverage. Whatever moral high ground you’d like to cede to Mr. Customer evaporates the minute he starts swearing at an employee.

    Leaving the scrawled-on dollar ups that ante to full-blown asshole.

    I don’t know what it is about the internet that obliterates perspective and makes everyone feel completely entitled to what they want at any given moment and validates bottomless indignation when denied their whims but you can certainly see it in action here.

    What should have happened, in my opinion is that as soon as the customer crossed the line (swearing at staff) he should have been asked to leave. The coffee shop is a private business. Anyone creating a disturbance should be asked to go.

    The shop owners response was overblown and unfortunate in that the barista caught in the middle is now taking flack for his bosses hot head.

  144. Shadowman615 says:

    Sure the owner has the right to only serve coffee the way he wants to. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to refuse to give a customer what he wants, but whatever — I understand the desire to keep a certain level of quality.

    But the owner pretty much gave up any moral high ground he might have had by his response to this whole thing. Now both parties sound like a couple of jackasses to me.

  145. Stormslanding says:

    Applekid is right. Either we would be hearing about how crappy the coffee was, or what were involved in right now. Its a no win situation with the owner.

    Responsibility for taste is negated once you decide to do whatever you want to the drink. If some jerk wanted to put ketchup in his coffee, fine with me, just don’t bitch about it when it tastes like shit.

  146. joebobfunguy says:

    I love the owner’s attitude that if he doesn’t like the drink he won’t serve it.

  147. katylostherart says:

    so… arlington has at least three idiots in residence?

  148. katiat325 says:

    I haven’t been at the coffee shop, but I would assume that what they serve is posted somewhere for people to see. If they don’t serve it, don’t serve it. Being served at any store or eating establishment is a privilege, and not a right. Although I do disagree on the whole punching-you-in-the-dick comment, I do support the owner in following his store’s policy. And as to the OP, I mean really, can’t he blog about something else other than coffee? That’s the biggest upset of his summer? And here I was worrying about my bank maybe closing down; but, I should be worrying whether a coffee place is serving espresso over ice or not.

  149. SigmundTheSeaMonster says:

    @misterdisco: Whoa! This guy takes in $40-$50K/month and can’t afford $100/month in milk or Half-n-Half?

    If I knew folks were “ghetto-espressoing”, I’d absorb the extra creamer cost into the raised espresso price!

    They both deserve a cock-punch.

  150. bagumpity says:

    Regarding the ersatz latte issue: If the coffee shop puts out items for free consumption, they are considered an offering with implied restrictions. An implied restriction is something that a reasonable person would understand regarding the amount and/or use of the item. For instance, even though a hot-dog stand has a pot of free relish you can’t just go up and help yourself to a spoonful. You have to buy a hot-dog first, and the amount you take has to be appropriate to the size of the hot-dog. Even though Ruby Tuesday puts fifteen pink packets on the table doesn’t mean you can use one and stuff the other fourteen in your purse. These sorts restrictions don’t need to be posted. It’s enough that a reasonable person would understand them. Thus, it should be obvious that the purchase of a latte shot and cup of ice does not entitle one to an entire cup of milk and ten sugars. In fact, it is theft. Petty theft, by petty people, but theft nonetheless. You could be arrested, although it’s highly unlikely that you would (Officer! Officer! Arrest him- he took too many sugars!!!)

  151. Angryrider says:

    Boo hoo hoo. So you didn’t get your coffee. You don’t have to whine about it on the internet.

  152. almondwine says:

    I drink coffee at Murky all the time, and now I’m going to make a point to do it even more. There are crappy coffee shops (Starbucks, Barnes and Noble) only blocks from Murky, and if Jeff wanted crappy coffee he could’ve gone there. But he picked a coffee shop well-known in the area for being pretentious about its product.

    For example, everybody living in central Arlington knows that Murky doesn’t sell French-roast coffee because they believe that French roast coffee ruins the grounds.

    This is really a open-and-closed case of “bad consumer!” for picking a shop that even a high schooler knows won’t serve him the sad-ass excuse for crappy product he was looking for. You don’t go to a white-linen restaurant to ask for Chicken McNuggets, so don’t go to Murky to ask for crappy coffee.

  153. Charmander says:

    Okay, I take issue with the idea of the “public threat of arson.” I don’t see how saying he’s never going back to the coffee place – unless he’s got matches and kerosene – is threatening anyone at all.

    Basically he’s saying he’s never coming back, no how no way. He’s not saying he’s going to commit arson. He’s saying he’s not coming back EVER, and qualifying it with some humor, albeit not to everyone’s taste. But I do find it funny.

  154. Nick the coffee shop owner wins this one!

  155. jpdanzig says:

    It sounds like a pissing — excuse me — urinating match between Frasier and Niles Crane. Just two more reasons to save money and make a much better cup of coffee at home, served with NO attitude.

  156. ludwigk says:

    Adding ice to hot espresso might cause some of the flavor compounds to crystalize and precipitate out of solution. That would give the espresso a deadened flavor compared to one that was tempered through room temperature water first.

    The solution is not to be a dick, and close the fucking loop hole! If the cst wants an espresso with a cup of ice, or any combination of Espresso, cup, ice, that would result in a ghetto latte, just charge them for an iced latte. Explain that up front:

    “Sir, I can give you your order, but any order of Espresso and Ice will be charged as an “Iced Coffee”, which costs the same as an “Iced Latte”.”

    Was that so hard? No. You can thank me later.

  157. futonrevolutionary says:

    This is an example of how a business should be run. Businesses should not kiss the customer’s ass to the point that they think they’re so entitled to the usually trivial service or product that the business is selling that they can disregard company policies. All this attitude does is create pushy, demanding customers. When you go to a coffee shop, you order from a list of products. There are some customizations available, but no one would expect to be able to be served a large cup of vanilla syrup. You buy the products that they offer. If they say they won’t sell you something that isn’t on the list of what they serve, that’s their right. Can I order ketchup wholesale from Burger King? They have it available, right? No. Of course not. And why not? They’re a burger place, not a ketchup dealer.

    If this guy wants to take advantage of an independent shop owner by exploiting a loophole in the menu system and he isn’t able to do so, he does not have any right to bitch and moan about it. The customer is not always right.

  158. varro says:

    @mbouchard: Or use mini-creamers, or a big sign over the condiment bar – “If you want a latte, order one – do not use an excessive amount of milk/half-and-half”.

  159. varro says:

    @RandomMutterings: Ah, like Stumptown in Portland, where many a customer is served coffee by smug skinny-jeans-wearing hipsters…

  160. varro says:

    @mizmoose: Or worse….weak Folger’s served by a pudgy middle-aged lady with big hair and attitude.

  161. HurfDurf says:

    I read a lot of the comments, not all. It became very obvious that the barista could have done a lot better in explaining what may happen to their precious coffee if poured over ice to this customer.
    The fact that he added the spooky line about how it’s “really REALLY NOT O.K”, just makes him out to be a fool, and therefore, subject to ridicule.
    The owner could do a lot more as well, as earlier posters have noted. Possibly with educational materials in and around the store.
    I do get the feeling that as a customer, “you just don’t understand” is like a barista mantra, which is another reason why I drink my coffee at home or work while easily avoiding situations such as these.
    The passive aggressive comment on the dollar, and the resulting blogging about it is really where these things go naturally. There’s really not much else you’re going to do about it but laugh.

  162. Nick is a dickhead. I foresee his company going out of business very soon.

  163. torgeaux says:

    How about serving the darn thing in a cup too small to make a ghetto latte?

    The incident would have ended with no problems if the waiter had just not said anything when he gave him his order. But, no, they had to editorialize. Then the owner makes a dick of himself. I work very near this place, but I guess I won’t be giving them any business.

  164. snowburnt says:

    the owner had me until he tried to defend the the barista from telling him that it wasn’t ok. I’m with Kathyl,

    Take the milk pitcher away. Quit blogging and run your coffee shop.

  165. con378 says:

    Jeff could have handled this situation much more effectively if he would have instead responded to David’s comment with a combination of surprise/snark (within the lines of respectability of course).

    I’ve been to that Murky Coffee a couple of times. My impression is that “elitist” is hardly a label they would shun.

  166. louveciennes says:

    “Espresso is a fairly volatile thing, and when it hits ice, it seems to go through a chemical change that we can’t fully explain (and I haven’t seen a good explanation within our industry quite yet).”

    Translation: No rational explanation for this pahontom phenomenom exists, because I totally just made it up.”

    What an assclown. This is why I make my own coffee.

  167. drjayphd says:

    Didn’t know Kyle Farnsworth owned a coffee shop…

  168. Coelacanth says:

    Here’s a solution – if the ghetto latte is so infamous, why not keep the milk and the half-and-half behind the counter. Force the customer to specify how their coffee’s made.

    Only the abusers lose.

    However, refusing to serve a drink against a customer’s wishes when it doesn’t really involve going out of their way (except to think of the horrible, horrible thought that the unrefined customer might be drinking a less-than-perfect beverage.)

    Sure, you might know how to make a perfect cup of coffee, but the other person ordered his espresso over ice simply because … (gasp!) he probably likes the way it tastes!

  169. IndyJaws says:

    This whole “ghetto latte” think has me worried I’m doing something wrong. I’ll get a regular iced coffee from Starbucks, then add some skim (couple of oz.), mainly because I want the coffee flavor, rather than a bunch of milk and a bit of coffee. Am I violating some kind of unwritten code, or is the small amount of milk I’m adding acceptable?

  170. Fly Girl says:

    Whoa. As a Seattleite, I was totally into this until I realized it was DC and not WA State… Bummer.

    I can vouch for the fact that ordering an iced espresso is completely acceptable and common here in Seattle, and we take our coffee VERY seriously. (Arguable, more seriously than anywhere else in the country. If it’s good enough for Seattle, it’s good enough for ANYWHERE.)

    How much is a gallon of milk, especially when you’re buying wholesale, anyways? A couple bucks? Even if people WERE taking advantage of the milk-as-condiment situation, is it even possible that it get to the point where it was actually causing a financial hardship for the business owner? I have a hard time buying that. If the coffee biz is so tough that the milk is make-or-break, I think that the shop owner has bigger fish to fry. Or beans to roast. Or whatever.

    The argument the owner tried to make, in justifying the de facto ban on iced espresso, that “over half” of the people that order iced espressos are covert milk thieves by way of the “ghetto latte” (which is, in fact, an incredibly offensive phrase) is utter and complete BS. A pretty decent percentage of people WANT their coffee black. Not everyone is guzzling up the dairy products, thankyouverymuch.

    What amount of milk constitutes the “ghetto latte?” How is there SO MUCH ROOM in the cup that the “guest” can add SO MUCH MILK that it’s costing the shop serious money? Chances are, the iced espresso drinking “guests” that use the condiments are adding no more than the amount of milk that a drip coffee drinker, or an Americano drinker, who likes cream adds to their beverage.

    Does the shop owner look over the shoulders of ANYONE who orders a drink sans dairy to verify the EXACT amount of milk that they’re adding and cutting people off at the condiment/ghetto latte threshold? How is the iced espresso so different from any other non-milk containing beverage?

    Besides, there’s NO WAY that the three shots of espresso, disposable plastic cup, and scoop of ice adds up to the $4.50 or whatever they are charging for the iced espresso. The cost of the condiments is figured in, right there, in the cost of the drink.

    This business owner is dumb, plain and simple. Does he have a right to refuse to serve iced espressos? Sure, of course. But he’s still dumb And a shitty business owner.

    One final gem, besides the whole back-taxes thing… He claims to take his coffee SO SRSLY but… THEY DON’T ROAST THEIR OWN BEANS?!?! WHAT THE HELL?! Even the most mid-range of coffee places here in Seattle roast their own beans– THAT is how you have quality control– not by adding tepid water before cold water or whatever mumbo-jumbo the store owner was spouting off about. Also: they serve drip?! Most of the “real” espresso shops here in Seattle do NOT serve drip. It’s an Americano or nothing. For someone who claims to be so dedicated to the quality (“integrity?”) of his product, to the point that he’s willing to piss of and alienate customers, he’s sure not going about it in the right way.

    There is a difference between taking your product, business, and passions seriously and in being a faux-expert pretentious/elitist fuckwad. This guy sounds like a perfect example of the latter.

    Real coffee can be fund here: []

  171. tundey says:

    I am on the side of the business owner. Just because you have money doesn’t make you God. And if the guy doesn’t want your business, why do you have to resort to defacing American currency? This customer acted like a jerk and he got treated like one. He should be glad the coffee shop owner didn’t call the cops on him over his arson threat.

  172. tundey says:

    What’s funny about matches and kerosene? Unless it’s Guy Fawkes day, there’s nothing funny about matches and kerosene.

  173. Phantom_Photon says:

    I’m with the owner on this one.

    If the customer doesn’t like a policy, go elsewhere.

    Sure the staff may have overstepped their bounds, but so did Jeff in the end. What Jeff did was out of line with what he should have done (formal complaint). Two wrongs do not make a right.

    Once Jeff had escalated this as he did with his comments, it is unfair to complain that the owner fired back at him in like manner. Like the owner said: If you dish it out, be prepared to receive it back.

    Congrats to the owner for backing his staff and understanding the customer is NOT always right. As a customer service rep, I can tell you this is true more often than you’d think.

  174. mermaidshoes says:

    from the coffee shop site:

    “One day, after getting sick of being fired (or close to it) from pretty much every job he ever had, Nicholas Cho decided to look into starting his own business.”

    gee, i wonder why anyone would ever fire nick… he’s got such a good attitude.

  175. jvandub says:

    I think the owner makes valid points. He’s trying to sell a quality product and people are shitting all over it. You wanna save a dollar by making a ghetto latte, go fuck yourself. Save a dollar by not going out for a iced latte and make it at home. Stovetop espresso makers cost $15. Pour that shit over ice, don’t take advantage of a small business owner you street rats.

  176. MrMold says:

    Umm he did threaten arson and should re-think his desire to extract status when we all no know him to be a whine.

    The customer is often right, but just as equally an @ss. Remove adequate response to @sshole customer as a fireable offense and see what happens…Oh yeah…France…where waiters of 20+ years experience to not defer to UglyMerican fratheads.

    You-all should go back to StateU and sign up for Logic 101. A person may be A-a fantastic purveyor of coffee and not B-a financial whiz. My bud ran the absolute best restaurant in the county…finances took him out. Yet McCorporate’s thrives.

    Better get used to more storekeepers throwing your Entitled @sses out. You’re not worth the grief your pittance costs.

  177. Shaggy says:

    Nick Cho is REAL MAN OF GENIUS!

    Thank you Mr. Coffee Shop Owner Man for telling it like it is and calling the jackass customer out!

    Seriously Nick is my hero for speaking his mind even if it means he will lose some customers over it.

    Don’t worry Nick, those clowns are not the type of customer you want to come into your shop anyway….

  178. primo.avanti says:

    this is kind of like going to mcdonalds and asking for a double cheeseburger with an extra bun and a big mac sauce, it might be cheaper than the sandwich but it is a loophole. while it certainly is dishonest and deceptive, i believe it is the manager/owners option and right to deny such ‘loop-hole’ practices. if you dont like it, you dont have to eat/drink there. simple as that

  179. shini says:

    Why didn’t the register chump who said no iced lattes give a half assed explanation as to why and then say, but we do offer iced americanos.

    Why did the barista… Who should, as a coffee handling professional at that store, know why they don’t offer that beyond “it’s really not OK.”

    Both these guys acted like douchenozzles, but I can’t help but think a light dusting of customer service would have prevented these two nozzles from crossing their streams. I feel dirty having written that sentence.

  180. lingum says:

    I don’t drink this chocolatemilksugarcoffee crap.

    That said…..just stop it. You make a beverage. You don’t save lives, you make coffee. You don’t put shuttles into space, you don’t come up with life saving drugs. You solve NO problems facing mankind. You are not an artist, an artiste, or whatever your calling yourself to justify the fact that you make 6 bucks an hour to fetch….my….coffee.

    Snotty hipster douchebags might think twice about who they are asses to. Do it to the wrong guy, and you might end up with a screwdriver buried to the hilt in your eye socket. It wasn’t all that long ago that DC was the murder capital of the US.

  181. Jon R. says:

    The owner sounds like a pretentious fool:

    “Q. What’s wrong with “espresso over ice?”
    Answer: Espresso is a fairly volatile thing, and when it hits ice, it seems to go through a chemical change that we can’t fully explain (and I haven’t seen a good explanation within our industry quite yet). It does appear to have something to do with ascorbic acid, but when”

    That’s because he’s making that crap up. He thinks the flavor of whatever minute amount of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in coffee changes when it gets cold? Pretentious excuses. He should just give his customer what he wants and shut up.

  182. glycolized says:

    Yay for coffee shop owner. What a perfectly well-reasoned response. Put me in the 40% supportive column.

  183. afrix says:

    Coffee nazi!

    No coffee for YOU!

  184. parkerjh says:

    Kudos to the owner. The customer is not always right.

  185. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @LINIS: Good coffee is expensive.

  186. mr mike says:

    Fucking coffee nazis

  187. mr mike says:


    Damn you beat me to it. Maybe I should read posts before posting.

  188. unleashed says:

    I’m on the owners side. Fuck you, Jeff Simmermon.

  189. PricklyPete says:

    Perhaps I’m just immature, but I actually laughed out loud when I read that a business had threatened to “punch” a customer in his “dick”

    The story wasn’t as amusing as the headline, but it sure got my attention.

  190. redsox says:

    The person who mentioned this as an episode of seinfeld pretty much hit the nail on the head. But our coffee shop owner makes a terrible Soup Nazi.

    Obviously the customer was a bit of a dick but even so I have to side with him for the following reasons.

    The view that the customer is always right is not always true however I find it disturbing that many employees feel that the customer is always wrong. Most people are intelligent enough to tell you what they want and don’t need an arrogant employee to tell them what they need.

    The barista most likely failed to explain to Jeff the reasons behind their policy. If they had taken the time to explain and the customer still wanted the iced espresso then I feel they should have given it to them. I also believe the barista should have asked if they had planned on making a ghetto latte and if they were, ask them gently not to. If they didn’t listen, all they would have to do is ask them to leave. This isn’t customer service, this is plain old treating people decently and more importantly to Murky’s, educating the populice about the coffee they care so much about. Perhaps showing Jeff the amount of care and attention to the drinks being made would have prevented this from happening and made them a repeat customer.

    I also feel the owner of Murky Coffee should have taken the high road in this case. Threatening your customers is bordering on insane. He should have reached out and asked Jeff to come back and perhaps taken him into the green room and shown him how to make the perfect coffee and why they have the policy. Offer him a couple drinks on the house, perhaps even have him brew a couple of his own espressos…especially with this kind of publicity on the blogosphere, they could have easily turned this bad situation into a positive one for both Jeff and Murkys.

    People need to think about what they are going to say before they do say it. The owner of Murky Coffee reacted poorly and reflects bad on his business.

  191. RabbitDinner says:

    Ah, yes, the beauty of being self-employed, as Mr. Cho shows us

  192. forgottenpassword says:

    fancy coffee is apparrently…. serious business.

    LMAO @ “ghetto latte”

  193. SAGoon987 says:

    I don’t get the problem. If they don’t want to serve a drink, they don’t have to. The OP is an ass.

    I like those restaurants that won’t let you make mistakes. There’s a pizza place in Washington state that will only allow a customer three toppings, and only two can be meat. I hear the dumbest orders all the time from people, ruining their food. I support this company and do not support the OP’s passive/aggressive tip leaving and otherwise asshole behavior.

  194. Meathamper says:

    I’ve always wanted to write insults on dollar bills, but I might get shot.

  195. afrix says:

    @almondwine: “There are crappy coffee shops (Starbucks, Barnes and Noble) only blocks from Murky, and if Jeff wanted crappy coffee he could’ve gone there. But he picked a coffee shop well-known in the area for being pretentious about its product.”

    So what if it’s well-known in the area? If he’s not from the area, how would he know?

    Am I, not a resident of the area, visiting some friends there, supposed to magically “know” things about this freaking coffee shop? Am I supposed to magically “know” just what is “proper behavior” as defined by the owner and those who are from the area and who frequent this joint?

    Or am I supposed to behave rationally and expect that if I want it over ice, I can get it–because in the real world, that’s not a big deal.

    You’re putting some aura around this joint and the owner’s magical mystical ways of creating an experience in a cup. Big freaking deal.

    That all being said, the owner could easily do it his way. If the owner truly believes any of this that he’s shoveling, he should take people like the OP and bring them around to understanding it the owner’s way. “Oh, you want it over ice? Here, let me show you a better way. Here–here’s your bit straight over ice. Now let me show you how it should really be done–see what you think.” If it truly is better, and most people think so, lead the customer to understand that.

    Or not. Maybe he likes mud over ice. If so, that’s his prerogative. Some guys like redheads, some like blondes. It’s not right or wrong, it just is. You’re in business to sell stuff, you have espresso and cups and ice–so if he likes it that way, just do it.

    As far as “ghetto latte”: if you have a couple of days for some good reading, go back to the original discussion:


  196. joecoolest says:

    My opinion… the owner is a coffee snob who thinks everyone who puts more than a dash/splash on cream in a coffee is out to bilk him out of the $2 he wants to charge for .20 cents worth of milk.

  197. mac-phisto says:

    @misterdisco: <—winner. seriously, awesome dig on back story. alert the bloghounds.

    tax cheats don’t get to complain about coffee hacks.

  198. LittleEnosBurdette says:

    “Barista”: n: Ghetto slang for “waiter”, frequently making less than $10/hr. Usually spotted in overpriced franchise coffee shops wearing silly uniforms an acting important. Less frequently spotted at NASCAR events, or wearing flannel and dragging chain saw and fresh cut lumber out of the woods.

    If they just sold fresh cheap coffee everybody would have come out of this happy.

  199. lauy says:

    Maybe it’s a local thing, but I just can’t imagine buying coffee from a place with the word “murky” in the name…?

  200. overbysara says:

    sweet I want to buy coffee from this dude.

  201. GizmoBub says:

    @SAGoon987: So you think it’s the vendor’s place to tell you what you want to eat? Contrary to the coffee example where they think they’re getting defrauded and deprived of a profit, the prohibition on extra meat toppings doesn’t really serve any rational business purpose. Are you somehow trying to say that if I want pepperoni, meatballs and sausage on a pizza somehow I’m ruining it? Don’t get me wrong, it’s clogging my arteries, but that’s my right as an American (or at least it was until my girlfriend decided I had to eat healthier). Shopkeepers and people in service industries who think that they should be able to dictate the personal tastes of customers are the real assholes here.

  202. thesabre says:

    Any place that tells a customer that they are going to get cock-knocked gets my business immediately. I’m sick of this “customer is always right” garbage. Sometimes the customer is an idiot and deserves a good dick punchin’.

  203. morganlh85 says:

    @mbouchard: Or only offer those little tiny creamer packets instead of pitchers of real milk.

  204. morganlh85 says:

    @LittleEnosBurdette: That would be cute if anyone in the ghetto could tell you what a barista was.

  205. I find it odd that Mr Cho will use “damn” in his advertising, but he won’t say “fuck” in a blog post, opting instead for “f*@k”. Who does he think he is, Rhett Butler?

    And the ghetto latte at Starbucks is 50% cheaper than an iced latte and stronger? They deserve to have cheapskates game the system with that kind of an arbitrage.

    @MercuryPDX: When I ask for a “large iced coffee with a shot of espresso”, don’t repeat in a condescending tone “Don’t you mean ‘A Cold Shot in the Dark’?”.

    Recent experience at Starbucks:
    “I’d like a small cappuccino—”
    “A tall or a short?”
    “Ummm… which one is a normal small?”
    “Probably the Tall. “
    “OK, I guess I’ll have that.”

    Another recent experience:
    “I’d like a double small hazelnut cappuccino.”
    “How about I put just a hint of vanilla in there?”
    “Great. You are about to have the best cappuccino you have ever had.”
    [Stunned silence. I really wanted to say “Do you really have no idea how preposterous and impossible that statement is?”]

  206. SAGoon987 says:

    @GizmoBub: As an American, he has the choice of what to serve. If you don’t like it, don’t go there. Also, yes, that toppings combination is dumb.

  207. Comms says:

    I have to side with the coffee shop on this one. If people are abusing the “ghetto latte” thing then I can understand why the owner would have a problem with it. Each “ghetto latte” ends up costing him money and there’s no way to control it unless you put the milk pitchers behind the counter which will inevitably annoy legitimate customers.

    I don’t think it’s cool taking advantage of independent businesses.

  208. GrandizerGo says:

    I understand what you are saying, but on the same hand, you can’t go to an Indian restaurant and tell them you want Greek food because you don’t like the test of Indian food…

    When I was YOUNGER and less worldly, I went out to dinner with my Pastor, (ex gourmet chef) and his family, I ordered a steak, it came in slices, and I asked if I could have some cheese for it, a I was used to steak and cheese subs. Needless to say, it was an insult to the chef, and it did take some explaining before I understood it.

    For those people complaining about how the coffee won’t taste different because of the temp of the pour, as the owner says, you are WRONG, there are many items in the real world that are changed differently due to how the heat or cooling was applied, think of tempering a blade, think of a glass blower, think of cement drying, just some examples… I would disagree about the ascorbic acid though. I would think more that when the surface of the ice melted, it infused with the poured liquid in such a way to cause it to go slightly sour. Maybe a sugar crystal that normally balances the sour is destroyed…

  209. afrix says:

    @Comms: “IF people are abusing the ghetto latte thing”

    That’s a big IF. That’s no reason to blindly side with the coffee shop owner on this one. There’s far, far more going on in this story than just the POSSIBILITY of this guy using some milk.

  210. Cupajo says:

    “I’m a barrista!”

    No, you’re a cashier at a coffee shop.

  211. É®îç says:

    Jeff stinks. Long live Nick!

    And to those who question punching dicks, most states allow for occupants of buildings to use lethal force to defend against arsonists. So a punch in the dick would be well below the legal threshold.

  212. DMXParsons says:

    I approve of this entire story. Baristas and coffee shop owners should be rude and profane, and over-caffeinated customers should be unable to handle small changes in their coffee-centric universe. It is the natural order of things.

  213. Wubbytoes says:

    Man, what an asshole. Its coffee! If some douche bag customer wants to fuck up their own coffee that they are paying for, let them.

  214. mannymix03 says:

    This really isn’t about coffee or ghetto latte, Its the fact that after he was told a policy that the store has (not the barista so why you would argue with him i have no idea) he was a dick with his tip and then threatened arson. If anyone threatened arson to my establishment I would call the police or threaten him with violence as well. I would protect my investment and my staff from some lunatic who might just be crazy enough to burn down my business one day, you never know.

    The customer was a total DICK, because it is the owners private business he can deny a certain drink to him for any reason he chooses, the customer needs to comply with the policy or he can go to another coffee shop. Instead the customer tried to be slick and get around it, I deal with plenty of these people every day who think they are slick, It usually ends in them being barred from the establishment with no refund or anything.

  215. dg says:

    The owner sounds incredibly graceless and unpleasant.

    It’s too bad, because it actually is true that there is no better cup of coffee in the entire DC area..

  216. bwcbwc says:

    @Veeber: are you saying he would be using kerosene as a condiment in his next iced espresso?
    @BarryT: Racist against whom? Italians (the word is Italian)? Jews (original Ghetto dwellers)? Ghetto might be an offensive way to say “poor man’s”, but you seem to be assuming that only people of a particular place are poor.
    @twophrasebark: Proving once again that the federal government is too big: throwing so much money around that people there have time to waste in pissing contests over how coffee is prepared.

  217. bwcbwc says:

    @dragonvpm: It was all so much simpler on the internet when the flame wars were all about computers, operating systems, game consoles and anime.

  218. dragonvpm says:

    @bwcbwc: True, less people felt obligated to have an opinion on all those things. Now, everyone has an opinion on being a consumer or running a business.

  219. GizmoBub says:

    @SAGoon987: He certainly does have the choice to serve or not serve. Granted, as I said before, the guy is in the service industry so it seems rather stupid to constrain your customers in what they can get. Rest assured, I’d get loud and obnoxious if not knowing his (IMHO “retarded and pretentious”) policy was denied an order for a pizza. The way you describe it, you’d think that he’s a making life or death decisions. He’s a pizza guy for crying out loud! The very notion of opening up a store where you can choose what you want is that the customer can have what he or she wants so long as he or she is willing to pay for it. If I walk into a NY pizzaria and ask for a slice with pinapple, bacon, pesto chicken, meatball and olives they don’t get all offended and upset like your silly pizza guy. They make the slice, add up the topings and charge me for it. But to make a slight change in a classic Airplane line, “Chump don’t want the biz, chump don’t get the biz.”

  220. phearlez says:

    I would love to see how all the “it’s his business he can run it how he likes” would froth all over themselves if this was something that happened at Starbucks or Wal-Mart. It’s amazing how quickly people drop their pro-consumer positions when it’s a small business with arbitrary and obnoxious rules. Personally I think it’s all the worse when small businesses adopt these silly behaviors because they can’t defend them with the “corporate makes one-size-fits-all rules” excuse.

  221. timbrews says:


    Ha ha ha…wiener.

  222. coolkiwilivin says:

    Cho sounds like Korean and he wants to be the Momofuku of coffee. I can understand a Thomas Keller of French Laundry being aghast if someone were to pour ketchup on one of his dishes, b/c dang if he does not know food. Just shut up and listen to what he says and enjoy the ride. However you’re paying $100-$200 to be led through that experience. This is a freakin $3 cup of coffee. It’s the ford of the food/drink world. Sorry, dude give the customer what he wants and be glad he didn’t buy from the 8 other locations selling the exact same thing you’re selling. As for the cream thing, I agree it’s bad when a customer breaks a cultural understanding that you’re not to fill up a cup with cream but then again you can always control it. Bring it back behind the counter, use the individual little servings. It’s a pain but if things are that bad, then you need to do things that allow you to control your customers experience in a way that doesn’t ruin your rep with the customer and make them feel like they’re getting ripped off. The business needs the customer’s money and the customer needs the service or product of the business. Finding the balance is how good businesses survive.

  223. JoeVet says:

    I’ll not be patronizing the murky coffee, thank you very much. Anyone who thinks only they know how to make a good cup of coffee is an idiot and too egocentric for me to deal with. I will drink my coffee as I see fit and no lowly coffee maker will change that.

  224. brother9 says:

    I bet the barista rides a recumbent bike.

  225. ibanix says:

    I’m completely on the consumer’s side.

    1) Espresso over ice does not mean I’m going to add a ton of milk to it;

    2) If people are abusing milk, keep it behind the counter or have your staff add it for them;

    3) I don’t give a fuck what you think happens to the coffee when it hits the ice. It’s my coffee. Maybe I like those ‘acrid’ flavors.

    In short, hope this publicity bites coffee house owner in the back and he looses business. Not acceptable.

  226. drdom says:

    I missed something. When I went to bed last night, this was a free country. And free means we’re free to run our business and make rules for how we do things. The beauty is that anyone who chooses can express their dissatisfaction by going somewhere else for their over priced exotic coffee or latte or whatever.

    Although I don’t think the store owners policy makes sense, it doesn’t have to. It’s his store. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else. For whatever reason, this guy really really cares about his coffee, or latte or whatever. His store, his perogative.

    I occasionally go to a cigar bar, where people can smoke and enjoy some of the finest cigars one can buy. They have a “no cheap cigars” policy. If someone were to light up a White Owl or a Swisher Sweet, they would be shown to the door faster than white on rice or dots on dice. It’s a place for cigar afficinatos.

    So if this coffee guy wants to run an elite, particular business for coffee purists, it’s his business. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else.

  227. qumahlin says:

    “Unless the shop makes the customers sign an EULA, they can’t control what people decide to do with their products after they’re sold. After that, you just have 3 dicks in a dick-measuring contest. Congrats, you’re all winners.”

    Ben, your an idiot. At no point did he try to prevent someone from doing something AFTER it was sold. Simply put they don’t offer it. The owner even stated the employee shouldn’t have given the guy the ice.

    Looks like you better add your dick to that measuring contest.

  228. YadidGadgtastic says:

    Of course the whole thing could be fixed with a menu change…
    espresso $1
    espresso over ice $1,000,000

    This way everyone gets what they want.


  229. m3rkvry says:

    Good God, there are a lot of condescending yahoos responding to this article. That goes double for everyone that says that Nick Cho is a terrible person because he missed paying some taxes. While it’d certainly behoove him to get an accountant, I look forward to someone telling you that you don’t deserve to have a place to live the next time you miss a rent payment.

    That said, it seems to me they’re both wrong. Obviously, neither should have stooped to threats of violence or arson. Those aside, if Nick’s reasoning is that espresso over ice tastes bad, then he should let it taste bad. The “ghetto latte” issue is a little tougher, but my instinct would be to let the customer have it instead of fighting it – if you’re going to lose money as a result of one or two customers using this loophole, there’s something wrong with your business model.

    And to the people complaining with this “customer is always right” crap . . . never, never, never let me hear you say that in my coffeehouse (which, frequently, happens to be Murky Coffee in Clarendon). I will punch you in the dick. The customer WAS right . . . in the 80s, back when you had to wear ties to dinner and call your boss “Mr. Johnson”. Now the customer/business relationship has changed fundamentally, so that customers have received the right to be recognized as more than a number and employees have received the right to not be treated like animals. If you don’t like this, then go buy a coffeemaker.

  230. teddylj says:

    I side with the owner on this. His tax history is completely irrelevant.

    He didn’t threaten to dick punch until arson was mentioned. His store, his clear policy, the customers choice to GTFO.

    In fact, aside from the customer- I’d say the next largest share of the “blame” lies with the barista for not giving the Americano as an alternative. Although you can’t even be sure that it didn’t happen.

  231. misterdisco says:

    @m3rkvry: Are you seriously comparing one month’s rent to six-figures in delinquent taxes? Epic fail.

  232. Fawkes says:

    Bad publicity is still good publicity, now all he needs is marketing… like a t-shirt that says: “I got my dick punched at Murky’s”


  233. Comms says:


    The owner is not under any obligation to provide any product or service to anyone and even less obligated to provide something that isn’t even on the menu.

    The customer was being an entitled dick.

  234. comicgeek77 says:

    i have to side with the owner here. i ran the counter pretty much solo in a local coffee house for a year and a half and have seen firsthand how the “ghetto latte” and “milkmaids” can kill a coffee joints profits. “milkmaids” are folks who just order a small drip coffee and hang out all day refilling it with milk from the condiment table btw. i know there are plenty of honest folks who want an iced espresso in a tall cup but most folks who order a one ounce shot in a ten or twelve ounce cup full of ice are just going to fill the cup up with milk/cream/half and half forcing the store to take a loss on the sale. the store owners end up having to be jerks in order to protect themselves either by banning certain drinks on ice or cup sizes. and when the store owners take up these policies regardless of how calmly, honestly, and politely the person working behind the counter tries to explain the rules and why they are there some jerk who has been a regular and never bothered to tip before will toss a buck into the tip jar with some horrible insult or threat written on it. if the customer is the kind of guy his email reads as i am sure it was the first time he felt inclined to tip and the threat the owner complains of is real. and most coffee shop owners let the baristas bend the rules for customers they know to be honest. but baristas like to enforce the rules when dealing with regular customers that never tip or treat the cafe workers like crap if for no other reason then to drive them away to starbucks or some other chain that has lousy/overrated/overpriced coffee and even more draconian customer service policies.

  235. verdantpine says:

    I don’t know how I missed the coffee nazi saga.

    @comicgeek77: Earlier, Gouda explained it perfectly.

    Milk and other items left are a cost of doing business for any normal coffee shop. If you have milk and sugar out for people who buy regular coffee drinks, then you should be factoring it into your overhead costs. The same way you factor in napkins or ketchup or plastic bags for people to take away their purchases.

    If the occasional person who buys an espresso and pours lots of milk in isn’t covered by the operating costs, you need to reconsider your planning and budget, rather than rail against customers. There will always be people who try to ‘take advantage’ or ‘go cheap’. If you drive them off, you might drive away their friends and family, and neighbors and acquaintances who you’ll alienate by going hard-core.

    This financial information released about Cho (having some of his shops shut down for lack of tax payment) shows that he’s probably not planned well for the health of his business. It’s not his customers’ fault for “stealing” milk which virtually all shops absorb in their operation costs — it’s the old P to the 6th power – Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

    You can either raise the operating costs across the board (raising all your prices to cover them), or raise the price of the espresso. Either way, once a customer pays for an item, you have no right to castigate them for what they do with it (unless it’s battery acid and they blind someone with it). You can deny them service in the future, but what the barista did (starting off this elegy of crassness) was uncalled for.

    By the way, I recently requested a decaf espresso from Starbucks. They just gave it to me for free.

  236. Javarican says:

    Hurray for Murky coffee! Next time I am in the DC area, I’m gonna support this business. People are always trying to pull a fast one. Stop being cheap.

  237. FAP says:

    There was no arson threat. What the customer said is an expression meaning he’s never coming back. And if the man wants ice coffee and you have both ice and coffee sell him the damned drink and shut up about how you like your own coffee.

    And stop calling yourselves baristas you’re waiters or coffee-jerks. You’re pouring coffee, sometimes over frozen water, not curing cancer so get over yourselves and get the man the drink he is paying for.

  238. iamjustjules says:

    aaaaaannnnnd. Murky loses: []

  239. Roger Alford says:

    As a current Barista, I see the “ghetto latte” all the time, and yes, it is a little distracting and lame, and some people REALLY like milk – but thats okay, cause I know something they dont…

    As for the way this guy handled the situation (the owner) he is 100% in the wrong, and a person can order their drink however they like. There is many times people order things I dont like, and think it kills the espresso, but its THEIR choice, not mine. It is my job to do what? Correct! MAKE THEIR DAMN DRINK HOW THEY LIKE AND WANT! PERIOD!

    Dear Murky Coffee,
    Your values are in the right place, but do not fuck with people who drink coffee how they want. Do no deny someone from doing what they want with their coffee. If you don’t like it, don’t have a store! And if you blog about it, don’t tell off your customer, because he, like me, will now never come into your establishment, and have already told 10 friends in the DC area who now are “former customers” as well.