In Arlington for his girlfriend's dance rehearsal, Simmermon wandered into the inauspiciously named Murky Coffee. Sensibly ignoring a ridiculous sign (left), the Time Warner Cable executive ordered an iced triple espresso, it being July and all. Told this couldn't be done, because it was against policy, Simmermon then switched his order to a triple espresso and a cup of ice. This request was accepted very, very grudgingly.
A short time later, the most awesome exchange in the history of coffeeshops took place:
The barista called me over to the bar. I reached for [the espresso], 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."
I could hear the capital letters in his voice, could see the gravity of the situation in his eyes.
He continued: "This is our store policy, to preserve the integrity of the coffee. It's about the quality of the drink, and diluting the espresso is really not cool with us. So I mean, you're going to do what you're going to do, and I can't stop you, but"
I interrupted. "You're goddamned right you can't stop me," I said. "I happen to have a personal policy that prohibits me from indulging stupid bullshit like this - and another personal policy of doing what I want with the products I pay for." Then I looked him right in his big wide eyes and poured the espresso onto the ice.
Anyway, Simmermon later has to place another order because, well, it's been an hour and needs some more goddamned caffeine! The fact that he's jonesing for more coffee only 60 minutes after a triple espresso maybe should have clued in the coffee shop to what sort of customer it had on its hands. But of course, at this point it was too late.
Simmermon orders "the strongest iced beverage your policy will allow," and is served an iced, four-shot Americano. He liked it! And he left a tip!
Simmermon also said (later, on his blog post) "the only way I'm ever coming back to Murky Coffee in Arlington is if I'm carrying matches and a can of kerosene." Well.
The post found its way to MetaFilter and BoingBoing. Simmermon posted an update, saying "it's a little embarrassing. I mean, I can freely admit that I acted like a total dick here." He posted a clip of Lily Tomlin acting like a total dick somewhere else.
Then the cafe owner responded on his blog! He was not pleased!
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: F*@k 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.
The owner, Nick Cho, also said his coffee shop is basically known for its anal policies, including some serious sadistic BS like "no modifications to the Classic Cappuccino," whatever that's about, and, bizarrely, "no questions will be answered about the $5 Hot Chocolate" (emphasis added).
Cho also tried to claim that the iced espresso ban is "mostly for quality reasons... when [espresso] hits ice, it seems to go through a chemical change that we can't fully explain." But then he admitted his shop used to serve iced espressos, but most people who bought them added milk to create a cheap "ghetto latte." So really the whole ban is about money, not quality.
The Post thinks "both sides look like drips" in this feud. But do they? A cable guy accidentally earned a national reputation for standing up for good customer service, which will probably never happen again anywhere, ever. And a cafe showed espresso snobs worldwide that it will defend the delicate acids in its shots come hell or high water.
Isn't that, in the end, really, really OK?