Do those who care come off the wrong way to their customers?

May 22, 2007 · Filed Under Uncategorized 

If you’ll please take a look at exhibit A:

I know I’ve felt like that before… but without the verbalization. I know I’ve seen a customer (or several) walk in, when I was feeling inspired to make some killer espresso, and then they dash my hopes by ordering a bottomless cup of airpot drip.

I don’t believe I’ve often said anything about it to them, but the feeling is still there, and I can’t help but think that somehow, the feeling is illustrated in some way. Maybe in my voice. Maybe in the look on my face. It’s difficult to keep passion hidden, I think, and that’s really all it is.

The question, then, becomes this. Is the coffee equally as important as the customer? In other words, if a customer comes in and requests that you just destroy an espresso for their drink, what do you do? Do you honor their request, or do you politely decline because of the disrespect it implies towards everyone else down the chain who’s touched that coffee before you?

Is the customer really always right?

Just a thought.

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Jason Haeger (347 Posts)

Jason is utterly obsessed with coffee, and is the founder and editor of He is available for consulting and barista training at He is also the founder and owner of AJ Coffee Company in Dallas, TX. His favorite brew method changes as often as his favorite coffee: daily. If you are interested in contributing to this website, he would love to hear from you!

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4 Responses to “Do those who care come off the wrong way to their customers?”

  1. aaron on May 22nd, 2007 5:50 pm

    well, at least they’ve chosen YOU as the person whose espresso they want to destroy. if nobody chooses you then you won’t be able to pull shots for those few who care.

  2. Jason Haeger on May 22nd, 2007 5:53 pm

    I read that and I hear “don’t take your customers for granted”. On the other hand, I don’t think the coffee should be taken for granted either.

    The trick is how to balance the two into a harmonious co-existence. Ex: The Elysian Room.

  3. Meister on May 26th, 2007 10:22 am

    In my humble opinion, and many, many, many disagree with me (and I get and respect that), the customer is always right if only because:

    1) the mere fact that they are “right” the first time lends more to the possibility that you will encounter them again and again, which may open the lines of communication that will allow you you to mold their palate,

    2) who is anyone in this industry to judge anyone else’s tastes, and, maybe most importantly,

    3) without customers — even the ones who seem like total boobs — there would be no coffee, certainly no specialty coffee. That disrespect you feel is implied in an uneducated customer’s wanting a “regular” over a handcrafted espresso is still putting money in the hands of and creating work for people up and down the chain of production, which is, of course, the heartbeat of what we do. Every dollar counts, to me.

    I think that #1 on this list may lend the most comfort, at least where I work.

    Thanks for the insightful post and the open floor! I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on this issue.


  4. Jaime on May 27th, 2007 10:41 am

    There are coffees that are good for milk and there are coffees that are not. I would never get upset if someone wants changes/additions to the milk blend, cool. Destroy it, that’s fine because that is it’s future anyway. If they want a skim latte from our expensive SO guest espresso, that’s another issue entirely.

    I don’t think we have to be absolute about all coffees, just a little more understanding of presenting the great ones. I don’t subscribe to the customer is always right mantra (suprise). I have long enough seen some high minded types preach about the sanctity of their coffees only to completely disregard the service of those coffees in their cafe accounts as they sell to anyone no matter the stage. For me, a true specialty coffee shop implies that it would be a specialty (IE: it doesn’t appeal to everyone) and therefore we should focus on our target audience and stop trying to embrace everyone. There are customers who are a good fit and others who are not.

    I don’t understand why so many in the industry turn their nose up and swear anyone who focuses on the coffee (not syrups, sandwiches, or 20oz cups) will go out of business. We all have to make money but there are many market segments where unique models can survuve. Sure it may not play in the burbs, but there are areas where a high end (seed to cup quality execution)shop could flourish.

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