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My Struggles With A Coffee Snob | Beyond The Pass

My Struggles With A Coffee Snob | Beyond The Pass

Every industry has their snobs.

Movies have the type of people who dismiss anything Marvel-related, like they’ve never watched an Avengers movie, music has jazz fans and art has almost everyone who is interested in art.

Hospitality has many different types of snobs for each facet of the industry. 

Coffee has black coffee drinkers (of which I am one of them), dining has the self-proclaimed “foodies” who will undertake a half-hour photoshoot for each dish delivered to their table and beer has craft beer drinkers (of which I am also one of).

And when you work in the industry, you’re inevitably going to encounter one of these snobs from time to time, and it can take all the energy in your being to not throw something at them.

But here’s the thing: treat them well and they will spend a lot of money.

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Like I said earlier, I’m a bit of a coffee snob. I drink my coffee black, sometimes hot, sometimes cold, sometimes long and sometimes short. Oftentimes I’ll drink multiple coffees in a sitting that are a mixture of all of the above, but you’ll never see me drinking it white.

I’m not against a milky coffee. I know how comforting they can be, and it certainly does take the edge off a robust spro, but I kind of like that edge.

I used to feel bad for my wife having to sit there whilst I sniff, stir, rest and slurp at my coffees, but that feeling has gone now that we’ve got a 4-year-old who takes the attention away from me. And honestly, I do it more out of habit than anything else, like a ritual or a nervous tick.

There was one coffee snob in particular that was infamous on the Sydney coffee scene. I won’t name names here, but if I said only his 1st name, you would likely let out a sigh, maybe a little giggle, but you would almost certainly have a story or two about the bloke.

I first encountered him when I was working in a popular cafe in Enmore, Sydney, and he spied me playing around with an Aeropress. He leaned against the counter, blocking the kitchen pass, and watched me like a hawk as I agitated the grounds with a wooden popsicle stick.beyond the pass man watching me very closelyHe assumed I was somebody else, and he seemed like he was going to question me when I told him that, alas, I was not who he thought I was. Out of courtesy I gave him a taste of the coffee once it was brewed, and he then began telling me about how nice it was and how bad all of these other cafes were. Then he left without buying anything and I thought this would be a one off.

How very wrong I was.

He followed me to my next job, and the one after that, and the one after that. 

Each time he’d visit, he’d order about 4 different coffees, drink half of each of them and release a tirade of criticism about every other cafe he’d been to that week. I couldn’t even get away from him because he’d sit at the counter and he’d turn up so early that, most of the time, we were the only people in the place.

He’d name drop other baristas, like I’d know them personally, and detail how every single coffee they made him was terrible. Not like my coffee, he’d assure me. Mine was incredible, even the ¾ flat white that he’d insist I make on a single origin even after I advised him that the singles I get were roasted lighter, and to be enjoyed black and that they wouldn’t be strong enough to cut through the milk. It didn’t matter, he’d still take 2 sips and tell me it was life changing.

But I wasn’t dumb. I knew that if he was talking trash about every other barista in town to me, then he’d talk trash about me to the next guy. I could only assume that whoever was being told how terrible I was had the same perspective.

And don’t even think about calling him out. My old boss did that, once, and it was all I heard about for years. I think I could write a word-perfect reenactment of the whole thing. I’ve had to listen to it that many times.

One time I told him I hadn’t heard of a new cafe out west because I worked 6 days a week and lived in the suburbs down south, and he came in THE NEXT DAY with this cafe’s entire Facebook feed printed out for me like a completely normal person. It was a sinister act on par with putting a horse’s head in somebody’s bed. 

Speaking of Facebook, he found me on there too. I delayed accepting his friend request for as long as possible until one day he came in and walked me through accepting it on my phone. I felt like a social media hostage.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little over-dramatic, but you get the gist, right?

And he wasn’t the only insufferable snob I had to deal with, but he was by far the worst. He made the stuck up espresso slurpers less disgusting. He made the v60 armchair pundits less smug. And he made the Bonsoy diehards seem less ridiculous.

Most of all, in every cafe I worked he made me about $20 a visit which I viewed as [name redacted]-tax for having to suffer through him because if you can’t avoid terrible snobs in the workplace, at least you can profit from them.

Now, where’s the remote? There’s a new Dr Strange on Disney+ and it’s not going to watch itself.

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