Customer-bashing barista fired for online rants

A coffee shop worker in Starbucks' hometown compared customers to Hitler and insulted his boss while on the clock.

By Jason Notte Feb 14, 2013 9:11AM
Image: Espresso machine with mug, close-up -- nd61 , SuperStockBitter, snarky, anonymous swipes at the folks who pay your salary work only when you have that "anonymous" bit in there. Otherwise, it's just fireable catharsis.

Matt Wilson, a 30-year-old barista at Seattle's All City Coffee, learned this lesson when he was fired after being outed as the writer of the Bitter Barista blog by coffee site last week.

It didn't help that his other alter ego, Seattle hip-hop artist Spekulation, was easily found on Facebook and Twitter. It also didn't help his cause that his posts about All City Coffee's customers read like this:

"If you've ever ordered an americano with steamed soy milk, you're pretty much on par with Hitler in my book."
"You can say '2% milk' all damn day. You're getting whole milk."
"What my boss doesn't understand is that, while my attitude makes for some terrible customer service, it makes for some great Internet."

This isn't what the owner of a small business wants to hear just a month after Oracle released a survey indicating that 72% of Americans view customer service as fairly to very important. The same poll found that nearly 75% of U.S. consumers are turned off by unfriendly and unhelpful staffers.

It doesn't hurt to stand out in the birthplace of Starbucks (SBUX), the home of recently saved Tully's Coffee and the nexus of a Puget Sound area that NPD Group says is saturated with more than 1,600 coffee shops. But Watson's boss, Seth Levy, wasn't buying his barista's emailed explanation that his outing "isn't bad press, it's actually really good press." Especially since Levy himself was often the target.

"He was writing about his boss during business hours," Levy said to The Seattle Times. "I represent the business, the customers and the staff. I can't endorse what he was saying, whether humorous or not. It puts me in a difficult position, where if I don't respond that means I endorse what he’s saying."

It also implies that anyone cares. Nobody's saying that being a barista or working in the service industry is the easiest of jobs, but there's a fine line between seeking better treatment and outright blasting the customer.

Boston bartender Patrick Maguire deftly treads that line with his Server Not Servant blog detailing customer and worker interactions in the food industry. While Maguire attaches his name to each post and is publicly accountable for each post, Sprunge notes that the vitriol Watson was spewing on Bitter Barista is best "vented over margaritas after work, not on your Twitter account mid-shift."

Watson says he's recovering nicely, has offers from other coffee shops and plans to turn his blog into a coffee table book. Upon hearing this news, the folks at Sprunge pointed out that his book will fit in nicely with "Things I Want To Punch In The Face" by Jennifer Worick, "F---! I'm In My Twenties" by Emma Koenig and "I Hate Everyone" by Matthew Dibenedetti among the "disgruntled young person in the workforce" tomes currently populating the Urban Outfitters bargain bin.

"Welcome to 2013," Sprudge's Llewellyn Sinclair wrote, "where snark sells, worn-out cliches are viral gold, and everyone gets a book deal."

More on moneyNOW

Feb 14, 2013 11:33AM
He sounds like any other snarky, trust fund hipster who doesn't know anything about real life. I'm sure his parents are proud.
Feb 14, 2013 12:22PM

Hey Barista Watson, If you don't like your job, go back to school or a tech course and get a better job! Constant public belittlement about your boss, coworkers, and customers is the fast way to unemployment.

"Watson says he's recovering nicely, has offers from other coffee shops and plans to turn his blog into a coffee table book."

Yep, I'm sure you have other job offers. Every employer wants a "blogging complainer" on staff!

Feb 14, 2013 12:06PM
what a selfish snob.  evidently he's never heard of lactose intolerance, thus the soy milk.  needs to learn humility... maybe he will on the street.
Feb 14, 2013 12:31PM
A friend of mine on facebook has a daughter that worked for the pharmacy that I used to use. Notice that I used to use them until I saw her daughter complaining on facebook about the customers she had to deal with. These children need to learn that what you post on facebook will be seen by more people than you think and there will be repercussions for their little online tantrums.
Feb 14, 2013 12:46PM
Barista's are ****s. Get a few tat's, dress like it's Saturday, and talk down to your customers. I don't tip them., myself, Good service maybe a tip. but barista's act too snotty, F^*K 'em, go get a real job or shut-up. Plus Facebook breeds a$$holes who just HAVE to share every little thing with the world. Like it matters.
Feb 14, 2013 1:55PM
This jerk was lucky to have a job at all.  Care to guess how many unemployed people would be happy to be a barista in Seattle?
Feb 14, 2013 2:12PM
Listen up Companies!  The consumer has spoken!  I am a part time cashier at Walmart, and know darn well that my demeanor better be nothing less than helpful, when a customer checks out.  We as cashiers are often the FIRST to be seen and the LAST person the customer talks to.  If someone gets poor customer service, they pay enough to companies that they can afford to just go somewhere else.  Snarkiness is NOT welcome for me as a customer, and for me to do something like this is against my personal ethics.
Feb 14, 2013 2:57PM

Just another reason I make coffee at home. I can't understand the line of people at these coffee places. You pay outrageous prices to get poor service and have a minimum wage earning kid look down their nose at you. This makes you feel better about yourself? If you feel more important drinking starbucks coffee, you need professional help. 

Feb 14, 2013 2:31PM
He ought to be forced to survive by hooking for hummers on a street corner in Harlem.
Feb 14, 2013 4:55PM
Feb 15, 2013 1:03PM
Not sure how this is relevant to MSN Money...
Feb 14, 2013 7:05PM
A lot of KIDS are so fkn dumb today or nowadays....Yeah, I said Kid.
Feb 14, 2013 4:12PM
this guy sounds like every coffee maker (note i said coffee maker - not a lot of skill involved with that job) i have ever encountered at starbucks.  that's why i don't go there anyore.  :-)
Feb 14, 2013 7:10PM
What does "barista" really mean anyway..?? Dumbazz, that pours coffee ??
Feb 14, 2013 2:02PM
A NON ISSUE HERE, just stop the substance abuse of "coffee" alltogether!
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