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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.

Bitter, 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 (NASDAQ:FB) 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 (NASDAQ:ORCL) released a survey indicating that 72% of Americans view customer service as fairly to very important. The same poll found that nearly 75% of US consumers are turned off by unfriendly and unhelpful staffers.

It doesn't hurt to stand out in the birthplace of Starbucks (NASDAQ: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 (NASDAQ:URBN) 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."

Editor's Note: This story by Jason Notte was originally published on MSN moneyNOW.

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