Big Brown Stink: Deplorable Homophobic Tweet From ...

Big Brown Stink: Deplorable Homophobic Tweet From Texas Roaster

June 24th, 2011: New York becomes the 6th state in the USA to allow same-sex couples the right to marry. At 11:55PM, Brown Coffee Company, a San Antonio-based coffee roaster with accounts across North America, posts this message to Twitter.

RBC NYC, a New York City cafe serving Brown Coffee Company announced to its customers via Tumblr that they have pulled BCC off the shelf.

Although we won’t tell you what RBC stands for, we’ll let you know it doesn’t stand for intolerance and bigotry, therefore we will not be doing business with The Brown Coffee Co. anymore.

In the days following, Brown has locked its Twitter account and deactivated its Facebook page. Brown can be reached for contact here and they run a WordPress here.

A corporate Twitter account is a terrible place to sound off knee-jerk reactions, no matter what they are, and this case is particularly egregious. One should use a pretty thick filter when representing an entire company. A public apology from Brown Coffee Co is in order.

Bay Area barista Tom Baker nails it:


  1. Commercial Coffee

    24 August

    Good post on Big Brown Stink: Deplorable Homophobic Tweet From Texas Roaster.

  2. mark saldana

    28 June

    Their “apology” seems to be conflicted and half-hearted. They apologized for the “hurtful” tweet on their website, but simultaneously posted this on their blog:

    “In the post, it mentioned the differences between Natural Law and Human Law and mentioned that they were different and unequal. This was a post about CLASSICAL PHILOSOPHY and LAWS (a la Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, etc.), not PEOPLE; but somehow people began to twist what was written and added their own lies to the post to mean that somehow we at The Brown Coffee Company are hateful, homophobic, intolerant people. ”

    The problem isn’t that they’re intolerant jerks, it’s that we just didn’t “get” their highly intellectual, philosophical tweet.

  3. Eric Z

    28 June

    First off, for the record, I’m from New Orleans, which geographically falls in the South, but ideologically falls somewhere far away from southern politics and convictions. Therefore, I love gay people, fully support their right to marry and completely understand how this tweet was offensive to many. Most of us can agree that it was a dumb mistake that should never have been made from a company account. We could end it there, and move on.

    However, as baristas and coffee geeks, my girlfriend and I have made the trip to San Antonio to personally experience Brown’s impressive café (the livelihood for Aaron, his wife, and kids, with another on the way). I went in four times that week and one of the first things I noticed is that when I walked in I would usually have to wait a few moments for the philosophical discussion of the moment to die down to a point where Aaron would take my order. In fact, from what I hear, Brown’s café is known for a heavy dose of political and philosophical discussions. It is a tiny space, tables and chairs are very close, and no conversation can remain private there.

    As a person oriented very liberally, I even meandered my way into one of these debates and walked away still feeling dignified and having no problem giving Brown my business. As I sipped my delicious Single Origin Espresso, I thought to myself, “This is the south. Conservative/religious leanings are a given, and I guess I’m just glad someone in this part of the Deep South is using thermocouples, scales, and refractometers when brewing and roasting my coffee.” I didn’t give a shit what his politics were. I was there to talk coffee. Conversely, however, many of his customers ARE there to talk politics, to engage in philosophical discussions while enjoying great coffee. And though I was more interested the TDS and extraction percentage of Aaron’s unique V60 technique (the island method), his customers kept getting in my way, talking about other things.

    The above context provides a great deal of insight into why Aaron may have made the mistake of the offending tweet. In his cafe, that may have not been a mistake, given the daily discourse there.

    However, on Twitter, one is no longer in the controlled environment of the café, where tone and a healthy back and forth can be moderated. His appeal to philosophy is notable, however we know that Socrates would have raised the issue in the form of a question. Instead, the tweet occurred in the form of some Christian/pseudo-scientific dogmatic statement, with hashtags that made it even worse.

    In the end, as liberal and gay loving as I am, the tweet did not offend me (I’m used to backwards politics, being from the south). But I do see how it could offend MANY people, and rightly so. For me, the move towards equality is bigger than one coffee shop’s religious/philosophical objections.

    The problem with Brown’s first response to the backlash is that like most hard-line dogmatic/philosophical positions, there is no regard for the human/societal implications. For example, strict Libertarians like Ron Paul and Rand Paul HATE government (even though they work in it), so along with a million other things, they’ve said they would abolish the 1965 Civil Rights Act, abolish the EPA, abolish the FDA, the TSA, and abolish the Dept of Education, leaving all of them in the hands of private, profit-driven corporations. A philosophy of government off our back sounds great until you begin to consider the human implications: who will protect minorities, who will protect the environment, who will inspect our meat and food, protect our airways, and educate our youth, all without a selfish (profit-driven) interest?

    Brown’s stated defense of themselves in his adherence to philosophy and ideology may be commendable to some. But just like strict libertarianism, it doesn’t factor in the human consequences: There are lots of gay people and gay loving people in this world (and especially in coffee). And many have been offended.

    Just apologize, for REAL this time. And from now on, we can debate this cordially in your café, while sipping on your truly amazingly crafted coffees (if I’m ever back in San Antonio)….but let’s not have such debates over Twitter. Finally, businesses beware: as with civil rights, women’s rights, and worker’s rights, the pendulum of history swings in the direction of progress and liberty. Get on board…or at least be careful with words that affect so many.

    –Eric Z

    • Brad

      28 June

      TL;DR…and just because you live in the South, shouldn’t mean people assume youre homophobic.

    • Craig

      4 July

      Onboard with all of that, except for the idea that the TSA protects anyone from anything except the right to travel with dignity.

  4. drew woods

    28 June

    i, for one, are in favor of every bigoted asshat posting their tripe from their business accounts, so then i know not to give them any money.

  5. Auntie Dogma

    28 June

    If it’s Brown, flush it.

  6. joe

    28 June

    Well, Brown has terrible coffee so that should be the first reason to not sell it in your cafe– though RBC is more about having as many brands as possible and less about quality coffee.

    Also why apologize? It wouldn’t be sincere in anyway, so I’m not sure I see your point here.

    • Eric Z

      29 June

      “Joe” — I don’t know why I’m even bothering to respond to your dumb post, but I’ll engage.

      Who the fuck are you and by what standards are you measuring coffee quality? In Specialty coffee circles, among national and world champion baristas, judges, and long-time SCAA/BGA officials, Brown is known throughout the WORLD as being a highly regarded player in field of specialty coffee with respect to their quality in sourcing, roasting, and brewing amazing quality coffees, all the while being a TINY operation (with only two employees, the owners). This is sort of a well known thing in coffee circles. You can say whatever dumb shit you want about them, personally. But the coffee…the coffee is quite amazing. Not to mention by insulting the coffee you are insulting the farmers in Latin America, Africa, and Papua New Guinea where the coffees originate.

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