Reasonable Critique or Queening Out?


Baristas, Eater co-founder Ben Leventhal would like to come into your cafe in the morning. He wants you to remember his drink order before remembering his name, and he’d prefer to say no more than two words during the interaction. Please set up his drink for him as he walks in the door, as he’d just generally like to be in the cafe for as little time as possible. And “please, God, don’t be annoying.”

Sounds good?

Mr. Leventhal’s feature, “Coffee Shop Rules of Engagement“, did not run on itself, but rather on his personal Tumblr, the heading for which identifies him as Eater’s co-founder. Like a lot of folks, Mr. Leventhal is the kind of morning coffee customer that just plumb has needs. He’s the guy who comes in, doesn’t want to talk, wants fast service, and has to get in and out ASAP for his big blog meeting (he’s already close to being late). He’s probably also on his cellphone, managing the full social calendar that comes with being one of New York’s most eligible bachelors.

We had several conversations throughout the morning about Leventhal’s piece, with friends and colleagues around the United States. Here’s a few notable quotables from our afternoon spent yammering on:

“People in the service industry get mad when they’re treated like service people.”

“Is there a distinction between getting mad for being treated like service person and getting mad for being treated like shit?”

“It’s very possible Ben Leventhal has never made 120 lattes in an hour, or woke up at 4am to open a cafe. He doesn’t know how hairy it can get, but that’s the point, because he doesn’t need to know what it’s like to be able to write about what it’s like to be the customer who just needs a coffee to wake up before work.”

“Leventhal isn’t saying that baristas need to be more robotic, he’s just saying they need to be more efficient and self aware. All of the points he hits on are like Starbucks Training 101 Stuff.”

“We’re only having this conversation because the guy started Eater.”

What do you think? Is this just tough love for the sub-par experiences described in Mr. Leventhal’s feature? Or not so much? Sound off in the comments below!



  1. anarchista barista

    14 November

    If he wants his coffee to be remembered, maybe he should be more memorable.

  2. Jonny

    4 August

    I agree, just make my f*cking coffee. :)

  3. Goldy

    3 August

    Why choose one over the other? I’ll take ’em both! At the same time! Hey-oh!

  4. Alex

    3 August

    I just dont see how he could be the 11th most eligible bachelor, when clearly #12 is way hotter. No. 12
    Danilo Gallinari, 21, Knicks forward
    this is a no brainer

  5. nameKJ

    2 August

    Maybe Mr. Leventhal can do a companion piece on Rules for Being a Morning Coffee Customer. That would verify that he knows the interaction is a two-way street.

    Which, right now, I doubt.

  6. Intrepid510

    2 August

    Meh, didn’t he say he goes to Starbucks anyway? Why doesnt he just buy some folger’s and call it a day?

  7. john

    2 August

    I think Ben’s points would’ve been much more well-received had he decided to write in a tone that’s not condescending, arrogant, full of entitlement, and actually helpful. Instead, he just wanted to rant. Which is terrible because then others want to rant in their replies.

    Let’s break it down: Baristas, be nice, be fast, try to learn regular customer’s drinks, gauge how much each customer would like to chat, and largely keep irrelative personal opinions to yourself. Done.

    That’s actually good advice when you don’t sound like a douchebag.

  8. SAO

    2 August

    Looks like Ben has been catching up on his Schomer-blog circa 2009.

  9. Donp

    1 August

    Customers need to respect this thing they do day in and day out.. Sure service and efficiency are important an he had good points, but take a moment to understand, maybe you’ll learn something as that barista jawing at you might actually help you appreciate what you’re experiencing a bit more..

  10. JP

    1 August

    I want a medium cup of Ben!

  11. Pam

    1 August

    Maybe he should make his coffee at home? It’s cheaper and then he wouldn’t have to get over himself for five seconds and interact in the real world with human beings.

  12. Vanessa

    1 August

    Whatever! He’s HOT!

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