No espresso in a to-go cup! No iced espresso! It’s the policy, stupid.

Road rage is so twentieth century.

Try coffee rage instead. According to the much-publicized story of Jeff Simmermon, it sounds quite satisfying.

Simmermon, a blogger from Brooklyn, walked into Murky Coffee, a coffee shop in Arlington, VA earlier this week and asked for his summertime drink of choice: a triple espresso over ice. The barista looked at him and said “I’m sorry, we can’t serve iced espresso here. It’s against our policy.”

Puzzled, Simmermon asked for a triple espresso and a cup of ice instead. Barista had no choice but to comply. He handed him both cups and said: “Hey man. What you’re about to do … that’s really, really Not Okay.”

Amidst coffee rage, Simmermon looked him right in eyes and poured the espresso onto the ice. (This is the satisfying moment, in case you are new to the coffee rage concept.)

For most coffee shop patrons accustomed to getting their signature drink at will, this would have been the last time they ever ventured into that coffee shop. Not Simmermon. An hour later, he walked back into Murky Coffee and asked for “the strongest iced beverage the policy will allow.”

The barista offered “an Americano with four shots and light on the water.” He filled up a plastic cup with ice, filled it 3/4 of the way with water and carefully added four shots of espresso. Apparently, diluting espresso with ice is not OK. Diluting it with water and ice is perfectly fine.

Simmermon went back home and ranted about this experience on his blog “And I am not lying“. His post quickly made it through cyberspace, generating thousands of comments and inspiring even the Washington Post to write a piece about “coffee rage.”

Finally, the owner of Murky Coffee made an official statement on his website:

“No modifications to the Classic Cappuccino. No questions will be answered about the $5 Hot Chocolate (during the months we offer it). No espresso in a to-go cup. No espresso over ice. These are our policies. We have our reasons, and we’re happy to share them.”

I don’t know about you, but this whole coffee culture thing is getting a bit out of control. I don’t exactly know who to side with here. The angry customer who, on one hand, wants to boycott Starbucks by giving business to small local coffee shops and, on the other hand, cannot handle not getting exactly and promptly what he wants? Or the staff of the small coffee shop which comes across as a pretentious bunch of posers?

Hmm, tough one. Based on my experience with coffee shop patrons, I am going to have to root for the coffee shop, I think.

Years ago, I actually worked at a Starbucks. Yes, I hate to admit it. It must have been one of the worst weeks of my life. The patrons of Starbucks, and probably of any coffee shop, must be collectively the worst customers of any customers out there. Imagine a group of A-plus personalities at 7am, before they get their morning coffee.

No, they don’t tend to be morning people. They get to the coffee shop already pissed off. Then, they get more pissed off because they have to wait in a line, because they have to wait at all, because they coffee is too hot, lukewarm, not sweet enough, too sweet, you name it.

I once had a woman who ordered a triple-grande-skim-light-on-the-syrup-caramel-macchiato or whatever, which I made. Clearly, not to her liking. She obviously wasn’t having a good morning. She tasted the coffee, looked at me and screamed: “THIS IS NOT WHAT I ORDERED,” and threw the coffee in my face. Literally. I can still remember the taste of the caramel syrup dripping from my nose.

She continued screaming: “At $5 a cup, this is not even worth it!!! WHY AM I EVEN HERE???”

That was a very, very good question.