Seattle Barista Matt Watson Fired For Bitter Blog Mocking Customers


Lots of baristas are disaffected, quietly cursing persnickety customers, and sneaking caffeine or full-fat milk into those patrons' drinks. But if they want to keep a career in customer service, they would be wise to keep their gripes off the Internet. A Seattle coffee shop worker has just been fired after he was outed as the "Bitter Barista" blogger.

Matt Watson, 30, got a bachelor's degree in philosophy in Pennsylvania before coming to Seattle eight years ago -- because he "followed a girl," he told The Seattle Times. Watson had been working at All City Coffee in the Georgetown neighborhood for 2½ years, while he pursued his hip-hop dreams as "Spekulation." And then two weeks ago, he told the Times, he started his blog.

As Watson explained to the Seattle newspaper, a barista "is probably an artist, overqualified, people with pretty much college education across the board." And then they find themselves, like Watson, waking up at 6 a.m. and earning $15 an hour.

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Introducing the "Bitter Barista," who offers up a daily dish of snark on the grind of the over-educated coffee-maker, with comments such as: "Please pour your coffee into the trash can so it can ruin my day later"; "I really hope this coffee career takes off so I can finally stop making music"; "Yes, coffee is expensive. But you're more than welcome to go to Ethiopia and get it yourself"; "My only goal for the month is to figure out how to pour a picture of a middle finger in latte art."

Watson never named himself on the blog, or his coffee shop, but he did mention his alter ego, Spekulation. The coffee gossip blog (yes, a coffee gossip blog!) Sprudge.com published its discovery, and condemned Watson's tone as "an all-out assault on whomever walks through the door of your cafe."

Anticipating hellfire, Watson emailed his boss, and tried to recast his online popularity as good for business, given its presumably young, hip and satire-loving clientele. "This isn't bad press, it's actually good press," he wrote. "... it could turn out to be a fun something that gives the place a little spike in the publicity."

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But despite Watson's pitch and his coffee skills (one Yelp reviewer said the "Hip Hop barista" did "Espresso as high art"), his boss let him go. "It puts me in a difficult position," his manager told the Times, "where if I don't respond that means I endorse what he's saying."

Watson isn't the first barista to lose a job for satirizing it. At the end of 2011, a 25-year-old Starbucks employee released an acoustic ballad on YouTube that recounted certain improprieties, like making Frappacinos out of whipped cream. Starbucks ultimately fired the guy but were apparently "really cool about it."

Watson says he's already received offers from other coffee shops, and his blog has received an uptick in traffic. "My ex-boss thinks the website is gonna stop because I don't work there anymore," he writes. "Man, I didn't even work there when I worked there!"



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122 Comments

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eraem12

LOL, customer service is ridiculous. so much you could write books of all the stupid stuff people do and say. He should have given it another name.

April 16 2013 at 1:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pacrowderholyoke

In this rotten economy, this jerk should be glad he even HAD a job! There are a lot of people out there who would be grateful just to have that job, and would do it for less than $15/hr. He sounds like a really arrogant jerk.

February 14 2013 at 5:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Paula Revere

He lost me when he said he made 15$ an hour. Here in VA we're lucky to make 8

February 13 2013 at 8:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bmitche

Sometimes freedom of speech will get you a nice pink slip.

February 13 2013 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
the aol experien

A masters in philosophy, I should think that he had the perfect job for his degree, Ha Ha Ha Ha

February 13 2013 at 3:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mboykin374boykin

I worked one year for Starbucks (although I often pronounce the last syllable with an "f").. We had to (obnoxiously) yell out to greet each guest as he/she walked through the door. Of course, you have to know how to make 250 different drinks, call them correctly and mark the cups accordingly. You also have to know how to wash floors, toilets and, yes, ceilings, as well as all the equipment. I got to shelve produce that came in on Tuesday, then throw cardboard boxes in the dumpster behind the store. Meanwhile, Starbucks bragged about how environmentally conscious the company is, and the great things they do with farm land in underdeveloping countries. No mention of the trash going to landfills in America!!! After a year, I had enough of Starbucks and Starbucks had enough of me. I resigned and moved on to other opportunities, not in coffee.

February 13 2013 at 2:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to mboykin374boykin's comment
Carol

Sounds like you are a glutton for punishment if you were that miserable and still stayed on for a year. There are lots of folks that consider Starbucks a good place to work. For starters the pay is more than many admin jobs and they provide health insurance and benefits for those that work 20 hours a week. Sure it sucks that you gotta clean the toilets, but you knew that when you started. ? Some of your complaints may be valid, but shelving produce on Tuesday and putting cardboard boxes in the dumpster is hardly unreasonable. I mean, what should be done with produce on Tuesday? Left in the box? And where do the empty boxes go, if not the dumpster? As for the "landfill" remark, what would you suggset they do with their garbage? Use it for compost in a Starbucks garden? Sure hope you don't mention all this on your resume' for another job. Sometimes when you complain too much, it says more about you than the place you're dissing.

February 13 2013 at 2:39 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
natureangel234

I find it interesting you say that because I always found starbucks intimidating and creepy, to know it's required to greet people like that makes me glad I don't go there much.

February 13 2013 at 3:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
daeda1uss

"Man, I didnt even work there when I worked there".

Pretty much says everything you need to know about him.

February 13 2013 at 2:10 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to daeda1uss's comment
pacrowderholyoke

That was my thought, too!

February 14 2013 at 5:10 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
hotboyotk

Wait, that goofy ginger kid is a rapper?

February 13 2013 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hotboyotk's comment
phil.smith2

Wrapper.

February 13 2013 at 2:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
war3saw

This college educated man makes $15 a hour to pour coffee. That pretty much says it all.

February 13 2013 at 1:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to war3saw's comment
phil.smith2

Actually, he could be making more due to the "tip jar" on the site.

February 13 2013 at 2:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
akirakichan@yahoo.com

I would be more worried about the people to put wrong ingredients in coffee or other drinks on purpose, to be honest. They're running the risk of making someone ill or even killing them. Take your frustrations out some other way...but maybe not a public blog if you don't want to be fired like this guy.

February 13 2013 at 1:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to akirakichan@yahoo.com's comment
Carol

Yes, or don't work in food service where you are trusted to serve people what they ordered instead of what your sour mood decides to serve them..

February 13 2013 at 2:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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