The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

Posts Tagged ‘etiquette

Espresso Etiquette 101: 6 Lessons in Coffee Shop Culture

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Cafes are not places to set up a quasi mission control, and the simple act of tipping shouldn’t remind anyone who observes it of a full-scale production of The Taming of the Shrew.

These are just two examples that stood out among a myriad of espresso etiquette breaches I’ve witnessed over the past twelve months, the most recent of which involved Mr Lesson 4 earlier this week.

As I pondered his seating sin and cappuccino contravention, it dawned on me that he wasn’t alone in his misgivings, so I decided it was an opportune time to offer a weekend refresher course, with the aim of bringing everyone up to speed on the do’s and don’ts of 21st century cafe culture.

Has everyone switched their mobile phone to silent? Do you all have a pen that works? Good, let’s commence the nonsensical crash course that is Espresso Etiquette 101.

We haven't even looked at the first lesson and already we have people throwing their coffee cups out of the cot. Source: mephc.com

Lesson 1: Know what you want before you are eyeballing the barista

Those big, colourful boards behind the counter that display the menu, cup sizes and prices aren’t there for decoration. There’s nothing more infuriating – in the coffee world, anyway – than standing behind someone who doesn’t have a clue what they want to order until they’re staring into the pained eyes of an exceedingly patient barista.

If you want a small flat white, lock it in as soon as you’re asked what you’d like. If you’re in the mood for a large caramel mocha, accept your caffeine-infused fate and tell the barista you want a large caramel mocha. If you intend to order a Venti triple-shot hazelnut soy latte with a dash of vanilla, slap yourself across the back of the head as you approach the cash register. Your bombastic stupidity has earned you a glass of water. Without ice.

While we’re on the subject of ordering, knowing how to pronounce what you wish to drink is important. Should you feel inclined to order a macchiato, please remember it’s not pronounced mar-chee-ate-o. If there were such a thing, it would be a Cheetos-esque snack, not a coffee.

Lesson 2: A single coffee does not entitle you to a full day of free Wi-Fi

These people know who they are. The individuals who purchase a solitary coffee in order to stake their claim at a table towards the rear of the cafe; out of sight – and mind – of the baristas, but not so far away as to give them a less-than-excellent signal from the complimentary Wi-Fi.

While Starbucks is the traditional haunt of this creature, extreme overpopulation and the resultant infighting has forced many to flee their franchised habitats and seek refuge in boutique coffee shops advertising free internet.

The coffee culture lesson to the free Wi-Fi whores is simple: A $5 chai latte does not afford you any sort of entitlement to sit there for six hours while the last two seasons of Breaking Bad, 134 songs and Green Lantern finish downloading.

Lesson 3: Tether your unruly children to the table

Our third lesson in espresso etiquette is predominantly for parents, but is applicable to anyone who deems taking unsettled children to a coffee shop a prudent decision.

Contrary to what the deluded voices in your head tell you, not everyone finds your munchkins adorable. They are even less endearing when running around my table screaming, as you look on and do nothing but point and pull those stupid “Aren’t they precious?” faces. As ridiculous as it may seem, I was hoping for a little bit of peace and quiet while I finished my latte.

If you can’t or won’t control your recalcitrant toddlers, please tether them to the leg of your table using twine that any of the staff will be more than happy to provide you with. If need be, utilise some form of baby muzzle*, because I can’t handle that high-pitched squealing any longer, and I really will feel bad if I’m forced to throw my half-chewed muffin at your firstborn.

* Author’s note: If such a device doesn’t already exist, I call dibs on the patent.

Lesson 4: One ass equals one seat

This maths lesson is one that, because of its simplicity, shouldn’t even have to be taught. If you find the subject matter boring, please direct your grievances towards the 20-something guy at the cafe, whose struggle with basic mathematics compelled me to run this refresher course.

One bum entitles you to one seat. Uno. Yi. Moja. If you are flying solo with your cappuccino, a single seat is all you get. Your laptop bag, backpack and filthy, stained sneakers don’t have an ass between them, so they sure as hell don’t need to be comfortable while you spend forty painful minutes wiping dried froth from the rim of your cup.

Lesson 5: Tipping does not involve Shakespearean theatrics

To Lady Macbeth at the front of the queue: To tip, or not to tip, that is obviously your question. There’s no need for histrionics or to wait for an audience to assemble; either do it or don’t do it, but if you opt for the latter, please exit stage right immediately.

I’ve never worked in hospitality, but friends who do tell me one of their biggest irks are pretentious gits who believe their twenty cent act of altruism makes them the espresso equivalent of Bill Gates.

Lesson 6: Lose the hardware

This is an important message to the guy who has set up base camp at the table in the corner. You aren’t an authorised Apple reseller. Everyone in the coffee shop is already aware they make a good product, so there’s no need to spread your iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air out across the table while attempting to synchronise them, all the while shuffling the hell out of your iPod. You don’t look trendy and sophisticated; if anything, you come across as bourgeois and incredibly susceptible to clever marketing. Yes, I noticed the Bluetooth earpiece; did you want me to call NASA and inform them you’re good to go with the shuttle launch?

Source: shupes.net

If you are guilty of any of the transgressions outlined above, I sincerely hope this crash course in espresso etiquette gives you cause to sit back and smell the coffee beans. It’s not too late to get help. If you know anyone who is an offender, please share this article with them. Friends don’t let friends mooch cafe Wi-Fi. Better yet, maybe you should just print out and laminate a few copies; that way, you can hand them out to random strangers you witness committing these espresso atrocities.

Chivalry, a dirty nappy and the peak hour traveller that wasn’t happy

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I’ve guest written a piece today for Magnificent Nose entitled ”Chivalry and the Shifting Goal Posts”. Funnily enough, it’s about chivalry, but it’s also got an angry woman on a bus and a sentence that concludes with “makeshift nappy for an infant with explosive diarrhoea.” How can you not be intrigued?

To tempt you with the toxic fruit of my mind, here’s a little glimpse behind the curtain:

No one wants to watch the early morning news story about an overnight murder and have to ask themselves, “Was that dismembered corpse floating in the river my date?” Gentlemen, nothing makes a more negative impression on your potential bed mate than her getting mugged while walking home alone, purely because you were too lazy to accompany her for the 600m journey back to her apartment. The only thing that will make this worse is if you refused to do so because the pub was still serving $5 pints, or because you wanted to see what happened in extra time. Should you do so, the only time you will ever see her again is if you catch her slashing your tyres or setting fire to your mailbox.

I know you want to keep reading this article, so click here to jump across to Magnificent Nose; if you don’t, they will beat me and I’ll cry like a 2-year-old girl. You really, really don’t want to see me crying and throwing a hissy fit.

Source of original photograph: honeyhype.com

Who likes short shorts? Not JDW, apparently…

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As a general guideline, I abstain from reading anything that publishes the opinions of someone who is referred to as an “etiquette queen”, especially when that anything is The Sunday Telegraph. But when an article contains phrases like “moral disrepair” and “heathen era” in the first hundred words, I can’t help myself. For those that missed it, June Dally-Watkins, or JDW, is mortified about the current state of social interaction in Australia, and has expressed concern that if things don’t change, we may not be too far from sitting on our haunches and flinging faeces at one another. Now, JDW isn’t to be confused with SBW. One knows which forks and spoons to use at the dinner table, while the other boxes and has a proclivity to switch sporting codes and teams like most of us switch socks. It’s the former we are interested in, for the purpose of this discussion.

We’ve postulated about the disappearance of manners and common courtesy on TDoT before. It’s something that I’ve gone on the record as questioning, and I’m not going to waste my Sunday afternoon doing it again. The segment of the article that caught my attention was how changes in communication methods are, at least in part, apparently contributing to the demise of humanity. June Dally-Watkins cites other causes as Germaine Greer and denim, but we won’t go into that in this post – I assume that JDW will be asked to clarify her “’I’m yours, take me” comment by other members of the media.

While I agree with Ms Dally-Watkins that hand-written correspondence carries with it a level of romanticism, it’s just not something that’s feasible in what has become such a time-poor society. Upon completing a quick audit in my head, the only things that I’ve sent or received in the last decade that have demonstrated any level of penmanship have been the obligatory birthday cards that we feel socially compelled to send each other. If you analyse them, most contain a marginal amount of forethought, and a tepid, generic level of familiarity. Why? Because in the time we should spend trying to create an original and genuine message, we’re too busy fucking around trying to buy the cards, stationery and plethora of other paraphernalia one needs to send anything via snail mail. Producing hand-written correspondence has become an inconvenience in the 21st century – why would I bother attempting it, when I can send the same well thought out, impassioned message instantly – and essentially for free – via text or email?

As long as you use manners and show respect for others when you communicate, why should the actual method of delivery matter? Technology is continuing to advance at a seemingly exponential rate, offering new ways in which to keep in touch with people, both on professional and personal levels. The telegram and weekly letter have long left the station, and while they are, for those who experienced them, charming to reminisce about, they didn’t purchase a return ticket. Things constantly change, and perhaps one day, those who grew up not knowing life without Twitter, Facebook or their iPhone, will look back on receiving a grammatically correct, punctuated email with the same fondness that their grandparents do a letter sent par avion from afar.

In closing, I’d like to thank you for reading. If you’d all be so kind as to advise me of your mailing addresses, I’ll be forwarding hand-written testaments of gratitude in the coming days.