Is the Coffee Challenge Unethical?


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So this week my newsletter was about coffee. Specifically, it was about Noah Kagan‘s Coffee Challenge. In short, you are supposed to go into a coffee shop, order a fancy coffee, then ask the barista for a 10% discount. I go into the reasons for this in the newsletter.

I got a couple of interesting reactions to the newsletter, which I will quote in next week’s edition, with permission. But I want to extract one statement:

I actually think its not fair to the barrista – why have to make her or him have to confront a customer?

I asked one friend who actually worked as a barista at Starbucks, and she didn’t seem to think it was an issue. But I’d love to know what you think.

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8 Responses to “Is the Coffee Challenge Unethical?”

  1. Peter Wright Says:

    Not unethical at all, brassy maybe, cheeky certainly, but all’s fair in love, war and a free enterprise society.

    All the barrista has to do is say NO.

    In many parts of the world, it is the custom for buyers and sellers to haggle over the price of everything, including a cup of coffee.
    Peter Wright recently posted…Focused or Scattered? Creator or Consumer?My Profile

  2. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    I guess the point is that here it is not common, and doing this to the barista without prior consent is unfair. They are not a piece of furniture in the store. I’m not sure I agree that this would be a reason not to do the challenge.

  3. Zohar Says:

    I still don’t get it. What is this for? To teach you to accept ‘No’? You’ve had enough nos in your life babe. Is it to teach you to be assertive? Then it seems like a cop out to be assertive to someone in a service job – how about practicing it where it would do good –like a bureaucracy that needs changing? I don’t want to rain on the parade, but it seems a bit like playing with yourself to make a muscle in a coffee shop — especially whe you KNOW that you have no case…I still don’t get it. Why not find some situation where you do have a case and being assertive there. Then, if you win, its meaningful.

  4. Jen Says:

    I agree with the comment. If the barista is young – say, a high school kid with an after school job, I can imagine them feeling awfully confused and worried about how to react. It seems confrontational and exactly as Zohar says – for no good reason. Odd challenge. (And I didn’t see your last newsletter! It must have gotten lost in email I got while we had my parents visiting. Must go back and check!)

  5. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Jen! There is a reason for it, which I go into more deeply in tomorrow’s newsletter. Do let me know if you don’t get it at 11:30 am your time tomorrow.

  6. Jen Says:

    I found it….it did indeed fall victim to the DH birthday/anniversary/visit-from-the-parents craziness. I’ve read it now, and enjoyed it!!

  7. Tom Says:

    I think it would be good if we launched a campaign to encourage all baristas to tack a 10% surcharge on to Noah Kagan’s order every time he comes in. Or urge everyone doing business with Noah Kagan to ask him for a 10% discount. Nothing wrong with that, right?

  8. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    LOL! Great idea.

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