Friday, October 12, 2012

"Orders which must be obeyed"*

The best article ever: Kate Connolly of the Guardian reports on a coffee shop in Berlin that has banned, among other things, strollers:

Ralf Rüller wanted to create a sacred ground for coffee connoisseurs in the heart of Berlin, somewhere devotees of the bean could sip their brews free from distraction. 
This purist – not to say militant – approach to coffee-drinking extended to a long list of rules at his brew bar, the Barn Roastery, including a ban on extra milk, spoons, laptops, dogs, mobile phone ringtones, loud phone calls and "media" (apart from newspapers). Sugar is strongly discouraged. 
Nothing like a coffee shop with rules! But so many rules. And in Germany? Anticipating your thought, person-reared-on-"Seinfeld"-and-Britcoms - Connolly helpfully adds:
Before moving back to Berlin several years ago, Rüller worked as an actor in London where he often played Nazi soldiers in British TV war dramas. He says it feels as if he has been cast as the Nazi in his own coffeehouse drama.
Apparently Rüller is called a coffee Nazi in Germany, which will come as news to those who hadn't realized the culinary use of the term would be kosher-as-it-were in those parts.

But I don't know. It doesn't sound as if children are banned, just strollers, which isn't so out-there. And all the insane attention to detail? All the superior coffee? I think it sounds fantastic, not fascistic:
The staff, who come from as far afield as Australia and Mexico, include Rob MacDonald, a dairy farmer from Australia who claims his tastebuds are so refined he can tell what a cow has eaten from the flavour of its milk. "I love this artistic approach to coffee," says the 27-year-old, who as well as training to be a barista is – perhaps inevitably – learning to play the jazz xylophone.
And thus bringing hipsters-make-your-food to a whole new level.

*Ironic, I suppose, given how much the Barn Roastery approach to customer service reminds one of Fawlty Towers.


i said...

One has to realise that Berlin is really, super-duper kid-friendly. In certain parts of town, you can't go to a coffee shop or cake store without seeing a ton of strollers. (Mine is one of them.) And there are a lot of cafe options.

So even though I'm stroller-pushin' myself, I'm not offended if someone doesn't want them in their shop. They really do get in the way. And even though I love to work in a coffee shop, I also don't get offended when coffee shops ban laptops, or -- as a local cafe does -- have a room to the side designated for them. They create a different kind of mood, and it's not a mood of relaxation.

But yeah, I also only recently realised the joking "Nazi" designation can be used here. I was with a group of students, out on a coffee break from the Staatsbibliothek, and someone made a joke about the cell phone Nazi. Because in this library, if your phone goes off and they catch you, they seriously will not only kick you out, but ask for your card and refuse to allow you in until the next day.

Given how much time I've spent either being annoyed with people phoning in libraries, or out and out confronting them, that's the kind of fascism I can get behind.

Phoebe said...


Berlin's kid-friendliness was mentioned either in this article, or in another in the Guardian about this. But it seemed the same idea as when Park Slope bars ban kids and everyone on both sides loses it. As someone who neither has nor hates kids, I stand on the sidelines, mystified.