When he’s making music, Seattle’s Matt Watson goes by the name Spekulation. Like a lot of artists and musicians, he works as a barista to support his music making career. Rather, he did work as a barista until a few days ago when he was fired from All City Coffee in Georgetown.
Two weeks ago Matt started the website Bitter Barista, where he posts snarky Tweets about his life behind the espresso machine.
“The coffee of the day is an Ethiopian dark roast blended with broken dreams and despair,” reads one of the tweets on Bitter Barista.
Matt says the tweets are hyperbolic, mostly made up and definitely satire.
“‘This guy just got mad because we don’t have the Yellow Pages. But we also don’t have an abacus or a sundial.’ My favorite is, ‘When I ask if it’s for here or to go, I’m only curious what cup you want. Not what your plans for the day are.'”
Some Tweets mention his boss.
“The harshest one was, ‘When I tweet, I like to use big words, so if my if my boss every finds my Twitter account he won’t understand any of it.’ Which isn’t true at all, obviously, but it just seemed witty at the time, so I posted it.”
His boss didn’t think it was so witty.
Only two weeks after its creation, Bitter Barista was getting thousands of hits and it caught the attention of the coffee-centric website Sprudge.com. Sprudge revealed Matt’s real name and the name of the coffee shop. Matt was promptly fired. But was he surprised to lose his job?
“No, not after all the hubbub. The article that outed me as being the Bitter Barista tagged my work in it, ended up calling my work, tagged Cafe Vita in it. So I expected there to be a lot of backlash and I don’t have any ill will for being fired.”
Matt has worked as a barista for about 10 years. Reading through the website, one would assume he hates his job and the customers he serves every day.
“No, I clearly like my customers very much. I’ve been at that place for over two years. I generally like what I do. I think we all have jobs we want to complain about. I’m a rapper by trade so my immediate instinct is to express it by words.”
Monica Guzman is a digital life columnist for The Seattle Times and GeekWire.
“We see this happen over and over and over again. There are cases that range from the humorous to the very serious. I think our reaction is to want to say, ‘Okay, everybody, nobody ever vent. Nobody ever be frustrated online.’ But I think we all know, those of us who are on social media, that sometimes it can be nice to reach out with some frustration. Just be mindful. Just know what you’re putting at risk and be willing to accept consequences if they come.”
Sprudge.com says they did not intend to have Matt fired, but its creators are not fans of Bitter Barista.
“Especially to be written on the clock, as an employee at the shop, tweeting about customers who just walked out the door. Tweeting about your employers,” says Sprudge co-founder and managing editor Jordan Michaelman. “Doing those sorts of things. This is not common practice in the industry.”
Matt says he’s gotten several job offers since being fired, by cafes that know why he was laid off. He says has no plans of shutting Bitter Barista down.
“It’s a good, creative way for me to just complain about my job, which I think all of us want to do at this point. So I’m going to keep it going for my mental health.”