Some huge dumb nerve has been hit in the mainstream media following one woman’s reaction to being served a shot of espresso with milk on the side at a Melbourne, Australia-area roastery and café.
Of all the real horrors played out throughout the world on a daily basis, several popular news outlets have determined that the “deconstructed coffee” — a shot of espresso in one vessel with frothed milk on the side in another — served by a Melbourne coffee shop is, above all others, a signifier of society’s doom.
“In what might be the worst trend since chopping boards for plates or fry baskets for chips (which have been slowly chipping away at our souls for years), deconstructed coffee is here to destroy us once and for all,” Mashable reporter Johnny Lieu wrote in a commentary for Mashable.
Several hours later, UK Mirror reporter Nicola Oakley put her own unique spin on the controversy, writing, “From chips served in mini shopping trolleys to dinner being presented on a slate tile, restaurants and cafés are always coming up with new ways to ‘wow’ us — even when we don’t want to be wowed.”
Ok, so maybe it’s not just deconstructed coffee that’s destroying us; it’s also deep-fried-potato service.
The BBC News, which regularly reports on issues such as war, human trafficking and slavery, nuclear weapons proliferation, and climate change, was prompted by the story to ask, “Is it a coffee separated into its component parts, or a harbinger of humanity’s last days?”
What started all this ironic yet somehow also humorless nonsense was a social media post by an Australian media personality named Jamila Rizvi who took to the web to criticize the beverage offering put before her. “Sorry Melbourne but no. No no no no no,” she wrote. “Hipsterism has gone too far when your coffee comes deconstructed … I wanted a coffee. Not a science experiment. I prefer to drink my beverages out of crockery and not beakers.”
Of course it’s perfectly fine for Rizvi to have her coffee preferences. We applaud her appreciation of crockery instead of disposable options and we’re certain there are hundreds of cafés throughout the great coffee city of Melbourne that can happily accommodate such uncomplicated wishes.
We also applaud Rizvi for possessing the kind of thoughtful perspective that others of us in the media world may occasionally lack. Following two days of phone calls with journalists and thousands of Facebook responses and comments, Rizvi followed up her Facebook post on deconstructed coffee with these comments:
Australia is in the middle of an election campaign; faced with a choice about the kind of economic and social future we want this country to have. There are serious conversations that need to take place about school funding, negative gearing, superannuation, business tax rates, immigration and the future of Medicare.
Now, I’m not suggesting for a moment that everything published on the Internet has to be worthy or even important. I’m a former digital media editor. I understand the power of a photo, some faux-outrage and a bait-worthy headline. In fact, I used to make a living from exactly that. I’m also an avid digital content consumer. I love a baby name trends story, a gallery of Oscars frocks and a silly cat video, as much as the next person.
But let’s recognise this stuff for what it is – white noise — and not allow it to distract us too much from what actually matters. Enjoy it, laugh at it, make a witty sarcastic comment if you must, and then — move on.
(note: This post was updated on July 2. An original version of this story identified the shop that served the coffee pictured in Rizvi’s Facebook post as Industry Beans, as initially confirmed by the Daily Mail in a story that has since been updated. Industry Beans Co-Owner Steve Simmons told Daily Coffee News that the quality-focused roastery and café was misrepresented in the Daily Mail story, and the coffee photographed did not come from Industry Beans.)