Owner of vegan non-profit cafe hits back at customer who left one star TripAdvisor review claiming he was ‘forced’ to drink oat milk cappuccino that ‘tasted like porridge’
- Café Van Gogh, in Brixton, south London, received seething TripAdvisor review
- Steve Clarke, 47, who runs non-profit cafe, says customer was ‘vegan baiting’
- Customer, who has since deleted review, said it was a ‘very weird experience’
A vegan cafe owner has hit back at a customer who left a one star review claiming they were ‘forced’ to drink an oat milk cappuccino.
Café Van Gogh, in Brixton, south London, received the seething TripAdvisor review yesterday from an anonymous customer, who criticised the vegan cafe’s lack of ‘normal milk’ and said the oat milk ‘tasted like porridge’.
Steve Clarke, 47, who runs the non-profit cafe with head chef and co-owner Bonita de Silva, says the customer didn’t say anything at the time and thinks they were simply ‘vegan baiting’.
Steve Clarke, 47, and his partner Bonita de Silva (both pictured) run the non-profit Café Van Gogh, in Brixton, south London
Yesterday they received the seething TripAdvisor review yesterday from an anonymous customer who criticised the vegan cafe’s lack of ‘normal milk’
The customer, who has since deleted their review, wrote: ‘A coffee shop that doesn’t have normal milk? Very weird experience.
‘It says ‘vegan friendly’ but is just vegan. I was forced to have an oat milk cappuccino. It tasted like porridge.’
Steve replied: ‘You stepped into a fully vegan cafe. We make no apologies for this, it’s a huge part of our ethical stance.
‘You’d have been asked if you preferred oat milk or soya milk. You could have left at that point, but instead you allowed us to ‘force’ you to drink a cappuccino that you didn’t like.
The cafe operates on a pay-it-forward scheme where customers can buy coffee for those who find themselves in a pinch. Pictured, employees of Café Van Gogh
‘For reasons unknown to us, you didn’t say anything to staff at the time (we’d likely not have billed you) but you chose to sign up to TripAdvisor to relay the horrors of your experience to the world with your one-star review. (Which says nothing about our café, just your palate.)
‘You’ve put a broad smile on all of our faces. We love a keyboard warrior, and we hope we didn’t hurt you when we forced that coffee down your brass neck.’
The cafe is a non-profit social enterprise that trains and employs adults with learning disabilities, and ‘runs on kindness’ – operating a pay-it-forward scheme where customers can buy coffee for those who find themselves in a pinch.
Co-owner Steve believes that the reviewer was simply having a bad day, adding that several more one-star reviews had since appeared as a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction from ‘keyboard warriors’.
The cafe is a non-profit social enterprise that trains and employs adults with learning disabilities, and ‘runs on kindness’. Pictured, the exterior of the south London cafe
‘Poor sausage, I think it was just vegan baiting’, said Steve. ‘I think the guy came in, a bit of a keyboard warrior, and didn’t say anything to any of the team about his dissatisfaction.
‘We don’t know who it was, it’s just quite disappointing we try to run on kindness.
‘My response to the review wasn’t as kind as it could have been, I’m aware, but it did my head in. We’re a non-profit social enterprise, some of our team have learning disabilities, we work really hard to try and get things right.
‘We tend to do really well with our reviews, and I prefer if people give personal feedback.
‘We’re not vegan evangelists, this is how we run our business, we try to stick to really high ethical standards and I don’t think that we could honestly do that and serve anything but plant milk.
The co-owner added that had the customer voiced his dissatisfaction he wouldn’t have been charged at all. Pictured, the interior of Café Van Gogh, in Brixton
‘But we’re not anarchists, we’re not radicals, we’re not trying to change people’s minds about things. People come with their own expectations and that’s fine too.’
The co-owner added that had the customer voiced his dissatisfaction he wouldn’t have been charged at all.
Steve added: ‘I don’t want a customer to leave disappointed. So you know if he had the balls on the bottle to say “Oh, I’m not dead keen on this”, he wouldn’t have been charged.
‘I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon of saying you weren’t forced to have oat milk, but cows are forced. It would take a lot for me to try and damage somebody’s credentials with a one-star review.’
After the café owner shared the review to Instagram, with the caption ‘You can’t win ’em all…’, commenters were quick to point out that the reviewer sounded as if they had been ‘held at gunpoint’.
One commented: ‘I like the way this is positioned as if you held them at gunpoint until they drank the oat milk.’
After the café owner shared the review to Instagram, with the caption ‘You can’t win ’em all…’, commenters were quick to point out that the reviewer sounded as if they had been ‘held at gunpoint
Another wrote: ‘Yes I completely sympathise with them. It must be hard trying to find a cafe that serves cow’s milk. SARCASM BUTTON’
Whilst one commenter asked: ‘Please force one down my neck, it sounds delicious.’
Another added: ‘I was forced to have an oat milk cappuccino’ Do they understand the word ‘force’. They should look into the dairy industry and then they will see what it really means to be forced into something.’
One wrote: ‘I think they mean “a coffee shop that doesn’t exploit animals….”. It deserves 100 stars not 1 star!’
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