A couple of weeks ago, I launched a campaign against bad pastries served in Seattle coffee shops. Apparently I touched a nerve. I received a huge response from people who are tired of bad pastries, people like Greg McBrady, who noticed the underlying similarity of industrial pastries, no matter what their form.
"I know now that they are all, no matter where I see them, made of the same crappy mush," McBrady wrote. "The cookie tastes exactly like the muffin; the muffin exactly like the scone, the bagel like the pound cake...."
As I said in my original piece, there is no excuse for bad pastries. I singled out one main culprit, Mostly Muffins, whose oversweet and overmixed pastries make for dismal breakfast at a broad swath of Seattle coffee shops. It's too bad because there are plenty of good wholesale bakeries in town-like Macrina, Essential Baking, and Le Fournil, for example-who can stock cafes with yummy pastries for just a little more than Mostly Muffins.
I also received one letter from a barista, Adam Agustyne, defending his anonymous indie coffee shop's right to serve mediocre pastries. "I realize that you and many others like fancy, expensive pastries (lord knows I myself am not fond of a lot of Mostly Muffins' goods), but our main concern is coffee." Agustyne also argues that if the coffee shop where he works served better, pricier pastries then customers who only tip spare change would have less small money with which to tip him.
I'm not buying it, Agustyne. First off, someone who cares about the taste and the integrity of the coffee he serves should care about the taste and integrity of the muffin he serves alongside it. And better, slightly more expensive pastries shouldn't decrease your tips. As far as I can tell, the key is keeping the price of a latte and a pastry just above a round dollar amount, thereby freeing up plenty of change for a tip. Of course, really thoughtful people use whole dollars for tipping. If anyone out there knows Agustyne, please help me convince him that his tips will not be impacted by my campaign to stamp out bad pastries.
Finally, next week I'm going to start naming names. Report coffee shops dishing out criminally awful pastries to firstname.lastname@example.org.