Cafe owner fires back as customer claims he was “forced” to drink oat milk

Vegan cafe has been praised for responding to a one-star review (Photo: Jam Press)

Either you are a big fan of oat milk, or you prefer your cream from other sources (be it almonds or cows).

A customer of Café Van Gogh, a 100% vegan restaurant in Brixton, clearly fell into the latter camp.

After visiting the establishment, they left a one-star review – since deleted – accusing the cafe of “forcing” them to drink oat milk.

The note read: “A coffee that doesn’t have normal milk?” Very strange experience.

“It says ‘vegan friendly,’ but he’s just vegan.

“I had to have an oatmeal cappuccino. It tasted like porridge.

Rather than just sitting around and accepting the usual anti-vegan vibes, Steve Clarke, 47, who runs the nonprofit with chef and co-owner Bonita de Silva, decided to fight back.

response to negative review of van gogh cafe
A customer was not happy with his oat milk cappuccino, which he said “tasted like porridge” (Jam Press / Steve Clarke / Café Van Gogh)

Steve accused the anonymous customer of “vegan baiting” and then called him a “poor sausage” (one made from tempeh, imagine).

Steve replied, “You walked into a fully vegan cafe. We make no apologies, it is a big part of our ethical position.

“You would have been asked if you preferred oat milk or soy milk. You could have left then, but instead you allowed us to “force” you to drink a cappuccino that you didn’t like.

“For reasons unknown to us, you didn’t tell the staff anything at the time (we probably wouldn’t have charged you) but chose to sign up on Tripadvisor to relay the horrors of your experience to the world with your a- star review. (Which doesn’t say anything about our coffee, just your palate.)

“You put a big smile on all of our faces. We love a Keyboard Warrior, and we hope we didn’t hurt you when we forced this coffee down your copper neck.

    Steve Clarke (right) and his business partner Bonita de Silva at Café Van Gogh.
Co-owner Steve Clarke and business partner Bonita de Silva refused to take the bad review while lying down (Photo: Jam Press / Steve Clarke / Café Van Gogh)

The Cafe is a nonprofit social enterprise that trains and employs adults with learning disabilities and “runs on kindness” – operating a pay-in-advance program where patrons can purchase coffee for those with disabilities. who cannot afford it.

Steve thinks the reviewer was having a bad day and notes that while he wouldn’t respond normally, he was a little fed up with these kinds of messages.

“Poor sausage,” he said. “I think it was just vegan bait. I think the guy walked in, a bit of a keyboard warrior, and didn’t say anything to the team about his displeasure.

“We don’t know who it was, it’s just disappointing enough. We try to run on cuteness.

“My response to the review wasn’t as kind as it might have been, I’m aware, but it got me thinking.

“We’re a non-profit social enterprise, some of our team have learning disabilities, we work really hard to try to get it right.

Some employees of Café Van Gogh
The cafe is a vegan non-profit company (Photo: Jam Press / Steve Clarke / Café Van Gogh)

“We tend to do very well with our reviews, and I prefer people to give personal comments.

“We are not vegan evangelists, this is how we run our business, we try to stick to very high ethical standards and I don’t think we can honestly do that and serve anything other than plant milk. .

“But we’re not anarchists, we’re not radicals, we’re not trying to change people’s minds. People come with their own expectations and that’s okay too.

While other one-star reviews have popped up in place of the deleted one, overall Steve’s answer seems to have wowed some potential customers – so it all worked out in the end, the oat milk and all. .

Steve added, “I don’t want a customer to leave disappointed. So, you know, if he had had his balls on the bottle to say, “Oh, I’m not very keen on this”, he wouldn’t have been charged.

“I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon saying you don’t have to have oat milk, but cows are forced.”

“It would take a lot for me to try and damage someone’s credentials with a one star review.”

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