What supposedly started out as a fun idea to get people thinking about how water affects the taste of coffee turned into a PR nightmare for a coffee shop in Dublin, Ireland, after the media caught wind of a recent menu change which included a four shot “Water Tasting” for a price of €3.50.
“Sometimes people will buy a bag of coffee from us to make at home and they’ll come back and say it brews really, really badly, and they might blame us. But they might not realize it’s the water,” Colin Harmon, owner of 3fe Coffee, told the Independent. “We thought, how are we going to find a way to get people thinking about water, and we came up with an idea of water tasting.” It’s worth mentioning that FWx did a little digging into this last year and the barista we spoke to echoed Harmon’s claim that water makes a big difference in coffee’s flavor.
The biggest point of contention on social media, however, wasn’t the concept, but the price – an amount equal to an actual cup of coffee. In a blog post on the shop’s website, Harmon tried to explain the tasting’s price tag before offering an apology. “To be honest my thinking was that I couldn't put it down for free because there was a danger we'd end up with an awkward workload at busy times, as it takes a lot of explaining and prep,” he wrote. “I just put the first number down that popped into my head but with hindsight I now greatly regret that decision.”
That said, Harmon didn’t want to give up on getting his point across. The water curious can still find the water tasting on 3fe’s menu at its original price, but now all proceeds will be donated to Wells for Zoe, an Irish charity helping people in Africa get access to clean water.
“To me, if people see water tasting on the menu, and they ask ‘what’s that?’ and they still don’t order it, then it’s done its job,” Harmon said when speaking to the Independent. “It's got people thinking.” Well, if the point was to get people talking and thinking, it sounds like he definitely achieved his goal and then some.