Storm in a coffee cup: vida e cafe in hot water with Independent Media. But where is the line?

Friday, 22 November, 2019

As a café owner, a barista or even a customer in a coffee shop (or restaurant),  where do you stand on criticisms of your establishment, on what you allow in your café and/or who you allow in?

This week a vida e café outlet in Cape Town received the full wrath of Independent Media newspapers’ front pages across the country along with roadside headlines to go with their indignation. Most of you have read the story so we won’t re-hash the details ( but you can click on the links below if you missed it) 

Making overly dramatic headlines. A slow news day perhaps?

The front page of the Mercury this week.

Independent Media welcomes vida e caffè apology over poster › 2019/11/19 › independent-media-welcomes-vida-e-caff... › capeargus › news › vida-e-caffe-apologises-over-in...

This reminded me of another infamous and on-going feud between Top 10 Chef, Bertus Bassoon and blogger Chris van Ulmenstein that spawed the “No Whales allowed” sign that is displayed in many a Cape Town establishment as a protest against self-appointed food experts brandishing their opinions around the internet on their blogs.

Like any robust debate, there are good arguments for freedom of speech and freedom of expression on the side of the blogger and the customers who want to enjoy a newspaper while sipping their latte, and there are good arguments for freedom of choice on the side of the café owner who can decide which media he wants to subscribe to for his/her café.   

Our opinion is that the café owner was wrong in putting up a sign prohibiting the reading of any Independent Media titles in the shop, as that of course one cannot do, but surely he/she is well within their rights to choose which media they pay for and have available in their stores? Even us, as Coffee Magazine, are not in every coffee shop or roastery in SA, as much as we would like to be, we can’t force owners to stock our magazine! 

Similarly, what does one do about a customer who goes online to trash your Cafés, your products, your service on an ongoing basis? Are you allowed to ban them? Are you allowed to ban anyone?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 

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