June 30, 2011
Out of the Closet and into the Tweets

A new installment in the Brown Coffee Co. saga dropped today. In a blog post titled “He Smiles,” Brown Coffee owner Aaron Blanco states the coffee shop was packed with supportive customers.

He writes: “I haven’t checked yet, but I think we had our second biggest sales day ever, second only to the last day before Christmas last year. And so I want to say thank you. Thanks to all of you who showed us that while personal beliefs are, well, very personal, they do not have to be buried or compartmentalized; that we are undeniably whole people.”

First, some context. And subtext.

In a marathon session last Friday, June 24, the New York State Senate approved gay marriage. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law.

That same night, the official Twitter account of Brown Coffee, a highly-regarded microroaster in San Antonio, Tex., tweeted: “No Human law can ever legitimize what natural law precludes. #SorryFolks #NotEqual #WhyBother #ChasingAfterTheWind #SelfEvident.”

Shortly after, RBC NYC, a New York coffee bar that has championed Brown Coffee and carried its products, posted on its Tumblr account that “Although we won’t tell you what RBC stands for, we’ll let you know it doesn’t stand for intolerance and bigotry, therefore we will not be doing business with The Brown Coffee Co. anymore.”

Sprudge.com chronicled it here, Eater.com picked it up here, and the story went national. As Eater.com likes to put it: Boom.

Even Anthony Bourdain, never one to hold his prose punches, joined in. On June 28 he tweeted “Dear Brown Coffee: God called. He said you suck.”

I’ll let Sprudge.com nail the details: Brown Coffee’s locked Twitter account, the first apology (now deleted) that said the tweet was a musing on classical philosophy, the second apology (also deleted) that stated: “everyone in this small family company is deeply regretful of all the offense we have caused everyone in this situation.”

Then today, Mr. Blanco posted “He Smiles.” According to Mr. Blanco, he considered keeping Brown Coffee closed an extra day (the coffee shop is open Wednesday through Saturday), in order “to let this crud blow over.”

It seems to have blown. Mr. Blanco states: “And so we opened our doors like normal. And something very normal happened. People came in the door and they bought coffee. Lots of it. Extra bags of it. Extra rounds of it. They bought coffee gear, empty jute bags we have lying around and extra packs of coffee filters. They bought drinks for people they’ve never bought drinks for. They bought  Brown shirts for themselves that they already owned. They bought practically anything that wasn’t nailed down. And they smiled. And it was good. And there was much rejoicing.”

- Oliver Strand

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