Manner Coffee Sees Two Customer-Barista Altercations in One Day

Known for its affordable prices, Manner Coffee now faces criticism for cutting operational costs by overworking staff

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7:05 PM HKT, Tue June 25, 2024 1 mins read

Rapidly-expanding Chinese budget coffee chain Manner Coffee has faced criticism recently due to two altercations between staff and customers, which both occurred on June 17th. In the incident that has received the most attention, which occurred at their location on Meihua Road in Shanghai, a customer began filming a barista due to long wait times, causing the barista to grab their phone. On same day, at another Manner café in Shanghai, this time at 716 Weihai Road, a customer threatened to complain about the staff, prompting a barista to angrily throw coffee grounds at them and shout, “Go ahead, complain!”

Following the incidents, Manner Coffee responded by firing the barista involved in the coffee grounds incident and settling with the other customer. They pledged to improve store management. However, issues such as long wait times for coffee persist, attributed to poor shift planning and inadequate staffing.


Security camera footage of the Weihai Road incident.

Manner Coffee does not allocate time for preparation before opening, forcing morning shift employees to start commuting on the first subway train every day. Additionally, Manner allocates staff based on location performance: locations that earn less than 5,000 RMB per day are only assigned one employee. With an average price of 15 RMB per cup of coffee at Manner, to reach this threshold a barista would need to make more than 333 cups of coffee in a day. That’s a lot of coffee to make while also handling cashier duties and cleaning, not to mention that it would leave scant time for breaks.

Since receiving its first round of venture capital funding in 2018, Manner has expanded at a breakneck pace — and keeping staffing costs low is one way it has maintained its prices. The two incidents in June weren’t the first time Manner staff and customers have clashed: another altercation took place in Shanghai’s Pudong New District in May, leading Manner to apologize on Weibo.

As news spread about these incidents, consumers expressed their disappointment online. Manner Coffee used to embody an affordable luxury, offering a relaxed moment of escape for busy urban office workers. But evidently the hidden cost is the enormous pressure placed on front line baristas. It remains to be seen what Manner may to do to return to its original philosophy, “Make Coffee Part of Your Life.”

Banner image via Manner Coffee , showing the company’s first café, opened in 2015 on Nanyang Road, Shanghai.

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