El Camino Blog

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Bloomington Coffee Houses, The Copper Cup

The Copper Cup, 3:50pm, September 3, 2006, 8th and College, Bloomington - This was actually my first coffee house visit in Bloomington, and I held out a lot of hope for it. But to be honest, I dreaded the whole experience. The décor: passable. Mostly retro-mod, with butterscotch wood- and chrome chairs and table-ettes. Interesting hyperbolic purple and green velour loveseat-chair ensemble in one corner. The ceiling was very high, the floor a glazed concrete; in other words, a predominance of post-modern touches. But the retail coffee-tea sale display (and serving bar) looked quite antique and felt out of place. It took me a while to notice that there is a narrow seating corridor off to the left behind the service counter. Kind of impersonal, but the place looks mostly business, anyway. A well-wired, quiet nook for studious co-eds.
Therein lay a problem. I asked the server-gal if they had wi-fi, already knowing that the Student Union brochure listed Copper Cup as wi-fi equipped. “Well, yeah, but it’s been on and off. They’ve been working on it, but it’s just been on and off”, with the faintly hostile hint of “no, I’m not going to help you get online today, you’re not doing any of that today.”
The server babe really didn’t want to be there, apparently. “What do you want?” No thank-you’s. She was lethargically slow, treating each customer as an isolated case, as if the next person in line didn’t exist and would never be served. There was a big window display about all kinds of great panini sandwiches and such, as if this place is equipped to handle full-time food business. When I asked about the grub, the reply was, “Whatever is in the case is what we have.” A total of two prefab-looking pastrami sandwiches, ready-to-go in clear plastic containers. No pesto, or any other of the more exotic paninis displayed prominently on the service counter menu. The sandwich took a normal amount of time to grill, but the coffee was interminably slow to come to gestation, and after trying to kill time locating a seat, plugging in the laptop, and picking pieces of lint off my laptop bag, I went back up in front of the service counter and waited awkwardly. The server-in-training, after the sandwich was toasted, that condiments and jalapeno chips (no other chip varieties, apparently) were available. Sort of. The question was sort of thrown at me, apparently to make me feel even more awkward. “You want mustard or jalapenos?” That’s what the question sounded like, at least. It took a further 45 seconds or so to get the final order details straightened out. Then, after she tossed the foodservice mustard packets, she asked me AGAIN if I wanted chips. With quite an air of impatience, too, not of any ounce of concern that I could tell. With a vague sense of loathing and defeat (which I paid $10.38 for, which I’ll finally get to laugh about the next time I’m at Panera), I sat down and ate a bit (the sandwich was passable; but at least I got top-quality Heinz Foodservice mustard packets!!). Treated with slow-burning contempt by this wench at every turn, I sat down and composed a draft of this review quietly at my seat. Interestingly, the server-ette seemed to sense that something was up; she threw obnoxiously baleful, hostile, and/or panicked glances and head-nods in my direction. I thought the one unwritten rule of ‘merely poor service’ was that the server STOPPED torturing a customer, once you were done having to communicate with them. At least the coffee itself (I had the White Chocolate Mocha) was decent. Honestly, this was my first review, on my weekend off in Bloomington, and I wanted a happy experience. I wasn’t going to publish this review, being as negative as it is, but then I figured: If your establishment is merely a humble snack bar, don’t advertise it as something more enticing. This place is about as ready to be a 'Copper Cup' as La Choy Chow Mein is to be 'Fine Mandarin Cuisine'. Hell, "Wild Bean Cafe" would be a better place to visit. Confucius would probably agree with that much. I hope that chick gets a really bad rash. 1 ½ stars.


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