March 1, 2019

GREAT MOMENTS IN COVER STORIES: High-end coffee company Blue Bottle will ban cash at 12 locations across the country starting on March 11 as part of a month-long experiment that aims to speed up purchases, the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Two of Blue Bottle’s San Francisco locations, at 1355 Market St. and 2 South Park, will participate.

“Credit card transactions are smoother for both our guests and the baristas,” said Shawna Sharie, vice president of retail for Blue Bottle, which is headquartered in Oakland and majority-owned by Swiss food giant Nestlé.

The move reflects a growing cashless trend across the restaurant industry, which is eager to make service more efficient. But that trend has also triggered a backlash from those who say banning cash excludes people unable to obtain credit cards or other electronic payment methods.

“For a lot of low-income San Franciscans, credit cards or other phone-based mobile payments aren’t an option,” said San Francisco Supervisor Vallie Brown. Brown introduced a measure in December to ban cash bans at permanent brick-and-mortar businesses in San Francisco.

“My message to businesses like Blue Bottle that serve the public is simple: accept cash,” she said in an email. “Do we really want to live in a city where our neighbors are excluded from certain coffee shops or lunch counters? I don’t.”

On Twitter, Rob Province, aka, “Educated Hillbilly” asks, “Am I a total racist for thinking this is a way to keep poor & minority customers out of their hip San Francisco coffee shop?” Not at all. Beyond that, as Glenn noted in December, “This is mostly a stealthy way to keep homeless people out.”

Even in San Francisco (read: especially in San Francisco) as Robert Conquest’s First Law of Politics states, everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

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