EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK: Christ in a coffee cup

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Union Coffee opened at the end of 2018 and targets millennials with their marketing. (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

Last week Sayaka Matsuoka’s feature about Union Coffee really jammed up our server, where weaknesses were exposed in the processing of more than 33,000 pageviews.

The piece revealed that Union Coffee, which targets millennials in their marketing and menu, gives all of its profits to a conservative church whose views on same-sex marriage and LGBT rights do not jibe with that of the desired demographic.

The outrage came fast and hot after we dropped the story on the site as it got pushed through social media channels faster than a kitten cuddling with a poop emoji.

And I didn’t quite understand it.

I am not the desired demo, of course — I drink a lot of coffee, and I’m old by millennials’ standards. I hadn’t heard of the place until just a couple of weeks before when I took a meeting there.

Great coffee.

And I guess I wasn’t outraged enough?

Religious affiliation is not in and itself an issue for me. I rather enjoy the depictions of Ganesha in most of the Indian restaurants I go to; I attended a Jesuit university; I used to frequent the Hari Krishna place when it was open on Tate Street. And I never had a problem with Chik-fil-A’s overtly religious vibe… until they got all spendy on the wrong side of the LGBT stuff, the wrong side of justice and the wrong side of history.

One millennial told me her umbrage stemmed from Union’s marketing. She found out about the place through a sponsored Instagram post, targeted specifically to her demographic. She liked the coffee, and never bothered to check the place out — its religious affiliation is no secret, posted on its website and social media pages, and it takes another layer of digging to understand the Wesleyan Church’s views on LGBT issues.

To her, it felt like a bait and switch.

Me, I don’t take the sins of marketing personally. But I can’t go to Union Coffee anymore because to do so would ultimately harm people that I love. It’s as simple as that.

But Jesus, that’s good coffee.

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