For sure. Yelp sucks.
Trying to tow that line between quality and accessibility is the great challenge of third-wave coffee right now, particularly in newer markets. I do not pretend to have answers, but am working on it.
For sure, at the end of the day you serve someone a product and then it's theirs to do with as they please. Our approach is that we only have certain things available in the stores (whole milk, almond milk, half & half, simple syrup). We can't serve you something we don't have, but we aren't going to tell you how to prepare your drink.
This approach does not stop people from leaving negative reviews on Yelp about how we "refuse" to serve skim milk or vanilla syrup.
The milk and sugar thing sounds a bit over the top. As a cafe owner I can tell you it's a tough thing to get right. Unless you have EVERY option under the sun available, someone is going to be pissed and accuse you of being pretentious. The Kaladi's guy makes a lot of good points. I just wish it didn't all have the tone of an old guy whining about "kids these days".
I think the author has a pretty skewed view of the South. There's actually lots of great coffee happening down here and has been for years. He makes it seem like we are coming into this totally open market where no one is doing anything interesting, and it's just not true. I think it gives the impression we think this way too, which we don't. It's not that big a deal because only industry people really read Sprudge, but the article has stoked some resentment from other...
It's not that strong. Definitely on the thin side. The challenge with bottle cold brew is that the stronger you make it, the worse the shelf life. Stumptown filters the shit out that stuff to be able to get the 2-3 month shelf life they need for national distribution. I like it anyway though, goes down really smooth, never tastes over-extracted like a lot of the really bad cold brew out there.
Moisture content is the big one. Darker roasts have less residual moisture, and grind really differently than lighter roasts. Also, off gassing as the coffee gets further off roast date can affect grind a fair amount.