There are a lot of things worse than bad coffee, of course. That nearly goes without saying, but I feel like putting it out in front regardless, lest I venture in to #firstworldproblems territory. So yes, bad coffee is not so bad as, say, child soldiers in Africa. It is not even so bad as my $700 car troubles. But it is bad enough to note, and so I will.
My story: I bought a cup of drip, and it was cold.
Not my most artistically worded tale, nor my most dramatic telling, but I think it gets the facts right. It also conveys the simplicity of both the problem and the solution.
Cold coffee is bad. In order to avoid this mistake, brew appropriate amounts at appropriate intervals. Don't let large pots sit for hours.
Simple. And yet, despite that, this is not the first time I've had this problem. Nor is it the first time I've had this problem at this specific place. Though they have fabulous beans, I'm rarely willing to pay for their product, and this is why. Cold coffee, not matter how well treated at every preceding step, tastes like shit.
Now you know this already, I'm sure. You're a good barista, or a conscious consumer. You know that hot coffee is best consumed hot, because you're not stupid. So this is not about this specific instance, or how to avoid it. This is about having shitty coffee, whatever the reason, and learning from that experience, learning from the mistakes of others.
Don't leave your coffee out all day. Don't pull ten second shots. Don't scald your milk. Don't leave grounds and milk splattered everywhere.
All of this is obvious, and yet I keep seeing it. So, it stands to reason that you keep seeing it too. Internalize all of the idiocy, realize why you won't spend money at those places, and then be better than them in every way. Set a higher standard, and then live up to it. Be the kind of shop you'd happily spend your money at, so you're not screwing people out of theirs. Be fair to your customers, the farmers, and the roasters. Show respect to everyone that worked to provide you with the equipment you need to succeed by succeeding.
Simple? Yes. So let's do it.