A café owner in Southend On Sea has been telling Southend News Network that he has been forced to ban customers asking for ‘black coffee’ after complaints were made from members of the public about racism at his establishment. 

Barry Starr has been in charge of Southend Beanz on the High Street since 2008, and his new menus and boards now refer to the hot beverage as ‘coffee without milk.’

He said: ‘Two officers from Southend Borough Council walked into the café last week and informed me that four complaints had been made by members of the public who objected to the term ‘black coffee’ because of racial undertones that are involved. I thought that it was a joke at first, but their facial expressions made it perfectly clear that this was no laughing matter.’

‘I jokingly asked if I should remove the sachets of brown sugar as well with the local Muslim population increasing in number, and they both agreed that it would be a ‘prudent decision.’

‘I was given some suggestions like ‘plain coffee’ and ‘raw coffee,’ but I think that I will have to stick with ‘coffee without milk’ for now. I was given seven days to comply with their recommendations to avoid a court appearance and a £5000 fine from Trading Standards.’

‘This is just a repeat of last year’s trouble when local eating disorder action groups formed a picket outside when I started serving skinny lattés – too many people seem to have a rod up their ass these days, hope I don’t get done for saying that as well.’

A spokesperson for Southend Borough Council said: ‘We have a duty to follow up every complaint made by members of the public, and on this occasion it was decided that a ‘soft touch’ approach was the most appropriate course of action without the need for legal action.’

‘All customers have the right to dine in local businesses without the threat of intimidation or offence from menu items that have been worded in an insensitive manner.’