Aberfeldie Cafe Threatens Legal Action Over Loss of Five-Star Review

Written for Broadsheet

A cafe in Melbourne’s north-west has become a magnet for teenage trolls after a cafe with a similar name was mentioned in Wednesday’s VCE English exam.

Close to 40,000 Victorian students sat the exam, which featured a fictional review of the imaginary “Calmer Coffee” in “Benmore Village”. The review referenced a tablet-wielding waiter with a man bun, bland coffee, bad decor and terrible service.

On completion of the exam, many teens took to Facebook and Google, leaving critical reviews of Aberfeldie’s Calmer Cafe, resulting in a drop of its rating from five stars to three. At the time of publishing, the small neighbourhood eatery has more than 350 reviews.

One negative review, by John Da Reviewer, reads: “I entered this cafe with the hopes of having a nice welcoming warm coffee and instead walked away with a cold heart.”

Another, by Jonathan Dempsey, awards one star: “Abhorrent service by a tablet-wielding man with a man bun. My senses were without doubt attacked and I felt assaulted by coffee beans the moment I walked in.”

Guardian Australia reports the negative reviews have already had a detrimental effect. “This is my livelihood, this is my business, I’ve spent 10 years of my life building it up,” owner Tara Conron told the Guardian. “All the VCAA [Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority] had to do was Google us.”

In another coincidence, the fictional writer of the review in the exam was named Jonty Jenkins – who has the same last name as the real cafe manager, Elise Jenkins.

Conron told the Age she would be taking legal action against VCAA over the “uncanny” similarities.

According to an official statement released by the VCAA, “The VCAA had checked and confirmed that there was no registered business with the name ‘Calmer Coffee’ prior to [Wednesday’s] examination.

“The VCAA has apologised for the inadvertent similarity in business names that led to the surge of social media and web posts, and has offered its assistance to have these posts removed as soon as possible.”

Since the controversy began, Calmer Cafe has been flooded with positive reviews from familiar locals and kind-hearted strangers trying to rectify the poor ratings. Calmer Cafe is also offering free small coffees to year 12 students who mention that exam question, with student ID.

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