Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

RN: Don't get me started on the prissy subculture that is the high-end coffeehouse. I admire excellence as much as the next person, but could we please keep the pretense to a minimum?

CP: Why do you want to talk about coffeehouses? All you ever get at one is an iced tea.

RN: So last week I'm at a Manhattan coffee bar that shall remain nameless.

CP: Why didn't you say you wanted to vent your spleen about Stumptown, the hipster-ific Oregon-based coffee vendor that now has a single outlet in New York City?

RN: It was in the lobby of my hotel. They sell delicious pastries, the room is great-looking and the guy working the espresso machine was chatty and funny. From there, it was all downhill.

CP: I recently walked several blocks out of my way on some aching gams to score a late-afternoon coffee at Stumptown.

RN: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's nirvana in a cup. Anyway, the city was so hot and muggy that it was like walking through a steaming bowl of split-pea soup. Inside the equally sweltering La Ville Stump, I ordered an iced tea.

CP: Like I said.

RN: The woman behind the counter shot me a look normally associated with poseurs as they bark "Don't you know who I am?" at defenseless maitre d's. "We don't serve iced tea," she said, but what I heard was, "You clueless loser tourist."

CP: Lemme guess: You were not wearing the requisite skinny tie and a porkpie hat.

RN: Or soul patch. It's like walking into a Details magazine fashion spread, circa 2006. I wasn't aware that asking a Stumptown barista for an iced tea was akin to requesting Emanuel Ax to play "Chopsticks." I did politely ask if she could point me in the direction of the nearest Starbucks.

CP: Uh-oh.

RN: Her response? "I'm sure there is one around here; I mean, they're everywhere, but I wouldn't know." Gee, thanks. And that, in a nutshell, is why I don't drink coffee.

CP: A journalist not drinking coffee? That's as unnatural as a high-profile antigay crusader not having a couple of rent boys on speed-dial. Anyhoo, did you find your Starbucks?

RN: Oh, please. There were seven in a six-block radius.

CP: I love getting the Starbucks coffee and breakfast sandwich in New York, but in the Twin Cities, I avoid the chain. After all, we have Dunn Bros.

RN: I did return to Stumptown to buy some beans for my beloved. They smelled heavenly. As they should, since they cost roughly the same price per pound as freshly foraged morel mushrooms. Sheesh.

CP: Mark my words. Despite your Stumptown putdown, the place will go forth and multiply. Watch for six new outlets in New York by year's end.

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com.

Become a friend of Withering Glance on