Portland author Nancy Rommelmann, whose video series has caused trouble for her husband's coffee chain, yesterday published a lengthy diatribe against the city and former coffee-shop employees on Quillette—the flagship publication for a contrarian movement known as the Intellectual Dark Web.

In the op-ed, titled "The Internet Locusts Descend on Ristretto Roasters," Rommelmann says she and her husband are victims of "the career-destroying potential of the internet mob."

She says the local coffee company, which is owned by her husband, Din Johnson, could go out of business because of boycotts.

Less than two days after news of Rommelmann's vlog broke, she writes, "one of Din's managers suggested that he sell the company and that I offer a public apology before it was too late."

She describes meeting with Ristretto's largest wholesale client, which had cancelled its account. "He was sympathetic when Din told him Ristretto would, without this account, need to lay off key employees, and agreed to Din's suggestion that they revisit the relationship in six months," she writes. "As of this writing, it is unknown whether Ristretto can survive that long."

Rommelmann and McSweeney in a vlog titled “Monsters, Real and Manufactured.”
Rommelmann and McSweeney in a vlog titled “Monsters, Real and Manufactured.”

Last month, Ristretto Roasters became the subject of widespread scrutiny after Rommelmann and New York-based freelancer Leah McSweeney started a video blog discrediting the accounts of some prominent sexual assault survivors.

Upon learning about the video series, current and former employees signed an open letter stating they did not endorse the opinions Rommelmann, a local author who has written for WW, espoused.

Two local grocery chains, New Seasons and Market of Choice, pulled Ristretto coffee from shelves last month, The Oregonian reported.

Earlier this month, Ristretto's Northwest Nicolai Street location also closed, the Portland Mercury reported. In a letter to employees, Johnson wrote that the closure was a means to "concentrate on our higher volume cafes in a manner that's most effective for our business and our staff."

Rommelmann's op-ed offers a more complete explanation for the shop's shuttering.

"Ten days after Camila's [the former employee who initiated the open letter denouncing the vlog] opening salvo, Ristretto lost its biggest wholesale account," Rommelmann writes, "with which it had enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship. This resulted in Din having to layoff one of his best employees. There will be more layoffs as other accounts peel away."

Quillette, and the Intellectual Dark Web, can best be described as a cohort of journalists and academics who crusade against "knee-jerk" left wing ideologies. They argue that free speech is under attack and identity politics are tearing the nation apart.

In her Quillette article, Rommelmann compares her and Johnson's plight to that of Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein, the Evergreen State College professors who resigned from their positions after their classification of a day of absence for white students as "an act of oppression" sparked campus-wide protests.

"There is purpose here; there is drive; there is, maybe, a sense of triumph at a business being eradicated," Rommelmann writes. "The digital activists swarm like locusts, descending and leaving the earth shorn before moving on to the next field."

She also describes attempting to pacify a "wary barista" who recognized her at a Ristretto shop by giving the employee a copy of her new book, To the Bridge, which tells the story of a Portland mother who dropped her children off the Sellwood Bridge in 2009.

"[The barista] looked as though she was about to cry. I gave her a copy of my new book," Rommelmann writes, "The whole encounter felt very weird but I thought it went okay. I was wrong. 'Don't go into any of the cafes,' my husband said. 'It didn't go so well last time.'"

The op-ed comes less than a month after Rommelmann logged on to the Ristretto Roasters Twitter account to snap at critics. The tweets have since been deleted.

Rommelmann's full op-ed can be read here.