Instilling Specialty Coffee Culture

the business of coffee houses

Instilling Specialty Coffee Culture

Postby Lalo Perez-Varona on Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:46 am

Looking back through the retailing forum, there are quite a few topics that cover what I am about to ask. I thought I would bring it back considering it has been some time since those topics were posted and could probably use a refresher on experiences people have had more recently.

So the topic is instilling specialty coffee culture in a place where, for now, the highest standard is Starbucks.

I have a myriad of questions: for example turning the following into a positive situation for your shop
"Where is your milk and sugar?"
"Can I have a 20oz latte?"
"Why must I wait for my coffee?"
"Why are there several types of coffees being offered?"
Do you hold public cuppings?
How do you explain pricing?
etc., etc., etc.,

Basically, I would love to see is comments, suggestions, discussion on how people are succeeding/failing at sticking to what they want to offer. And doing so while building a customer base.

I know this is broad, but I left as such purposefully.
Lalo Perez-Varona
 
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Re: Instilling Specialty Coffee Culture

Postby joshmcneilly on Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:29 pm

I believe Noah Price, owner of Crema CoffeeHouse in Denver does a great job at facing these questions. In working for him I've learned the art of being nice over being correct, and making up for what will inevitably seem like snobbery to someone who's life doesn't revolve around coffee, with service. There are difficult answers (in customers' eyes) for all of these questions, but I find that a little dose of education only goes a long way when coupled with respect and love for where a customer is at on their coffee journey. BUT, I will say that it doesn't do any good for our industry to simply say nothing, or to move on from difficult interactions without a little persistence. I've found that if I express my genuine concern for the coffee and how good it can be when tasted a certain way, it usually (but not always) results in customers changing their orders to smaller, cleaner beverages. So, whenever I'm faced with "Where is your cream and sugar?," I usually respond, "its behind you, but I'd recommend trying it black if you haven't for a while, because this coffee is world-changing." It is passion for something before knowledge of something that changes people in their approach, and more than that its the encouragement to someone that they too can taste the things that we with trained palettes can taste that makes a difference.
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Re: Instilling Specialty Coffee Culture

Postby Lalo Perez-Varona on Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:00 am

Thanks for your response! I was hoping to see more discussion on this topic here. It was cool to see a lot of this discussed at Symposium. I agree with what you're saying about the relationship between education/service. Im starting to realize how much more service matters in that equation. James Hoffmans presentation at symposium revolved around creating different types of retail environments in coffee, and it almost seems like "preventative medicine" for all these questions. The premise was that if you give your customers enough (both nonverbal and verbal) clues about whats going on in your shop you can almost condition the way they act and interact with your employees/product. Thats pretty powerful. Also the media panel and Tracy Ging had lots to say about how to connect to our customers (sorry: friends, people, loved ones).
Lalo Perez-Varona
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:41 am
full name: Lalo Perez-Varona
company: El Tercer Lugar
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