I would love to hear what you think the repercussions of the economy will mean to the coffee industry.

I have my inclinations and will share when the discussion begins to roll.

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I have seen a small depression in sales followed by an increase. I do think people adapt. I believe many feel as I do that this coffee thing is something special they enjoy having in their lives. A special treat, a coffee shop being a wonderful enviroment to relax in or reinforce friendships and community in. Something we all need more of.
To explain my busines model my business is a gourmet food and wine shop with small espresso bar. I'm as passionate about my espresso as I am the rest of my products. If I say my products are gourmet my coffee better follow suit. My customers rely on me to have top quality products.

I am in a very small town, Mexico Beach, Florida (just east of Panama City). We rely heavily on tourism and I have a strong local following. This year we started seeing a down turn from last years business starting in July which is usually the hieght of our tourist season. Before this year I have had a 30% increase in revenue each year. Other businesses in the area have reported the same trend.

I beleive things will pick up after the election. Even if the candidate that I feel has the best economic solution doesn't win, at least everyone will know what direction the country is heading. The uncertanties will be at least cut in half (since you never know how well the elected one will follow their campaign promises). But at least you know which devil you are dealing with and I feel we will get back to normal. I am expecting a good Holiday season and a good 2009.

That's my take - I hope I'm right.

Dolores Lowery
I personally think that the economic downturn will affect physical stores and large chains the most. I definitely think that bean sales will increase as will interest in brewing and preparing your own coffee at home. It will be great for online stores as people will turn to the internet to satisfy their craving. But after all, an addiction is an addiction, and drive thrus and prepared coffees are very enticing.
My father always said go into food or the coffee business - they will always do good. There seems to be more people then ever at my cafe of late. Not so good when you want to sit and have a nice chat and a coffee. - Steve
During times of economic hardships it is even more important to review our staff's performance as top baristas. We can not allow our business to be comfortable with the status quo. We can establish an on going training program that refreshes the mind, and adds enthusiasm. Having good educated baristas will have our competition reacting to us, rather than the other way around.

In addition to education, a sound barista protocol, regarding customer service, will bring customers back time after time. This does not come natural to all individuals, it must be taught.
**Greet customers with eye contact and a smile.
**What ever we say, say it with sincereity.
**The customer is always right in regard to arguable issues, even when they are wrong. If we win, we lose.
**We must be twice as good listeners, as talkers.
**Make an effort to know all the regualr customers, as well as their beverages.
**Show some personality, it is a likeable quality.
**Learn to appreciate coffee by studying it. Learn to drink it and enjoy it, unless prohibited by a medical condition.
**We should educate all of our barista staff on brewing and extraction methods. Get help from the roasters.
I agree with all you say. Especially with the training of the help. There is a fine line between agreeable and "chirpy." Especially, there seems to be a trend to regard the "tips jar" as a requirement for the customer to reward a person for doing the job they are trained for. Do the Baristas give a tip to the PBTC at Mac and Don's?? Something to keep in mind. I know , as a retired person in blue denim, that a tip equivalent to the cost of the drink is not going to happen. Also I stopped going to a fairly good shop because the snobby PBTC dis'd me in their speech. Don't talk down to a person. They may know more about the product than the PBTC. Especially now with folks having set ups at home that rival many of the shops. What is wrong with "May I help you?
Therei s a fine line between agreeable and "chirpy."
"There seems to be a trend to regard the "tips jar" as a requirement
for the customer toreward a person for doing the job they are trained for"

Penny,

You are spot on with both conclusions. I like some interesting conversation, but unless I know the barista personally, I can manage with out any of the recent drama that they have experienced. I enjoy good personality, a smile and educate me if you have something new during the minute or less it takes for my espresso beverage.

I tip with dollars for an unusually pleasant experience! I have change and a smile for a poor exchange.
Your attitude affects your customers attitude. If you are happy to be there, they will be happy to come there. People are not spending alot less, but they are spending less.

They like a "deal" so give them one. Half of the time, that gets them in door (if they weren't rushing for it already) and then they can decide if they want the deal or something else.

Another tip: Get one of those sandwich boards that sit on the sidewalk or some kind of really visual sign for your window to put the daily special on. It increases traffic.
I also got an espresso flag. When it flies, they flock. If business is slow, I forgot to put the flag out.
Don't ask me why.... guess its an attention grabber.

Best regards! Hang in there. Remember this: Since it could be worse, its really better!
Give away free things. Especially merch with your cafe's name and logo on it. Building a good rapport with customers right away will help immensely. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. No one is unwilling to pay whatever you'll charge for your latte or coffee because we're all basically charging the same thing. BUT! You've got to make friends- not just regulars.
Zech said:
Give away free things. Especially merch with your cafe's name and logo on it. Building a good rapport with customers right away will help immensely. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. No one is unwilling to pay whatever you'll charge for your latte or coffee because we're all basically charging the same thing. BUT! You've got to make friends- not just regulars.

I would say that this is good advice in some, but not all, cases. For instance, shops with a high turnover rate (if it's near a college campus, staffed by highschool students, or any other manner of folks who don't stay for more than a year). Outstanding customer service beats "friend" every day of the year, in the world of retail. People become regulars because you've made friends, or because you are doing something right.

The question then becomes whether or not the value is actually inherent, or if it was at equilibrium in better times, but the context has shifted and the value has remained the same, and at some point, the two may eventually cease to overlap. That's when you've got problems. (philosophically speaking)
Mellisa said:
...I also got an espresso flag. When it flies, they flock. If business is slow, I forgot to put the flag out.
Don't ask me why.... guess its an attention grabber.

An espresso flag? Is that like a Jolly Roger? I'd love to see this, do you have a picture?
Brady said:
Mellisa said:
...I also got an espresso flag. When it flies, they flock. If business is slow, I forgot to put the flag out.
Don't ask me why.... guess its an attention grabber.

An espresso flag? Is that like a Jolly Roger? I'd love to see this, do you have a picture?
Me too!

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