As someone that is still very new to the specialty coffee world, I will admit that I was recently of the naive mindset that is (arguably) shared by the masses when it comes to quality coffee, and am attempting to throw in my 2 cents on the topic in the following.

I believe we can credit Sbux with educating the masses to some degree with their limited menu of specialty coffee products. Thanks to them, many Americans know what a latte is and could probably even name a few other espresso-based beverages. However, I don't believe the masses are yet at the point in their education and understanding of coffee where they discriminate much between options, and when in doubt, go with the brand name they feel they can trust from experience. My contention is that people are creatures of habit and find familiarity comforting, and this applies to buying coffee in much the same way as the concept applies to spending time with close friends. Undoubtedly, marketing and the powerful position of being the single national chain in the US have had a lot to do with getting people to create/maintain the habit of frequenting their shops.

What I'm trying to say is that education is the missing link. If most people knew of some of the nuances that are commonplace discussion items in the BX forum, I'm willing to wager that they would frown on the corporate coffee establishments because they would know that quality is not their focus as evidenced by their superautomatic machines, their having to close many shops due to the oversaturation of different locations, their stores' lack of soul and passion for delivering the best possible products, etc.

The question then becomes, how best to educate the coffee-loving masses who opt for a cup of their familiar Dunkin Donuts, Sbux, or Caribou Coffee instead of their friendly neighborhood independent shop?

Views: 117

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Wow. Some great responses. Where to begin...

On the subject of competition, I agree that competition is healthy and is an excellent motivator for businesses to do challenge their paradigms in the face of changing consumer interests and markets. In the long run, customers can look forward to ever-improving products in terms of quality and value as a kind of capitalist Darwinism runs its course.

The troubling thought is that competition may be so intense between larger businesses that it creates significant barriers to entry forged through economies of scale and scope amongst various other benefits enjoyed by businesses who have successfully been in the game for a while. This, coupled with the comforts of familiarity for customers happy with going to Sbux and other corporate coffee destinations sets the stage for a daunting uphill battle for the lone independent.

I don't mean to paint a bleak picture, as it goes without saying that there are dozens or even hundreds of successful independents here who have built loyal armies of customers here on BX. I suppose I'm really just trying to figure out what the 'secret' is to showing customers the light! ..and by light I'm referring to quality.

While the focus should always be on quality coffee, the compeition and understanding the perceptions of customers is a significant consideration when getting a feel for the lay of the land.

Reply to Discussion


Barista Exchange Partners

Barista Exchange Friends

Keep Barista Exchange Free

Are you enjoying Barista Exchange? Is it helping you promote your business and helping you network in this great industry? Donate today to keep it free to all members. Supporters can join the "Supporters Group" with a donation. Thanks!

Clicky Web Analytics

© 2023   Created by Matt Milletto.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service