Personally, I believe the act of roasting coffee with flavored oils is disgusting. However, due to high demand, it has been insisted on me by my customers to keep a steady supply of this coffee.

Does anyone know a better way to serve this product other than through the normal drip process (please don't say French press)???

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Dan, I wouldn't want to throw you overboard, you're far too valuable to lose! ;-) I am speaking on behalf of what importance flavored coffee has in my neck of the woods. It ain't pretty, it's just reality. And the point about Starbucks, remember, their best asset is not their drinks or barista abilities, it's location, location, location. I, too, prefer to flavor the coffee with a syrup afterwards, but again, change is much slower in the South.

At the end of the day, we want to get people turned on to coffee and espresso. However they choose. We can then take that choice of how and educate them based on their choices. Every barista should understand his role in the specialty coffee industry. Every barista is a coffee teacher. But we have to get them to come to school first, BEFORE they can be taught. And again, I don't like flavored coffee anymore than anyone else, heck, I can barely stand the smell of the stuff, but again, I have seen how to use that entry to propel coffee education further in our stores, although it does take some work.

One last point, your question of how did they get that way, they got that way by having not only the balls to do it, which it certainly takes, ala Ken Nye, but a location where there is enough business to pull from, and those cities are certainly ones with high coffee consumption numbers, leading to more people open to learning that way. All good thoughts, though, and I respect all sides to this issue. Again, I just speak for this area. There are lots of areas around this great land of ours.
Dan Streetman said:

wow did this thread get heated up....

let me clarify my original post before some people I know try to throw me over-board.

I suggested the simply flavor by monin for two reasons...

first the original question is what is a better way to serve flavored coffee
second, the people at Monin, especially Don Harrell are awesome!

that said I too usually do not encourage flavoring coffee.

Jason your point is well taken about the big names beingin cities that are more coffee educated... but the question is... how did they get that way. Sorry I especially don't see this point on flavored coffee, as even Starbucks does not nor have they ever served flavored coffee, and they have been able to be rather successful everywhere in the country.
You ain't seen nothing yet...

Boy, I should have stayed out of this thread. How on earth did I end up defending FLAVORED COFFEE?!

I resent the notion that we are "copping out" by not discontinuing a product that was 5-10% of our sales this morning. I'm not ashamed to say that we need that 5-10% of sales. Plus I like those customers - Lori, Dee, Stephanie, Tina... they've been some of our most loyal daily customers from the beginning, and they love their flavored coffee. So I just one day tell them that we're not serving it anymore because it offends my sense of purity? Because I personally can't stand it? Because the guys on the discussion board don't think its cool? Because they really should be drinking something else (which I've had them try and they still choose not to have)?

Please do me a big favor. Lets keep the discussion to the product and maybe not insult the values or standards of those of us that happen to serve it, ok?

BTW, I was looking for stories of real experience from shops that had been serving flavoreds and then stopped. I don't think Intelly, Gimme, etc ever did. My expectation is that if we stopped we'd have maybe half of our existing flavoreds customers switch begrudgingly and the other half leave us for the shop up the road that still served it. I'd like to know if that is accurate. I also don't believe we'd have any positive impact from this change - I doubt any of our non-flavoreds customers would even notice that we made a change. Is the idea that some of our potential customers are staying away because "that place serves FLAVORED COFFEE, of all things"? I think the concept that any of our current or potential customers thinks any less of us because we serve flavords is nonsense.

The "natural flavorings" link was cool. Something to play with. Thanks.

Still waiting for clarification on the artery-clogging thing, by the way.
Good thoughts Brady. Agreed on all levels.
Call it what you want, but if you carry a product simply for the sale, then you've established nothing different than any of the Starbucks copycats, or the majority of indies with low to average quality coffee. Get people in the door by doing something everyone else isn't, it's a much easier sell. Otherwise, all you have established is that your name and location is different than that across the street.

We are in a non coffee-centric market here in Salt Lake City, but the notion that you can't meet or exceed the offerings of Stumptown, Intelly, Barefoot, Gimme!, etc. is just plain wrong.

Do we have to work harder than some places to get the word out? Of course. Is it difficult to educate a mass that is largely uneducated? Yes. But there's joy in establishing that trust, that passion of something exceptional from the get go.

To quote Robert Frost,
"...Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference"
Shamefully, we started with three flavored coffees when we opened in late 2004 as we figured this being Pittsburgh (which at the time was as backwoods for coffee as any place) it was necessary.

By summer 2005 the flavored coffees were gone. The whole store smelled like Snickerdoodle. We couldn't do a tasting of any coffee without the smell interfering and we knew that was affecting the cafe ambience. Every barista was in agreement.

For a couple of weeks the flavored coffee customers said we were making a mistake and we should continue to carry them. Not sure how many of them left to go up the street where they use french roast for espresso, but I imagine some did.

Anyway, after initial slow growth we saw double digit sales increases every month right up to the current downturn.

Once or twice a month we get someone new who asks if we have flavored coffees. We offer to put Monin in the cup. Usually they agree to that. If they like it, fine. If not, that's fine too.

In other words, if you don't feel comfortable carrying these coffees, just stop offering them. If serving good coffee is what you're want to be doing all day, every day for a lot of years, you owe it to yourself to feel good about what you're doing. Conversely, if you're perfectly fine serving the stuff, go right ahead.

As an aside, the Bunn grinder we used for the flavored coffees is still in a closet. We've cleaned that sucker a few times and you can still smell the flavored junk so we keep it out of service. If you're selling flavored coffees, make an offer!
Fair enough, John.

Thanks for the post, Rich. I knew there had to be someone out there that had been through it and could speak to what happens the next day, week, year.

Please forgive my sensitivity to the matter... I got snickered at by a 20 year old former Starbucks employee on Saturday because we were dripping, among other things, a coffee called Snickerdoodle.

It still burns... but I got to see Lori and Dee and Tina today, and they were happy that I was brewing Cinnamon f$#@ing Hazelnut. But I also pressed a Rwanda, sold out of Organic Sumatra Aceh Gayo Mtn, and actually had to wash my trad capp cups before noon because they had all been used... so that made it a little better. Maybe we're just a neighborhood place after all... but I think we're a damn good neighborhood place.

(You know, deep down, I suspect John may just be trying to pre-sell more Hario Beam Heaters :). )

just trying to promote great (siphon) coffee!

Sorry... But anything with the word "doodle" shouldn't be served in a cup. It's no wonder people are snickering. :)

Brady said:
Fair enough, John.
(You know, deep down, I suspect John may just be trying to pre-sell more Hario Beam Heaters :). )
I think one factor that may be observed in this whole debate is how long you have been serving flavored coffee, and what transition may look like for each store. It's obvious that Rich and the fine folks there only started with a few, so they didn't have as long road to hoe as someone like us who had like 20. And another thing for us is, we were the first coffee in Charlotte, 20 years ago, and so some of these people having been drinking Snickerdoodle for at least that long. Obviously with that kind of history, it's a different story.
Like Brady said, around here we take the bad with the good, and at the end of the day try to capitalize on both as a way to educate our customers as to what good, quality coffee is.
Brady said:
Fair enough, John.

Thanks for the post, Rich. I knew there had to be someone out there that had been through it and could speak to what happens the next day, week, year.

I was trying to edit that post to mention a few other things but I guess I ran out of time.

It sounds like you care and are interested in serving good coffees. I don't know how long you've been around, but John's point of establishing trust is a good one.

We spent a significant amount of time, money and energy on getting our bonafides - educating the local press so we were the "go-to" source for coffee info, competing in barista comps, offering free cuppings when everyone else was charging, creating our own taste profile cards for our bean displays based on our own tastings (ditching the flowery stuff from the roaster), using not only Intelligentsia, but bringing in guest coffees and espressos so people could be exposed to more than just the marketing.

But most importantly, investing in people who not only had barista skills but were also capable of killing customers with kindness and service.

All of that stuff needed to be in place before we were really taken seriously and had the leverage to say "no" to some things and persuasively consult on others without pissing customers off. It wasn't just dumping the flavors.

Chances are pretty good that if Lori, Dee, Stephanie and Tina really like your shop and trust you, they'll figure out a way to spend money with you even if you stop serving Cinnamon f$#@ing Hazelnut. Maybe it's with a syrup, maybe it's with a homegrown flavor you can do by the cup. Or maybe, just maybe, it's an insanely sweet Villalobos varietal.

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