the need for a coffee term equivalent to the beer industry's 'micro brew'

am i the only one who sees a desperate need for a better word/term for high end coffee products, esp. when one is talking with a person who's not familiar with coffee and the coffee industry? i strongly believe we need a term for high end coffee similar to the beer industry's 'micro brew'. one word says it all and everybody understands.

speaking of 'specialty coffee' to a layperson most likely will earn you only blank stares because 'specialty coffee' is a inside industry term and not a marketing term.

i consider this as a huge marketing problem and failure. how do you call the segment of coffee houses, like blue bottle, intelligentsia, etc. do you call them 'specialty coffee houses'?? 

when i try to explain high end coffee to people not familiar with that concept i always have to do in comparative term as in: 'you know, like blue bottle'. (often the response is: oh, like starbucks! then you have to explain the whole thing, 3rd wave and all)

so far this is a huge marketing failure on part of the specialty coffee industry, roasters, coffee houses, baristas, etc. 

look at beer consumer market: you talk to anyone about 'micro brew' and almost everybody knows what you mean!

 

what is your opinion, y'all???

any suggestions? craft coffee? micro brew coffee? artisan coffee? high end coffee (is what i use)?

 

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Artisan Coffee seems to be the most likely choice; it was roasted by an Artisan Coffee Roaster and likely (hopefully) prepared by an Artisan Barista. Seems logical to me.

I would opt for Artisan as well, but whatever you call it, deliver in the cup... THEN they will get it.

We opted for the term "Craft Roasted" in our bar and in our name.

 

The definition of "craft" is: an art, trade, or occupation requiring special skill, esp.manual skill.

 

In my mind, true manual coffee roasting is a craft... done by hand. 

 

My reasoning for deciding on this term was as follows:

  1. "Micro" just means small to me. Small doesn't equate directly to quality in my mind.
  2. "Artisan" is a good term but just seems to be bastardized already.
  3. "High End" is okay. But, is a very broad, soul-less term. Makes me thing of a car more than coffee.

I agree with you on the "Specialty Coffee" term. It means nothing to the consumer. I don't think it was ever intended for the consumer though. I believe (and, please correct me in I'm wrong) it was developed for the "Industry" not the "Consumer".

 

I'd echo John P's comment and just deliver the goods.

the next question is, how to implement and bring in common usage an agreed upon term.

and only one! just like 'micro brew' in beer...

 

 

It causes more trouble than it's worth.  We had one, "3rd wave", and the mad rush to jump on then quickly off of that wagon says a lot about the community's interest in broad-reaching descriptors.

 

Just use it in your own community, marketing, and interactions with customers and peers.  "Craft" and "Artisan" are pretty self-explanatory anyway.

 

So I guess I don't see the need for a broadly-used term or name equivalent to "microbrew".

how do you communicate  your product to someone who is not familiar with it in a few words without going into length explaining it?

how do you reach people as potential customers without a lenghty introduction?

again, the analogy beer: people's interest in micro brews grew partially because they heard that term time and again. one term for that particular segment of the beer industry, not 4,5 different ones. to most people it was pretty clear what was meant by it without going into details.

if you want to stay with your product in your 'community', that's fine. but what about approaching a much bigger potential customer base?

 

btw, 3rd wave was again an industry term only...

Here's the thing.  All of the intentions, sourcing, craftsmanship, direct-trade are totally meaningless to most consumers.  The ones that care about what they drink just want excellent coffee.  They want tasty coffee.  They may even want interesting coffee.  And they don't care how you do it until they understand.  Its possible that once they realize that what they are drinking is special they'll want to know why, but before they taste it they won't care.

 

Much as we'd like to think that our approach guarantees "excellent", it doesn't.  It certainly enables excellent coffee, but it doesn't guarantee it.  So a term to describe an approach is pretty meaningless from a consumer standpoint.  There are some pretty lousy microbrews, and some great mass-market stuff that gets looked down upon unjustifiably.

 

You will not get people in to your store by describing your approach.  Talk about your results or, better yet, make sure their friends talk about your results.  John hit the nail on the head... make a good cup of coffee.

 

On a related note, I've noticed a funny thing.  People are far more critical of your product if you over-sell it.  You can serve the identical cup of coffee to two customers, telling one it is "the best cup they've ever had" and telling the other that "you think they'll like it".  Which one do you think will be more satisfied?  Better to deliver more than you promised.  Don't over-promise.

 

Make great coffee.

Brilliant! Why not do what every great artist does, steal the idea! I like the term micro-brew and it fits what I will be doing. I might just put that on my window under my logo, "Micro-Brew Coffee House". I will, of course, back it up with most excellent coffee made one cup at a time.

but how do you distinguish your product within the market as a specific segment? it has to be of course expressed in your product itself (the product element of your marketing). but what about the communication element of your marketing strategy? how do communicate that you are neither starbucks nor convinience store with one word?

there are pretty lousy '3rd wave' coffeehouses too, btw...

 

here is why i'm asking your opinions: everytime i talk to someone who is not familiar with 'high end coffee', for example to a friend,'hey, let's meet at this coffeehouse, they serve verve coffee', the response is 'what's verve coffee?' then i have to start this lengthly explanation about what kind of coffee that is, the process behind, etc. ... often the next response is' oh, like starbucks' then i have to explain it even more in details. over time it gets a bit frustrating!

if you say to the same person 'hey, let's meet at the bar down the street, they have microbrews on tap', most likely you don't have to explain anything, right?!

 

what i see here is a great disregard of simple marketing strategies in the whole, that means industry wide, as well as on the macro scale

.

 



Brady said:

Here's the thing.  All of the intentions, sourcing, craftsmanship, direct-trade are totally meaningless to most consumers.  The ones that care about what they drink just want excellent coffee.  They want tasty coffee.  They may even want interesting coffee.  And they don't care how you do it until they understand.  Its possible that once they realize that what they are drinking is special they'll want to know why, but before they taste it they won't care.

 

Much as we'd like to think that our approach guarantees "excellent", it doesn't.  It certainly enables excellent coffee, but it doesn't guarantee it.  So a term to describe an approach is pretty meaningless from a consumer standpoint.  There are some pretty lousy microbrews, and some great mass-market stuff that gets looked down upon unjustifiably.

 

You will not get people in to your store by describing your approach.  Talk about your results or, better yet, make sure their friends talk about your results.  John hit the nail on the head... make a good cup of coffee.

 

On a related note, I've noticed a funny thing.  People are far more critical of your product if you over-sell it.  You can serve the identical cup of coffee to two customers, telling one it is "the best cup they've ever had" and telling the other that "you think they'll like it".  Which one do you think will be more satisfied?  Better to deliver more than you promised.  Don't over-promise.

 

Make great coffee.

Profound wisdom...

Brady said:

Here's the thing.  All of the intentions, sourcing, craftsmanship, direct-trade are totally meaningless to most consumers.  The ones that care about what they drink just want excellent coffee.  They want tasty coffee.  They may even want interesting coffee.  And they don't care how you do it until they understand.  Its possible that once they realize that what they are drinking is special they'll want to know why, but before they taste it they won't care.

 

Much as we'd like to think that our approach guarantees "excellent", it doesn't.  It certainly enables excellent coffee, but it doesn't guarantee it.  So a term to describe an approach is pretty meaningless from a consumer standpoint.  There are some pretty lousy microbrews, and some great mass-market stuff that gets looked down upon unjustifiably.

 

You will not get people in to your store by describing your approach.  Talk about your results or, better yet, make sure their friends talk about your results.  John hit the nail on the head... make a good cup of coffee.

 

On a related note, I've noticed a funny thing.  People are far more critical of your product if you over-sell it.  You can serve the identical cup of coffee to two customers, telling one it is "the best cup they've ever had" and telling the other that "you think they'll like it".  Which one do you think will be more satisfied?  Better to deliver more than you promised.  Don't over-promise.

 

Make great coffee.

I have a similar frustration, especially when traveling.   It would be nice to be able to search with a specific term for a specific type of coffee house using internet search or google maps.  Type the agreed upon term in and voila - all the serious coffee and espresso bars that are worth a try at least for their effort in using specialty beans, and attention to detail in roasting and brew methods.   Of course there is no guarantee you will get a good cup, but a term that is symbolic for at least the attempt to uphold certain high standards would be helpful.  

 

Maps from Man Seeking Coffee, Oliver Strand's NYC coffee map, Tamp Tamp coffee map, and many others all have very helpful suggestions based on the experience of the editors of the maps.  But sometimes there is no information for your location, and you are stuck explaining to strangers...  like, "maybe they have a LaMarzocco, or maybe they do latte art, or maybe they grind to order, or maybe they handbrew, have you ever heard of intelligentsia or stumptown?  No? Ok, then maybe the barista takes him/herself very very seriously, or maybe just tell me where they serve strong coffee that's not a Starbucks..."  

 

I agree with one of the earlier posters, that the term should not be self-congratulatory in a way that tries to sell itself the way that artisan, craft, gourmet, premium or high-end all do.  I myself would like to see an industry wide adoption of "espresso bar".  I just tried it on google maps for NYC and SF, and many of my favorites showed up (many also did not), yet not a single Starbucks.  There were many irrelevant results and the search term definitely leaves out roasters, handbrew only coffee bars, and restaurants that serve great coffee, but it is definitely a place to start.  

 

As another suggestion I have always liked the term "coffee cafe" as it implies a cafe that is really about the coffee.  The search results are too much, but when you add quotations to "coffee cafe", the results are much more narrowed down and do hone in on some of the specialty shops.  

 

Alas, I realize neither of my suggestions deal with the coffee itself, rather the place where it is served. For that perhaps a term could be borrowed from the world of wine, like garagiste coffee, or varietal coffee.  Perhaps from the slow food movement, "slow coffee"

 

But the same "earlier poster" pointed out, there would definitely be no guarantee.  High end cocktail lounges that have a turn of the century menu and restaurants that focus on local and organic ingredients are equally bereft of unifying terminology.  At the end of the day, make it tasty, and word of mouth should do the rest....  If you're stuck in an unfamiliar place start talking to strangers...

thanks benjamin! yelping for good coffee places sucks coz there is not a agreed upon term. i mean yelping in a sense to find out where those coffeehouses are. that's what i do when i travel. but you have to yelp/google several different terms and still you don't get a complete or correct list....

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