What's the worst thing to offer customers in a coffeehouse?

I am hoping to start a coffeehouse by the end of summer. I am currently deciding on what services, menu items, seating, etc, to offer my customers. I am also considering what equipment to use.

What's the one thing you would never do? If you have more than one, that would still be helpful.

Views: 187

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Paul Yates said:
...If our town was full of sophisticated urbanites I could afford to be exclusive about what I serve, but with the smalltown, often rural, customers I anticipate, I should cater to their wishes to some degree.

So, there will be traditional coffeehouse fare, as well as light lunch foods. I may also offer perhaps 4 flavors of hand-dipped ice cream. I plan to offer cold drinks, including Southern Iced Tea, and those blended coffee drinks. I honestly admire the purist coffee shops, and I want to provide the best espresso product I can. So I will pursue excellence and customer service, and I will keep my food offerings as simple and trouble-free as possible. I am willing to learn how to make espresso and its derivatives from those who understand it best, and I will try to avoid following the pattern set by *$ and others of their ilk.

Paul, your market sounds very much like ours. Your reasoning sounds very much like ours a year ago.

We currently serve flavored coffee that I strongly dislike and a 16 oz cappuccino that I don't believe in. Tailor your offerings, by all means. But don't open serving anything that you do not believe in. Once you begin to offer something, it is very hard to make the business decision to eliminate it.

Good luck. Your situation sounds ideal - a community that needs you is a great thing.
By the way, be weary of trying to put your foot down on customer's that want vanilla lattes. Offer flavors, but keep it simple : vanilla, caramel, chocolate, making sure that whatever flavors you have are the best that you can provide.
Sometimes not offering things, especially in this economy, can close the door on people that want to support you, but want some whipped cream on their hot chocolate. Just make sure it's the best darn hot chocolate they've ever had.
If you do offer soup and sammies, keep 'em simple, and the BEST simple soup and sammies they've had in a long time. Only offer like ah soup, and like two or three sammie options.
The worst thing a new business, esp a coffee shop could have, is a too militant view on coffee and trying to force every one to drink espresso's and traditional caps. Just don't overwhelm yourself with products.
From the sounds of it, you totally know what you are going to do.
Just make sure that it's as good as you can, make the best espresso you can, and you should be fine!
Super good luck!!!!!!
and get good sleep. that is important.
Brandon Malcolm said:
... (also @ John P... i worked in a shop that served soup and oatmeal and they both sold out every single day....something to consider)

Brandon,


Just because it sells out doesn't mean it's a good decision. Decisions based on sales/profits should come a very distant second to quality and type of offerings. Positioning and identity are important.

....

Paul,

great comments from Brady. Most importanty, don't make a decision to carry an item because customers ask for it. If it doesn't fit into your vision you shouldn't carry it. Making decisions based on short term profit at the loss of a core identity can be a real slippery slope. It DOES sound like your area is in great need of someone like you. Continue asking questions like these to yourself all the time and you will do well.
Know your audience and cater to them in a way the informs and educates about specialty coffee.

I have a customer that orders a 16oz Cap with no foam filled 3/4 full then topped with breve foam. I smile and serve her her drink, not the one I think she should be drinking. She's been coming in for almost a year every day. I found out last week that she produces a health food show on Am radio. She has driven so much business to us and if I had insulted her and refused to serve her the drink she ordered she would have never walked back through our doors.
Jason,

educating would include educating the customer on what a cappuccino is. Customers WANT to be educated, it makes them feel included and informed. Make their drink, call it the "Hildegard" or whatever her name is, but to let if be ordered as a capp when it's clearly something else seems patronizing to me. Don't underestimate the customers' ability to be educated about your espresso drinks. Educate, inform, and serve great drinks.

Jason Shipley said:
Know your audience and cater to them in a way the informs and educates about specialty coffee.

I have a customer that orders a 16oz Cap with no foam filled 3/4 full then topped with breve foam. I smile and serve her her drink, not the one I think she should be drinking. She's been coming in for almost a year every day. I found out last week that she produces a health food show on Am radio. She has driven so much business to us and if I had insulted her and refused to serve her the drink she ordered she would have never walked back through our doors.
Educating the customer is a most definitely rewarding experience to watch. We had a lady come in several months back and order a "caramel macchiato." I then told her that we are a more traditional espresso cafe and we served traditional macchiatos. She was fascinated and even called the demitasse "cute and petite" and proceeded to order one "just for kicks." She now orders double macchiatos on a regular basis.

One guy came in a while back and says, "That's really neat that you guys grind your own beans," while pointing at our roaster... =/ He is now an active part of the home roaster sub-culture that is developing in Kansas City, and is roasting out of his garage on his 10k Ambex.

Stuff like this happens when we start opening our mouths and telling customers about what we the coffee community does (politely). Does the brewmaster smile when the customer calls his pale ale a lager? Or the vintner when someone calls his pinot noir a merlot? DISCLAIMER: I know nothing of beer or wine other than I like them both.
The consensus I am receiving seems to be: remain true to myself and my vision for this venture, but listen to my customer base and be willing to consider items that may not have otherwise registered on my radar screen. Good advice. Yes, I do have a fairly clear idea of what I want to offer, but that is likely due to watching the opportunity arrive over 4 years. I have had time to think about it some.

However, because my experience with coffeehouses is mostly *$ and others, I have realized that an independent shop has a great advantage over the franchise shop. In the distant large city to the north, there are only a few *$, and even fewer independent shops. So, for me to gain a better insight into how to create a successful coffeehouse, I still find myself coming back to my original question: What should I never offer/do/forget, etc, in my coffeehouse?
John,
I've just made her a proper cap and given her both drinks, she likes what she likes. Good customer service comes from listening to your customers. I will educate anyone who will listen but the bills get paid by giving our customers an experience they want to repeat every day. Being talked down to is not that experience.


John P said:
Jason,

educating would include educating the customer on what a cappuccino is. Customers WANT to be educated, it makes them feel included and informed. Make their drink, call it the "Hildegard" or whatever her name is, but to let if be ordered as a capp when it's clearly something else seems patronizing to me. Don't underestimate the customers' ability to be educated about your espresso drinks. Educate, inform, and serve great drinks.

Jason Shipley said:
Know your audience and cater to them in a way the informs and educates about specialty coffee.

I have a customer that orders a 16oz Cap with no foam filled 3/4 full then topped with breve foam. I smile and serve her her drink, not the one I think she should be drinking. She's been coming in for almost a year every day. I found out last week that she produces a health food show on Am radio. She has driven so much business to us and if I had insulted her and refused to serve her the drink she ordered she would have never walked back through our doors.
Offtopic:
To avoid turning this into a "purist vs. customer satisfaction" thread like so many of them seem to end up like, I would say this: Neither one of you are right, neither one is wrong you just have different views and that's fine. Personally I think it's stupid to hand someone a 6 oz cup when they ask for a large cappuccino. I'll bet that customer thinks it stupid too. Doesn't mean I won't try to steer them towards a smaller option, or give them both just for educational purposes. It doesn't mean I won't offer up an Americano when someone asks for a drip sometime when they have an extra second just to be able to chat 'spro with them a little. It doesn't mean that I don't care about coffee. It really depends on your market, and until you live in one where you watch traditional shop after traditional shop die out you can't say that someone is simply "doing something wrong." That said, if you can survive on your largest drink being a 12oz latte that is fantastic and I applaud you for being an espresso purist. I'm a purist too, but my customers aren't and I wouldn't have a chance to educate anyone if I didn't serve up some drinks with syrup in them or a 12oz "American" cappuccino. But you know, in an area where more people think a cappuccino comes from a gas station than know what the word crema is, it's kind of hard to picture just serving really traditional drinks. Want to talk purist? Do you offer cream and sugar? What constitutes flavored coffee? A packet of Splenda in a coffee isn't offering flavored coffee but putting a shot of vanilla in coffee is? Not saying anyone is arguing this, I'm saying you can't draw a line where your shop ends and call that the line. Whatever... this stupid little debate will go on forever (not this specific one, the general purist vs. give the customer what they want one) and I'm not actually trying to offend anyone or take either side so I'll just shut my mouth now (since it's already probably too late)...

Paul, sorry to hijack your thread for a second and hopefully we will be able to keep it on topic from here on out (hint, hint). I would actually suggest the opposite of John P. Offer something to eat, but make it your own. Research recipes for the pastries you will be selling. You said you're offering soups? Make them yourself. Sandwiches? Keep them simple, but super unique. Instead of lettuce use asparagus or eggplant or ... I dunno, make it different. How many shops offer a panini with "turkey, lettuce and tomato on our fresh, multi-grain house bread?" Tons... Do it different, use feta, cut the turkey yourself, bake the bread yourself, I don't know exactly what sounds good to you, but you get what I am saying. If you can afford it, bring someone in to help you with your menu. Anyone can offer up the same Sysco crap that you can get at any other shop and prepare it slightly different, it takes real dedication (that will come through to your customers) to do it yourself and do it right.

In the morning, offer something more than pastries. Definitely offer fruit. We have offered a variety of different things in the morning from eggs to breakfast burritos to oatmeal and they always sell like crazy. Keep certain favorites the same and offer them every day, but then offer a rotating item in the same category. For example, have your house soup be... tomato... make it wonderfully so that it's everyone's fall back in case they don't want the...... chicken chowder(?) that you are offering up that day. Always have one set item (at least) and one that rotates (at least).

Do not offer espresso to go. Don't offer it iced. In fact, don't offer a lot of items iced. Like brewed coffee, do Americanos instead (or go the cold brew route which I have always thought tasted horrible, but some people love). It's fine to offer a bunch of iced drinks, but that doesn't mean that you have to offer all the drinks iced. Make your own lemonade and make it really, really great. Do not go the Country-time route, and don't offer Lipton as your sweet tea. Make it yourself and it's always yours. In addition to sweet tea, get in touch with your tea broker and fine out what they think the best teas are for icing that they offer.

Most importantly: Give the customer something in print explaining what you are about. If you are the first in the area then you have the opportunity to be the one that everybody falls short of in comparison, don't forget that, and don't let your customers either. Are you offering Direct Trade coffees? (This would be on my list of "musts") Explain to your customers (both verbally and with some sort of printout they can take with them) what the difference is and how important it is. Make sure your customers know they directly impact the coffee market. Sometimes it won't click. If they buy crappy can coffee for home, they are saying it's okay to give farmers a poor wage. You really have to drive home that they impact lives in other countries just by purchasing good coffee, your coffee. Explain to them what lengths you go to in order to provide them with fairly traded coffee. Explain how important it is to keep the coffee fresh and make it obvious that you only keep your beans for a maximum amount of days. MAKE THEM CURIOUS. After they are curious, never stop educating and impressing them. I would say education is the most important part...

This is longer than I intended, but I hope it helps...

-bry
dont buy a blender......unless you want to hear the word Frappuccino a million times.... reach out to the community, offer coupons with like-minded businesses in the area. Avoid commercial coffee. Stay true, and keep it real (whatever that means). Offer a open mic night once a week...listen to your customers...
If I could sell a million Frappachino's I would do it lets do the math say $4.50 each that's hmmm 4.5 million dollars, lets say after costs that's only a net of what maybe 2.8 mill. But you guys are right maybe I'm wrong to smile happily at my customer and tell them that I'll make them a granita with freshly pulled shots of espresso and Ghiradelli chocolate sauce, topped with freshly made whip cream. Figure out how to give your customers what they ask for with the best quality you can make it with.

I'm a business man , not a Coffee Martyr.

Samir Ali said:
dont buy a blender......unless you want to hear the word Frappuccino a million times.... reach out to the community, offer coupons with like-minded businesses in the area. Avoid commercial coffee. Stay true, and keep it real (whatever that means). Offer a open mic night once a week...listen to your customers...
"I'm a business man , not a Coffee Martyr."
LOL, Snap!
Jason Shipley said:
If I could sell a million Frappachino's I would do it lets do the math say $4.50 each that's hmmm 4.5 million dollars, lets say after costs that's only a net of what maybe 2.8 mill. But you guys are right maybe I'm wrong to smile happily at my customer and tell them that I'll make them a granita with freshly pulled shots of espresso and Ghiradelli chocolate sauce, topped with freshly made whip cream. Figure out how to give your customers what they ask for with the best quality you can make it with.

I'm a business man , not a Coffee Martyr.

Samir Ali said:
dont buy a blender......unless you want to hear the word Frappuccino a million times.... reach out to the community, offer coupons with like-minded businesses in the area. Avoid commercial coffee. Stay true, and keep it real (whatever that means). Offer a open mic night once a week...listen to your customers...

Reply to Discussion

RSS

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

© 2021   Created by Matt Milletto.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service