Anyone out there working for a shop or own one that uses Whole Milk Only and Soy as their milk options?  We are getting ready to start a shop and want to only offer these two as our milk choices but don't know what kind of draw back we will get from people who want a "skinny" option.  Just FYI, our largest latte size will be 12oz. so it's not a whole lot of milk to begin with.  

 

Any thoughts on this?

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I'm all for having a better product a more decadent experience in a smaller portion size. It's a decision I make for myself all the time. I'm just not sure that the general population will embrace that in the same way. It's hard to run a cafe profitably while alienating the skinny sugar free vanilla latte crowd.
If your largest size is 12oz then I don't see the lack of milk options as too limiting. By having smaller portions you are already portraying a sense of tradition in coffee, which is cool. Whatever the idea you are going for with your coffeehouse is part of your concept. Try it out and make a change if it becomes a hassle or problematic. Just don't let your employees be rude when explaining you don't have 1% milk to your customers, I could see that as being problematic. Bonne chance!

I know in our area, we cannot survive by eliminating 2% and nonfat, even though we'd love to. It depends on your competition and your customer base.

 

If you're in an area surrounded by places that offer different milk choices, I would assume you would have to offer the same things in order to keep them from simply walking off and going to the next shop.

 

But if you feel like you have a customer base in your area that would actually recognize and appreciate your traditional approach, by all means HAVE AT IT :)

Good luck!

Personally, I think it's no big deal to have some non-fat for people that really want it, but to have whole milk be the default if they don't specify.  If your milk is good you can still get a rosetta out of NF.  But I would still support your decision to do whole milk only.  The question is always, how do you communicate with your customers that your decision is valid.  "I'm trying to cut down my fat intake, why don't you offer fat free milk?"  What do you say to me?

 

I think the non-dairy option is something you should think about more.  If you're cutting out certain options to raise the quality of your drinks, why serve soy?  Most people agree it's simply not a good pairing with coffee.  I would go a step further and say it's downright gross.

 

Brady posted this in another thread about non-dairy options:  http://sprudge.com/wendelboes-wendelbog-soy-no-mi-gusta.html/commen...  and it really opened my eyes (thanks Brady!)  I always thought it was nasty but never thought about eliminating it since it's almost just assumed that a cafe will have it.  I think a shop should still have something to offer the lactose intolerant and the vegans, so our solution is to use refrigerated coconut milk and Blue Diamond almond milk.  We're going to experiment with a mixture of the two that would yield a good taste and nice texture, but if that doesn't work we'll do one or the other.  Also considering hemp milk.  All of which seem like better options than soy.  Yechh.  

Sorry to double post, but I thought about it some more and wanted to add:  A lot of people get a milk/espresso drink almost every day, maybe every other day, and you want that person to be in the habit of going to your shop to get it.  If that person is health conscious, they might not feel good about getting a whole milk latte every day (despite the fact that 12 ounces of whole milk isn't really that bad for you), so they might switch it up to another shop JUST because you don't have a less-fat option.  So you're in danger of losing more solid customers that way.  Doing something outside of the status quo, you walk a thin line between innovative/unique and a business that just makes bad business decisions.  The difference between the two seems to be just your reasoning and how you communicate that to customers.

christopher myers said:

Personally, I think it's no big deal to have some non-fat for people that really want it, but to have whole milk be the default if they don't specify.  If your milk is good you can still get a rosetta out of NF.  But I would still support your decision to do whole milk only.  The question is always, how do you communicate with your customers that your decision is valid.  "I'm trying to cut down my fat intake, why don't you offer fat free milk?"  What do you say to me?

 

I think the non-dairy option is something you should think about more.  If you're cutting out certain options to raise the quality of your drinks, why serve soy?  Most people agree it's simply not a good pairing with coffee.  I would go a step further and say it's downright gross.

 

Brady posted this in another thread about non-dairy options:  http://sprudge.com/wendelboes-wendelbog-soy-no-mi-gusta.html/commen...  and it really opened my eyes (thanks Brady!)  I always thought it was nasty but never thought about eliminating it since it's almost just assumed that a cafe will have it.  I think a shop should still have something to offer the lactose intolerant and the vegans, so our solution is to use refrigerated coconut milk and Blue Diamond almond milk.  We're going to experiment with a mixture of the two that would yield a good taste and nice texture, but if that doesn't work we'll do one or the other.  Also considering hemp milk.  All of which seem like better options than soy.  Yechh.  

Thanks for the helpful advice guys.  Ty and I work together.  Just to clarify, we are offering as flavor options: Chocolate (sauce made in-shop), Vanilla (made in-shop), honey (local hives), and a raw sugar simple syrup.  We'll check into alternative milk options (I hate soy too). 

 

Carry on.

Granted, a shop can't be everything for everybody and I understand about drawing a line in your offerings, but having skim milk as an option is a pretty standard busy practice in the coffee industry.  If 2/3rds of your customer base is comprised of true coffee aficionados and would never consider skim in their latte, that leaves 1/3rd of your base who only know what a latte is because of Starbucks (and my guess is the split is probably the other way).  The Starbucks group wants skim.

 

This industry is harder than heck to survive in much less limiting income potential for the sake of the "craft" or "tradition" of coffee.  You can still focus on the craft while providing the really simple option of a skinny latte.

Going on four years ago I took the leap and went from extreme hobbyist to professional purchasing an existing shop. At the time it offered whole and 1% milk and soy, 1% instead of skim because it was easier to texture. Today we offer whole, skim not 1% and soy at our now three locations. Skim because give customers want they ask for, what they want, when they are on a diet or otherwise. And absolutely no reason to also carry 1% or 2% in addiition. If someone asks for 1% or 2% simply mix whole and skim accordingly. Yes you have to steam skim different than whole to get good texture, but you can get very good texture steaming skim if you know what you're doing.

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christopher myers said:

Personally, I think it's no big deal to have some non-fat for people that really want it, but to have whole milk be the default if they don't specify.  If your milk is good you can still get a rosetta out of NF.  But I would still support your decision to do whole milk only.  The question is always, how do you communicate with your customers that your decision is valid.  "I'm trying to cut down my fat intake, why don't you offer fat free milk?"  What do you say to me?

 

I think the non-dairy option is something you should think about more.  If you're cutting out certain options to raise the quality of your drinks, why serve soy?  Most people agree it's simply not a good pairing with coffee.  I would go a step further and say it's downright gross.

 

Brady posted this in another thread about non-dairy options:  http://sprudge.com/wendelboes-wendelbog-soy-no-mi-gusta.html/commen...  and it really opened my eyes (thanks Brady!)  I always thought it was nasty but never thought about eliminating it since it's almost just assumed that a cafe will have it.  I think a shop should still have something to offer the lactose intolerant and the vegans, so our solution is to use refrigerated coconut milk and Blue Diamond almond milk.  We're going to experiment with a mixture of the two that would yield a good taste and nice texture, but if that doesn't work we'll do one or the other.  Also considering hemp milk.  All of which seem like better options than soy.  Yechh.  

Thanks for all of the responses.  I think we are going to stick to our guns, atleast initially.  (I may look into more non-dairy option)  Since we are starting from scratch I think it's always better to add the menu rather than take away.  If we get a lot of people walking away and never returning because we don't offer skim then maybe we'll have some sort of option.  The fact that we only offer small sizes and have a limited number of syrups and will also not have blended coffee drinks on the menu will hopefully set us apart enough to be able to only have whole milk as our option.  We'll see how it goes!  Thanks again folks!
I'm curious, what type of location will you have?  My guess is a downtown spot of less than 1200 sqft....

Oh... much easier to take away than to add later.  You stated it right in your response, "If we get a lot of people walking away and never returning because we don't offer skim then maybe we'll have some sort of option."  Those customers are never returning, and they'll never know you added another option.  Would you put up a big sign or take out an ad that says, "Now available, skim milk!?"  Nope.

 

I like that you're making your shop what you want it to be and I am by no means saying not offering skim milk equates to failure.  However, if you are in a suburb or you have a drive-thru, not having skim milk or different sizes or blended drinks is a financial mistake.  Thinking that you can simply add something to the menu after the fact is also a mistake.  Reinventing yourself and trying to get customers to try you a second time is way more expensive than grabbing them the first time.

 

People bemoan Starbucks, but without Starbucks 90% of us independents don't exist because there is no specialty coffee market (or it's a shadow of its current state).  There are 12,000 Starbucks serving frappes and skinny lattes because it works.  Let's see, their stores average nearly a $Million in gross sales, and the last time I checked, independents average under $200k...

 

I love coffee and roasting my own and educating the customer, but in the end if we aren't making money what's the point?

 

One final comment... I looked at my numbers last year and drinks with skim milk were nearly 40% of all my hot drink sales.  Blended and iced drinks comprised 15% of my total sales (and about 30% of those were skim).

 


Ty Paluska said:

Thanks for all of the responses.  I think we are going to stick to our guns, atleast initially.  (I may look into more non-dairy option)  Since we are starting from scratch I think it's always better to add the menu rather than take away.  If we get a lot of people walking away and never returning because we don't offer skim then maybe we'll have some sort of option.  The fact that we only offer small sizes and have a limited number of syrups and will also not have blended coffee drinks on the menu will hopefully set us apart enough to be able to only have whole milk as our option.  We'll see how it goes!  Thanks again folks!

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