It’s All About The Experience

Coffee is my indulgence, drug and generally makes me happy. Just the smell of coffee is enough to change my mood. Che and I often joke that should we ever own a coffee shop, we’ll have permanently roasting beans at the entrance to entice customers in.

This isn’t cheating at all – perfume counters do it all the time, spraying expensive scents to entice customers to buy. It is also very interesting that said perfume counters are always to be found at entrances to stores. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Anyway, back to the coffee shop thread. With my love of coffee, it is natural for me to think of establishing my own shop. I would be happy all the time, not to mention just a tad hyper.

Peter Baskerville, who’s founded many coffee shops writes about 12 secrets to a successful coffee shop. He gives advice on what food to sell (not too much variety), the layout of the barista station (close to the cash register so the barista can hear the orders come in and get a head start on the order), and to get the best machine with the best coffee.

The secret is to consistently serve the finest espresso. He says that “espresso coffee is one of those rare products where consistent 100% quality matters“. I can vouch for this, having tasted some bad espresso and some simply divine.

The most eye-opening point he makes is that “coffee shops, like restaurants, are much more a people/service business than they are a goods/transactional one”.

Which is the same point that Cole Schafer makes in his article How to run the best coffee shop in the world.

He mentions 10 points, from knowing all your customers by name, to serving a good cup of coffee to never taking your customers for granted. He ends off by saying – “understand that you aren’t in the coffee business –– you’re in the people business“.

In my last travels, I got pretty tired of being ripped off for a cup of coffee. It’s shocking that so-called local coffee shops will treat customers badly, charge an arm and a leg for coffee and a sandwich and are unsympathetic towards a traveller who doesn’t have small change. It got to the point that I dreaded going into a coffee shop, which didn’t do much for my mood, and which eventually drove me into a Starbucks.

Why? Because I knew I was going to get a friendly face and a consistent experience. So even though I lost the ‘local feel’, I felt treated like a valued customer, someone with a name, a person. Whether I’m in Amsterdam, Lisbon or Atlanta, especially in areas of high transit, I will seek out a Starbucks because the emotional overhead of trying local in some locales is just too high.

In his article, E is for Experience, entrepreneur, Roche Mamabolo writes of a similar experience to the one I had recently, and goes onto write about the  Starbucks experience and says “from products and store fronts to your own personality, people want a real experience.” It’s about “a joyous smiling waiter that is interested in your name instantly becomes your friend.”

Like any business, running a coffee shop is about people, “more than words, slogans and tag-lines, what your customers cherish is how you make them feel“. And customers never forget how you make them feel.

So to all coffee shop owners out there, remember that your business is about people and the experience that will keep us coming back for more. So, a small glass of coffee liqueur with my cappuccino is fine, but if it’s slapped down on the table without care then no amount of zing I might get from the alcohol and the coffee-induced-happy-state will compel me to return.

Right, so, I’m not punting Starbucks, I’m not getting paid by them to write this (I’m not even linking to their website), I just want to make that clear.


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