My son kept my wife awake and busy downstairs, so naturally I couldn't sleep well without her present. As I lay awake last night, my brain ran wild. I started thinking about coffee, go figure. The work I'm involved in now, starting up a brand new coffee shop from scratch, keeps me thinking. What methods to use to be most profitable were swirling in my mind in the early AM's. So, what are these methods? Well, last night I was thinking of just two: Quality product or mass appeal. Yes, I know it is possible to have both, but there is always a slant.
Vida Coffee Co is located on the biggest, most populated college campus in Missouri. It is filled with college age people, most of which are just beginning their exploration into the coffee market. None of this is bad in any way, but it does force me to choose a direction. Does Vida go with a highly "value added" approach or one of mass appeal like Starbucks' drinks? I think we all know what I mean by mass appeal- lots of sugar and dairy, easily identified with what is already available at huge coffee chains, and less dependent on the integrity of the coffee beans' quality, etc. The term "value added" may be a little more abstract.
You may have guessed simply from reading previous posts that I am not a mass appeal sort of coffee enthusiast. I insist on must-have coffee. If I'm going to pay that kind of money for it, it has got to be jaw-droppingly well prepared. Value added concept encapsulates this premise. Let me give you an example to help explain. If you came into Vida Coffee Co and ordered a cup of Kenya AA and really liked it, I would offer to explain a bit of the growing and harvesting process to you. Then if you were still interested, I would proceed to show you a French Press and explain how it would help you brew that Kenya AA in an even more delicate and precise manner. If you continued to show interest, I would then offer to sell you a French Press. This is where value added really starts to show up: I would sell you that French Press, then give you a tutorial on using it, give you some fresh Kenya AA to practice with, offer to help you maintain the new press, show you personal grinders that could help you get even fresher brews, and all the while impress on you how this coffee is to be made more meaningful and valuable.
Mass appeal does not even begin this conversation. Mass appeal stops at the cash register. Mass appeal leaves the customer in the dark. It even hopes that you as the customer stays in the dark about coffee- to continue spending money on those unnecessarily sugary, milk laden, value-minimal drinks. Don't get me wrong, those drinks serve their purposes, but to leave people in the dark about the possibilities of coffee just seems wrong. It is possible to appeal both to the masses and add some value to their ideas of coffee, but it is very difficult. I suppose if I must err, I choose to show people enthusiasm for coffee, not just for their money.
Lord, thank you for the great coffee. Keep my head deflated and on straight. Here we go.