Focus.

Zoom out for a minute. Remove yourself from the position of coffee insider. In fact, toss away any foodie cool you might credit yourself with.

Now, imagine you walk into a cafe, coffee house, coffee bar, or whatever the hip kids are calling them these days. You’re a bit sleepy and you need a little pick-me-up. A cup of coffee.

You glance at the menu and the prices for a cup are listed. You’re set on a 12 ounce cup for $2. Then, you notice that you can order a cup of “pour over” coffee for $3. The thought occurs, “Maybe I should try some of this special “hand poured” coffee.”

But reality sets in. You’re no coffee geek. You don’t have some magical palate that will allow you to taste the schnoz berries and wonder-dust written in the description on the menu board. You’re an average guy, with an average palate.

You stick to what you know, and call the $2 cup good enough, forgetting that the $3 cup ever crossed your mind.

I’m aware that I’m sincerely generalizing the average Joe and underestimating the power of the persuasive barista. But I keep seeing businesses that have a pour-over setup sitting in a lonely corner, waiting for it’s day when it will get to come out and shine… and from a business stand point, it seems like it’s only there for the coffee guys. Like the only reason that someone went out and bought the chemex or the v60 was so they could keep up with the current trends in the industry.

Like all trends in any business industry, it’s important to ask yourself, “Why?” Why bother offering brewed by the cup coffee? If you’re so in love with the results of your chemex, why keep your batch brewer?

I like Intelligentsia and I like Coava because those companies focus on exclusively selling hand-poured brewed coffee… and because their baristas get so much practice, they’re good at making it.

I also like coffee from a little spot in Vancouver, WA called Dripster, because they really give a shit about their Fetco coffee. They rinse their paper filter, they preheat every airpot, and they clean the crap out the brewer. And the coffee is really good.

I find that I loath some coffee spots because they get so caught up in tamping that the coffee in their airpots leaves much to be desired, and they spend so little time making beehouse coffee that no one on staff seems completely sure of the current store method.

We tend to focus a ton on our industry and its trends, and too often we forget to ask the important questions. Sometimes I believe it can water down our message, and distract us from what we are purposely trying to convey to customers. It all goes back to the simple idea of knowing what it is you want to do as a business and then working as hard as you can to be great at it.

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One thought on “Focus.

  1. I love this perspective. I view coffee spots as a consumer first and then as an insider. And it is amazing how the concept gets so lost when you walk in the front door. It is disheartening because the coffee could be good but its treatment and hand off are lack luster. I feel snobbish at times but I truley am in search for a solid experience at a shop. Keep writing. Its fantastic.

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