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Adding Value

I am an operations person, so I tend to like things that add value. If something doesn't add value, I want to "lean" it out (remove it for efficiency). How does that relate to coffee?

Let's be real, coffee is just dirty water to majority of Americans. We have had a surge in specialty coffee that is MUCH better (in every way) then what our parents drank. So why do people still buy coffee at Circle K (or other gas stations)? My position is that they do not see the value in specialty coffee.

I have in depth conversations with my friend about coffee and business and marketing and how they all tie together. I proposed to him that people determine what they like by the value they get. Someone who has lots of disposable income will value a $150 bottle of wine, when someone living off of $25k/year will taste it and say, "its good, but not worth $150." Why do two humans taste the same thing and think something completely different? Values.

My buddy heard this piece on NPR shortly after our conversation and he sent me the link (shared below). They discuss that people apply value to what they experience (both positive and negative). One of the speakers gives an example of a barista who explained to him where the coffee came from, how he was grinding it, how he was brewing it and then told him that it would be the best cup of coffee he ever drank. Guess what? It was! Why? Not because the coffee was better than any other, but because the barista took the time to add value to the cup of coffee. The person drinking that cup now realizes how much work was done to get him that perfect cup of coffee. When he drank it, all of the value added by the barista was applied to the experience of the drink. To two mixed to create a memorable (and valuable) experience to the drinker.

I do believe that if that coffee would have been crappy coffee that had been sitting on a burner for 2 hours and someone told him it was going to be the best cup of coffee he ever had, the drinker would have been able to taste the lie.

Now, to finish this blog of with a short rant: I get so tired of baristas who do not add value to the coffee they serve. I frequent a local coffee shop that has some of the best coffee in town. The people behind the counter have no idea what they are brewing or what it should taste like. I have spoken to the owner and know what kind of effort goes into making that coffee and it is impressive. This little shop could explode if the baristas just took 2 minutes to learn what they were brewing and share it with customers. I say this from my personal experience. Knowing what they do to make good coffee, I feel like I am donating $2.50 for a cup of coffee; where as, I feel screwed paying $2 for a cup at Starbucks.

I have also had quite a few Starbucks baristas tell me, "we arent' brewing that anymore, all I have is pour over." They say it so negatively that I have watched people buy americanos because of how they sold the pour over. Why not say, "I don't have it brewed right now, but a pour over is the freshest coffees you can have, brews right into your cup. If you don't mind waiting about two and half minutes..." The difference is value. The first approach took value away from pour over, the recommended approach added value to pour over. I bet people would ask for pour over in the future because they will believe it to be more fresh than standard brewing. It is all about the value we apply and associate to what we experience.

In the end, I believe we have to add value to our products. We don't want to be greasy salesmen. We do want our customers to understand what is awesome about our product and be able to articulate it to others. Once a customer can articulate what they enjoy, it makes it real for them and they will come back for more.

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