I have expressed before that I am a value based individual. This is often times assessed as cheap. At times there really isn’t much of a difference. Sometimes it helps me keep from doing silly things and sometimes it hinders my enjoyment of good things. Now that I am moving into the specialty coffee world, I find that it is hard to be cheap because everything is so freak’n expensive.
My current example is when I built my pour over station. I wanted to get a Hario, but I could not justify spending $25 on something that I could get for $8 at World Market. Surprise! The $8 pour over is garbage. Now I am stuck with these things that aren’t good for anything AND I have to spend more money to get the Hario. How did that work out for me? FAIL. Yeah, I was being cheap.
This got me thinking about pricing in the specialty coffee world. I think I am like a lot Americans: not willing to spend more money for something I can get cheaper somewhere else. (Thank you Wal-Mart for ruining us.) There are enough shops succeeding out there to say, “Yes, the specialty coffee world is succeeding.” But could it succeed more if it wasn’t so expensive? Could we keep it “specialty” if it was less expensive? Or, does price determine how we view things? Do we only consider it “specialty” if it is 50% more expensive then everything else?
I also think that it has to do with socialization. Starbucks changed our culture a while ago. The coffee that most Americans drank before Bucks was instant or terrible. Bucks got Americans used to $2 for a cup of coffee, which was insane not that long ago. I was there when they raised the price from $2 to $2.05 and people were outraged over a nickel (there were people who understood as well, but we did lose customers). It seems we get used to something and want it to stay that way for ever. Change is hard, especially when it takes more of our money for the same thing.
Once you finally break through the barrier of price and get use to the quality of good coffee, you can start to justify the price (re-socializing yourself). But the initial break through from crappy coffee to specialty coffee is an expensive one. One that I think many American’s don’t make because of the cost.