The next time you receive a complaint about how much that beautiful, delicious, perfectly prepared cup of coffee costs, rejoice! Yup! This is your perfect opportunity to help your customer understand the true value of the “nectar of the gods.” Unless, of course, you haven’t yet experienced the amazing journey of coffee. In this case, I suggest you get yourself to origin at the earliest opportunity. I promise that when you return, you will NEVER again hesitate to ask for more money for that cup again.
In fact, I recently interviewed the former CEO of Second Cup Coffee (currently 300+ stores in Canada) and was impressed to learn that not a single franchisee was allowed to open a store without first visiting a coffee farm and picking coffee themselves. Now that is a commitment to quality, passion, and value!
Another recent example is a local roaster here on Vashon Island. Fairly new to the coffee industry, she had been hungry for every bit of knowledge she could find. She attended SCAA, Roasters Guild, Coffee Fest, took classes, and in January visited her first ever coffee farm (in Costa Rica). Robin Pollard, of Pollard Coffee’s, passion and commitment have paid off, and Wine Enthusiast recently named her as one of the “Seven Best Roasters in the Country.” “Zagat also featured Pollard as one of Seattle’s 7 Rising-Star Food Artisans.” You can bet that she does not under-value the coffee she sells. (See photos below of Pollard and photos of a few of our hands after the five-hour coffee picking adventure.)
There is a multitude of marketing and psychological data on “perceived value.” According to one research site, “For the most part, consumers are unaware of the true cost of production for the products they buy. Instead, they simply have an internal feeling for how much certain products are worth to them.” Your job is to help them understand just how much work went into that perfect cup. Frankly, it is a darn shame it is not more expensive, as the people working the hardest receive the least and often not enough to feed their families.
Those of you that have been to origin (the industry’s secret code word for where coffee is grown) and personally witnessed the incredibly labor intensive harvesting and processing of coffee, please chime in! Do you complain about the cost of a great cup any more? Have you shared the story with your co-workers and/or your customers? Without this understanding, how can we expect them to understand the difference between a cup of brown water and the complex beverage that has touched so many hands before they receive it?
Those of you that have not yet been to origin, talk to your roaster. They may be able to facilitate a tour, or at least point you in the correction direction. If you are not in the position to make it to origin, then at the very minimum educate yourself on the process.
To help, we are happy to email anyone a high-resolution pdf of our “Journey of Coffee” poster to print and post on your wall. Just email me –
firstname.lastname@example.org – and put “Coffee should cost more” in the subject line…