It is difficult to believe that it is August. First off, in the Pacific Northwest, unlike the rest of the country, we haven’t really finished with early spring yet. May June and July were the coldest in the history of record keeping in the PNW. The average high temperature for these “warm” months was 60.4 degrees! There was a sign at a hardware store that said, “summer’s here – we have heaters.” While the rest of the country sweltered in triple digit heat, we shivered in our blankets and polar fleece. I might rant on now about global temperature change and all that, but that is for another editorial.
This editorial is about August as the beginning of the busiest time of year for the coffee-retailing world. In about 5 weeks or so customers will begin the grand shift from blended iced beverages to steaming hot cups of coffee. We start the stampede through Fall and directly into the holidays, cold dark commutes, sleep deprivation, and frantic mornings getting the kids and everyone else out the door to the pre-dawn gloom of morning. In other words, the next 6 months are when cafes, roasters, and growers make their money and determine their futures.
August and into September are the last months you have to make whatever plans and strategies happen before the busy days start. After the beginning of September and the start of school, there simply will not be enough spare time to try anything new.
I have often wondered if Coffee Fest – Seattle actually marks the end of the annual business cycle for coffee. That event is a kind of “last chance” to put your programs together for the winter coffee period. Maybe that is why it is so well attended.
On the other hand, possibly the Roasters Guild Retreat this month when roasters have a last chance to study up on new techniques and hone skills before the coming dawn to dusk seven days a week roasting schedule begins in order to keep up with customer demand.
Maybe it is the end of the coffee year because of SinterCafe in Costa Rica and Ramacafe in Nicaragua that give growers a little time to reflect before picking of the new crops begin in October/November throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
It seems that August is when the coffee world takes a moment to take a deep breath and finish up the goals of last year before charging ahead into the new year. If you are going to introduce news recipes, you had better do it now. If you are toying with a new bean blend that is a winner, bring it out now because no customer will want to hear about anything new in November.
Now is the time to staff and train new associates so you can schedule the holiday shopping season and the stronger commute traffic in the morning. If your equipment is on shaky legs, get it fixed or replaced now before the rush.
Think about marketing ideas to attract new customers, and bring the old ones back in when it gets cold again. Do this now because I assure you that there will be no time for thinking when late Fall arrives.
Summer has been great but it is over. 5 weeks from now the hot coffee/espresso/latte folks come flooding back in and the blended beverage crowd heads back to school. If you are not ready, then you might lose possible revenue opportunities.
That is why Coffee Fest – Seattle, or Roasters’ Guild retreat, or the international conferences are so important for our industry. These shows are the last chance to meet the vendors who supply your equipment, syrups, sauces, machines, services, beverage mixes, cups, and so much more. You might find something new and take advantage of the possibilities this year, instead of next year.
CoffeeTalk is finishing up its own new surprises for this coming year as well. There are exciting things happening. We have always been the leader in innovation and reinvestment into our business. Stay tuned for new ways we will bring the news and views to you. Our 2011-2012 media kit is now up and on-line. Check it out at www.coffeetalk.com.
Remember to vote for your favorite non-profit in our “Making a Difference” issue (available on-line at www.coffeetalk.com) The organization that gets the most click-throughs before September 15th will receive a $1000 donation from CoffeeTalk to further their non-profit programs. Vote now to show support for your favorites.