Jul 13, 2010

Coffee shops are not in the coffee business


Drinking coffee is more than just inducing caffeine into your system. It’s so much more: Socially, historically, culturally.

People all over the world meet over a cup of coffee to socialize. And we’ve done it for centuries. In Norway, it’s impolite not to offer a visitor a cup of coffee. No matter if the visit was a wanted one or not ;) Coffee is a social mediator, something which makes the conversation run smoother and keeps you awake if it draws out…

That’s why I always say that coffee shop owners are not in the coffee business. They’re in the business of creating good times for people. They’re in the business of creating a mood. Oftentimes they’re the people who start the day for people. Or meet them in their busiest time of day. Or when they need to relax and get their mind off something.

If you’re a coffee shop owner, consider this fact again: You are not in the coffee business. And when you realize it’s true: Make your customers appreciate the fact that you know it.

Excellent coffee

Of course, you need to make good coffee. Excellent coffee, actually. But if you don’t invest the time to get to know your customers, you won’t have success. You need to get to know them a little. And you need to know when not to bother them, just leave them to their own thoughts and tasks. Open up for conversation – be aware of when to let go.

There is a fine line between including and intruding. You want to include people. Show them you care. Make them your friends.

The atmosphere and the people

When the oldest coffee shop in this city moved recently, they completely changed the interior and style of the place. The new place is larger, resembling more of an American diner. Whilst the original one had a warmer interior. Wood and darker colors.

After the move, and change of interior, there were some concerns. Some of the regulars at the original one mentioned that the new coffee shop doesn't have the same, warm atmosphere they were used to. The new place is OK, but it’s like the one they came to love. That says a lot, I think. The patrons of a coffee shop are attached to the place. It’s their second home. So you might be careful about changing the atmosphere too much. Make sure you understand what they love about your place. Ir you want to change – change stuff that improves the place – not stuff that people will miss.


Strengthen the bond

Coffee has been called a “social oil” – fueling the bond between people. As a barista or coffee shop owner, you help strengthen this bond.

So it’s not just about the coffee. It’s about the atmosphere. It’s about that smile from the barista, it’s about that nice and uncomplicated morning chat, it’s about that nod to the girl at the corner table.

The coffee is there, but if it was just for the coffee, people could just as well make it at home…

Kristoffer Sandven

Kristoffer Sandven is the founder and author of The People Mag, Shuttertips.net, JoomlaBlogger.net and more. His daily work involved web development, SEO, Photography and selling coffee online.