Monday, December 20, 2010

Caribou: "We don't like to punish our decaf customers."

I had the chance last week to chat with Brett Struwe, fellow Roasters Guild member and Director of Coffee Operations at Caribou Coffee Co. The topic was Caribou's relatively unique and ground-breaking move 5 years ago to upcharge $.1o for a cup of decaf coffee. It says it plain as day on each menu board. Decaf whole bean bags get an upcharge of $1.00.

I asked Brett why. He answered that there was a strategic decision made at the time that they would upgrade the quality of their decaf offering. To them, that meant serving only water-process decaf and toll-decaffeinating green coffee they sourced from trusted vendors (i.e. instead of buying "off the shelf" decaf from a decaffeinator). To cover the costs of this quality upgrade, they had to charge more. A standard "upcharge" per cup and per pound seemed simplest. "Seems to be working, or we wouldn't be doing it, " Brett said.

He commented further on how they are dedicated at Caribou to offering a certain level of quality, even if it means they lose a percentage of the market. Then he made the comment that was so perfect I had to ask if I could quote him in my blog, "we don't like to punish our decaf customers."

Thanks Brett and the crew at Caribou!

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