Sunday, November 21, 2010

Marketing Great Decaf

Presenting at CoffeeFest Seattle last month was fun because it was also educational. Even as the presenter on marketing decaf, I was able to learn a lot! In my seminar "Don't Ignore the Decaf: How Decaf Can Improve Your Bottom Line" I presented ideas for roasters and cafe owners, and they in-turn shared some exciting things they are doing out there already.

Of course, I shared a list of my marketing ideas: don't compromise on quality, don't assume you know how much your customer will pay for it, educate your customers about the added-value process that decaffeination is, etc. At the end, I had a list of promotional, tactical suggestions meant to start some brainstorming, for example: target the older population, hold a decaf cupping, use "coffee lovers" coupons to encourage passionate coffee drinkers to not stop late in the day, just because they've had enough caffeine.

The ideas from the audience were even better! The one cafe owner had started a "Baby Club" in his cafe -- the nursing and expecting moms all enjoy and rave about his decaf. One roaster does regular coffee "tastings" at his customer's premises - a grocery store. They often do a blind tasting with one of the coffees being decaf and they are surprised how often the decaf wins. They've won more than a few new decaf customers this way.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

CoffeeFest Seattle

Seattle, WA - it's true! There are espresso cafes and "walk-ups" nearly every 20 yards when you're downtown Seattle near the convention center. I enjoyed my first visit to CoffeeFest Seattle, Oct. 29-31. It was a fun distillation of the coffee industry, with a distinctly heavy dose of the "thinking of opening a cafe" crowd amongst the attendees. Among the exhibitors, it was, not surprisingly, a terrific group of very high-end coffee roasters, importers and retailers, primarily from the Northwest -- the region with the highest coffee consumers after Norway!

What was unique this year was probably the fact that it was Halloween. Here's a photo of me pulling shots for the latte art throwdown at Victrola Coffee Roasting Co.'s fun Halloween party on Saturday evening. You can also see the "winning cups" and one of the competing baristas (I was NOT a contestant, just a volunteer!)

The Decaf Scene at CoffeeFest Seattle

On the decaf scene, the CoffeeFest Seattle crowd showed themselves to be exciting and distinctive!! Mercanta (an importer) had a direct-trade Honduran decaf on the cupping table. Cafe Umbria had decaf espresso to serve from their gorgeous espresso machine and luxus style booth. For the first time, this coffee-loving attendee was able to get a great decaf espresso at the show!