How To Maximize A Drip Coffee Program

In reviewing the recent Specialty Coffee Association of America sector report, I was most encouraged to see that drip coffee sales were up 8-9% through the first quarter of 2011. Drip coffee made the greatest improvement in sales across every category, which includes iced coffee, tea, espresso beverages, etc.

The simple explanation for this trend would be that many customers opted for the lower priced cup of drip coffee in lieu of a latte or blended drink. While this notion is absolutely true, it doesn’t account for the positive jump from 4Q 2010 to 1Q 2011 in the other categories, too. Per the SCAA report, most beverage categories experienced a boost, too.

It is important to realize that an investment in your drip coffee program will spark sales of your retail coffee, too, which in turn will increase your average ticket and, hopefully, bring more customers in the door. This positive cycle can be started by:

1) Engaging your customers. Fostering an environment of open dialogue and feedback builds personal connections and customers invest in places they feel that invest in them. Try inviting your coffee geeks to cup new single-origins with you as they arrive. Open up a blend development class and have them consult on a custom holiday blend. You’d be amazed at what a few regulars can offer. These customers will also be your greatest brand ambassadors, too.

2) Ensuring a coffee program is tailored to meet the needs and wants of its customers and not just the business owners. This is crucial. There can be a million amazingly rare single-origin coffees available at a cafe, but if its located in a predominantly blue collar town, chances are, most of the potential customer base isn’t interested, regardless of how passionate and excited a business owner is. On the flip side, flavored coffee might not work in a downtown, urban, slow food fanatic environment, either.

Identifying your customer is essential. In June of last year, Starbucks, after discovering over 60% of their customers drink flavored coffee, invested heavily in an all-natural flavored coffee program in groceries across the US. What percentage of your customers drink flavored coffee? As I mentioned in a previous article, it might be a great fit in your business. What percentage would want an incredible single-origin Organic coffee from Papua New Guinea? Find out what people want and give it to them.

3) Changing things up. Variety is the spice of life. As one colleague once told me, Change isn’t always good, but it gets people talking. Tout appropriate seasonal offerings. Coffee is an agricultural product and the change of season and crop cycle should be celebrated. Alongside tried-and-true favorites, include special rotating, limited time only coffees and promote the heck out of them. “Get them while they’re still available” is an outstanding motivator to buy. These special varietals, blends and flavors can be a boon for retail coffee sales.

Look for some special limited time only coffees from Stockton Graham & Co. in the coming weeks and months ahead. Be sure to connect with us on Facebook to know when these varietals become available.

Mike Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.