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Coffee Shop Heads-Up from Virginia

by Claire Martinsen on Fri 09th Mar 2012 03:45

I was in Viriginia a few weeks back – lets be honest, it is hardly the cutting edge of coffee-shop trends in the US [I guess you’d have to go to one of the metropolis’s to really see that] and also I was there on a Farm Shop conference. Nevertheless I was curious to see if there were any smart things that the Americans were doing that were different.

Here are the things that caught my eye………………….

The Americans are just more serious about coffee…….It was the first time it had really struck me, but America is a coffee nation and that means that poor coffee is not tolerated as easily as it would be in the UK.  Even the farmshops had a decent coffee offering and had spent time deciding on which coffee to sell. Us Brits sometimes just don’t care enough………..

Blonde Roast….I loved the notion of Blonde roast!  Sitting along side medium roast, and dark roast it looked great. [Excuse shaky hand – had man from Starbucks growling at me for taking photos – Oops!]

Handcrafted…….I noticed that even Starbucks have started describing their coffee as ‘handcrafted’.  Now since every coffee is produced to order in Starbucks, I guess that coffee is handcrafted by default.  But I loved the way that they had started introducing some emotive and descriptive words into their signage.  It made it more personal [even for a mass market global giant]

Signage…..Let’s get one thing clear, the Americans are great at signage.  There were signs that made customers smile, and outlets that aren’t afraid to connect with a laugh.

Story of the Cup……..This example from Caribou Coffee is probably the best I saw at explaining that there was a story behind the cup of coffee that was being presented to you.  But it made me realise that stories make customers feel more connnected.

The Floor story……….My favourite example was an A4 sign on a coffee shop in Charlottesville, where even the history of the floor was explained.  It was a recycled floor from a decommisioned factory.  Just the fact that they explained that even the floor had been chosen and selected with love, made me think they really cared.

Free Community Coffee Shop Leaflet…….This was a free A4 sheet available to read over a cup of coffee.  A mix of news [centrally generated] with local tradesman advertising – all printed on some lovely brown paper. I thought it was a great small business idea, it allowed the coffee shop to connect with the community, it gave visitors something to read – so win/win all round.


Little observations, but food for thought!





Posted in: General Musings!


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