Trust

November 24th, 2008

This is the first in a series of posts on quite a broad topic within coffee, that covers not only elements of brewing but sales, consumption, successes and failures and the challenges that lie ahead for anyone in the industry.

I am going to start with trust.  This might seem an abstract word, but I hope at the end of this it will earn its place as a fitting title.  What I really want to talk about is the state of relations between the average consumer and the average cafe.  In my eyes we have, by and large, lost the trust of the consumer.

To start with I want to use the example of restaurants:  Let’s put you in the situation of being stranded in a strange town, full of independent restaurants and you are very hungry.  You scan the menus outside of three or four places and from this you will make some judgments on those businesses.  Two key factors here will influence your judgement – what dishes they serve and their price.

The first is really quite obvious – from the dishes you’ll know whether to expect home cooking or whether to expect Michelin level cuisine.  However this won’t really give you a very strong indicator of the quality compared to the prices.

Now let’s skip to the end of the meal.  You chose the place with the fancy cooking, and you’ve racked up quite a bill.  What’s more the food wasn’t very good.  In fact it was terrible.  How do you feel?  Angry?  Taken advantage of?  Disappointed?  Betrayed?

When restaurants do this they completely lose our trust – we’ll likely never spend any money with them again, and probably go out of our way to make sure family and friends don’t fall into that trap.

Hopefully you can see where I am going with this – think about the coffee you’ve bought in the past, and the prices you’ve paid.  How often has the price been correctly tied to the quality?  How often have you had your trust abused?  I am sure I am not alone in being extremely distrustful of most places selling coffee (globally I might add).

If you own a cafe then ask yourself if your customers trust you.  I mean really trust you.  If a regular came in and you had an unusual (but excellent) coffee in your grinder, or to drink as a french press brew, would they buy it on your recommendation?  If you found a coffee you thought was worth £5 a cup, could you sell it to them?

The advantages of trust are obvious – increased loyalty, increased customer spend, easier ethical/helpful upselling and a win/win for you and your customer.

I’ll aim to continue this next week…..

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