Tag Archive for: business

by Mike Dabadie

Marketing Miracles

Categories: 2014, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , Author:

By this time in the cal­en­dar year, some orga­ni­za­tions have already started to develop strate­gic and/or annual oper­at­ing plans. Some call these sales plans and in large orga­ni­za­tions there may be both long-range strate­gic plans as well as yearly plans that oper­a­tional­ize the long-term strate­gic plan. Some even have plans down at the team or depart­men­tal level.
For small busi­nesses, the plan for 2015 may just be ideas, scrib­bles on paper, or notes slapped on a com­puter screen. The “plan on a nap­kin” may even be present!
Still for oth­ers, there is no busi­ness plan. In fact, there may not be any type of plan! Without solid plan­ning a busi­ness car­ries more risk, misses oppor­tu­ni­ties, allows a com­peti­tor to seize advan­tages, slows down progress, and cre­ates con­fu­sion.
As General Eisenhower famously said, “In prepar­ing for bat­tle, I have always found that plans are use­less, but plan­ning is indispensable.”

So, what is strate­gic plan­ning and what are the impor­tant com­po­nents of a plan? First, let’s pull apart the term strate­gic planning.

I define strat­egy as the art and sci­ence of cre­at­ing a plan to bring about a desired out­come. Before you plan, you want to be strate­gic in order to reach an out­come. In your busi­ness or life; if you want to do some­thing, how are you going to do it? Strategy helps you to think about how to get there.

Planning can be defined as help­ing to iden­tify those strate­gies and accom­pa­ny­ing actions to guide you toward a desired out­come. Planning are the tac­tics and the ways to get there.

Taken together, these def­i­n­i­tions bring to life what suc­cess­ful orga­ni­za­tions do so well: strate­gic planning.

Over the years, we have observed and worked with many orga­ni­za­tions on their strate­gic plans.

We believe that strate­gic plans and the strate­gic plan­ning process should reflect and respect the fol­low­ing: the cul­ture of the orga­ni­za­tion, the peo­ple involved, the mission/vision/values of the orga­ni­za­tion, the need for real­is­tic and attain­able hori­zon goals, the resources that can be deployed for imple­men­ta­tion, and the desire for focused action.
At this point you may be ask­ing your­self where to start and what process to use. The best mar­keters use a “diver­gence and con­ver­gence” approach that cre­ates many ideas and then fil­ters those down against a set of cri­te­ria for suc­cess to arrive at a set of actions for their plan. I call this a “dou­ble dia­mond” and a typ­i­cal process is shown in this graphic that pro­duces hori­zons of initiatives:

dabadie copy

As such, the fol­low­ing are ele­ments of plans that have worked, and if you desire to do some plan­ning I would sug­gest that you imbed these in your work.
Successful strate­gic plans have sev­eral com­mon traits:

•    A plan based on the real­ity of today but is aspi­ra­tional: Stretch your­self to reach for a bold goal.
•    An exec­u­tive spon­sor and owner of the process: Someone has to lead these efforts and the CEO or owner can­not just dep­u­tize.
•    An exec­u­tive spon­sor and owner of imple­men­ta­tion: Plans are just that unless you do some­thing with them, and then the power of progress is unleashed.
•    Navigates the polit­i­cal real­i­ties of the orga­ni­za­tion: Agendas and cul­ture can get in the way, so accom­mo­date real­i­ties.
•    Goals, imper­a­tives, and tac­tics tied to spe­cific out­comes: Setting goals is nice, but be clear on the pur­pose.
•    Innovative tech­niques to reveal new oppor­tu­ni­ties and cre­ate an expe­ri­ence: Strategic plan­ning can be bor­ing, but the rev­e­la­tion and inspi­ra­tion of new ideas can be sparked by cre­at­ing inno­v­a­tive expe­ri­ences to open new ideas.
•    Clear and uni­fy­ing agree­ment of the brand promise: Your prod­uct makes a promise to a cus­tomer and in turn that cus­tomer has an expec­ta­tion on what they will get if they use your prod­uct. Define and deliver on that promise – it’s that sim­ple.
•    Collaborative input across the orga­ni­za­tion: The best ideas come from those vested in the results and through part­ner­ing.
•    Socialized through­out the orga­ni­za­tion for full under­stand­ing: Being famil­iar with the plan is not enough – insure that employ­ees and lead­ers under­stand it and that there is there align­ment around the plan.
•    Focused on 3–5 strate­gic objec­tives and a very clear plan of imple­men­ta­tion: Most orga­ni­za­tions try to cram too many ideas into a strate­gic plan. Focus. The best plans have 3–5 main ini­tia­tives.
•    Supports real-time strate­gic decision-making: Use the plan to take action and not win­dow dress.
•    Aligns resources to insure imple­men­ta­tion: It takes time and invest­ment to reach your goals.
•    Is a con­tin­u­ously improved plan against annual and long-term goals: While many strate­gic plans take a 3–5 year hori­zon view, they should roll annu­ally and there should be a yearly adjust­ment based on busi­ness and mar­ket changes.
•    Measures progress and imple­men­ta­tion over time: Hold your­self and oth­ers accountable.

You do not have to take all of these steps nor use a very rig­or­ous process, and per­haps the best place to begin is to just write it on a nap­kin. But I encour­age you to embrace this approach and through it you will find your own diamond.

Mike Dabadie is the founder of Heart+Mind Strategies, LLC, a research con­sul­tancy that con­tin­ues to pio­neer the use of personal-values insights and mar­ket­ing. He can be reached at

Roaster/Retailer Profiles

Categories: 2014, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

It all started in 1992 when Paul Odom took a dif­fer­ent direc­tion from his family’s bev­er­age busi­ness and founded Fonté Coffee Roaster just as the cof­fee boom was about to explode in Seattle, Washington. While spe­cialty cof­fee was just becom­ing more pop­u­lar with con­sumers, Odom saw a void in the hos­pi­tal­ity mar­ket for a high-end prod­uct, notic­ing a lag in excep­tional qual­ity and ser­vice to chefs, restau­ra­teurs and hoteliers.

At age 22, just out of col­lege, Odom made it his mis­sion to cre­ate the finest cof­fee and espresso blends in the world by set­ting the strictest stan­dards in prod­uct devel­op­ment and deliv­ery. He pro­cured the best roast­ing and pro­cess­ing equip­ment, part­nered with arguably the most tal­ented mas­ter roaster in the indus­try, built a sales team with expe­ri­ence in pre­mium cof­fee and estab­lished a busi­ness to ser­vice this untapped market.

Today, Odom over­sees a rig­or­ous daily roast­ing sched­ule, a sales force on both coasts and a qual­ity con­trol pro­gram that main­tains the high­est stan­dards of ser­vice to its top-tier clien­tele. Odom also launched Fonté’s online busi­ness and down­town café to ser­vice a ris­ing demand for its cof­fee prod­ucts in the con­sumer market.

Odom’s right hand man, Steve Smith, has a dis­tin­guished career in roast­ing cof­fee span­ning over three decades. He is an indus­try vet­eran and con­sid­ered an expert by many in the cof­fee trade. Beginning in 1979, Smith worked for Starbucks and was one of the first roast­ers ever trained under the three orig­i­nal own­ers of the com­pany. He was the first roaster to earn the title of Master Roaster and was respon­si­ble for all aspects of the roast­ing process. In 1992 Smith dis­cov­ered a like-minded enthu­si­ast for small batch, arti­san cof­fee in Fonté Coffee Roaster founder Paul Odom and joined forces as the company’s mas­ter roaster.

Smith’s pro­duc­tion phi­los­o­phy is that of a cof­fee purist – his tech­niques adhere to the strictest stan­dards and work to main­tain the integrity of the cof­fee fla­vor dur­ing the roast­ing process. Smith is respon­si­ble for every aspect of cof­fee production.

He hand-selects each season’s best green cof­fee from all over the globe, and reviews farms’ har­vest­ing prac­tices, from Papua New Guinea to Ethiopia to Guatemala (he notes, his col­lege Spanish degree did come in handy). He feels single-origin cof­fees are lay­ing the foun­da­tion for a more mature appre­ci­a­tion of refined cof­fee fla­vor profiles.

At Fonté, he holds reg­u­lar cup­pings with owner Paul Odom to study fla­vor pro­files from var­i­ous regions and to cre­ate a plan for the devel­op­ment of Fonté’s pro­pri­etary blends. He also over­sees a rig­or­ous pro­duc­tion sched­ule based on a daily roast-to-order sys­tem, ship­ping out cof­fee to clients within 24 hours of roast­ing, always mak­ing sure that Fonté deliv­ers the fresh­est prod­uct pos­si­ble. He also man­ages the tea pro­gram, which includes import­ing a vari­ety of exotic teas, super­vis­ing blend­ing and devel­op­ing new exclu­sive blends.

I had a brief inter­view with mas­ter roaster Steve, who was kind enough to answer some questions:

V. How did you get involved with Fonté?
S. My involve­ment with Fonté began when I met Paul, the founder, at a small short-lived cof­fee com­pany where I ran the cof­fee pro­gram. Paul was inter­ested in buy­ing some of that company’s pro­duc­tion equip­ment to sup­port a set of retail stores he had begun open­ing and he hap­pened into our office at a time when I was cup­ping sev­eral sam­ples. I invited him to join me in the cup­ping, and as we talked I began to appre­ci­ate the scope and depth of Paul’s plans such that I was very pleased when he offered me an oppor­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in what became Fonté Coffee Roaster.

V. Please describe Fonté’s phi­los­o­phy and unique­ness in just a few words, and elab­o­rate on each?
S. Ours is a phi­los­o­phy of excel­lence within con­text. Fonté is look­ing to share a very per­sonal expe­ri­ence of appre­ci­a­tion for vivid and fleet­ing cof­fee fla­vors in vir­tu­ally any con­text in which cof­fee is taken. And this under­scores the unique­ness of Fonté: we are capa­ble of pro­vid­ing an excel­lent cof­fee in any con­text, whether it be an exotic sin­gle ori­gin espresso, a 6 gal­lon urn at a ban­quet or a cold brew martini.

V. You have been in busi­ness for a really long time now (how long exactly?) what has changed over the past sev­eral years (in the indus­try over­all and the men­tal­ity of the con­sumer)?
S. We started in 1992. During the years we’ve been in busi­ness, growth has been the over-arching big deal, and the result has been that there is more of every­thing: more top qual­ity cof­fee, more peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing in the busi­ness, more inter­est and venues for spe­cialty cof­fee. There is also more silli­ness, more mis­un­der­stand­ing and dog­ma­tism, and more pre­tenses. It’s a pretty col­or­ful business.

V. Being both a suc­cess­ful roaster and a retailer, how do you man­age not to com­pete with your cus­tomers? I guess mainly the ques­tion con­cerns Seattle, or other cities as well?
S. Our retail pres­ence is so small as to not threaten our whole­sale cus­tomers. I think they appre­ci­ate the fact that we share an inti­mate under­stand­ing of what being a suc­cess­ful retailer entails.

V. What makes you one of the lead­ers in the indus­try as of today?
S. Our deter­mi­na­tion to con­tinue to put cof­fee fla­vor above trendy lifestyle expressions.

Fonté Coffee Company

Seattle, Washington

Maxim Vershinin has been a colum­nist for CoffeeTalk for the last few years high­light­ing var­i­ous roast­ers and retail­ers in the indus­try. He has lived in Peru for the last few years and is now fur­ther­ing his edu­ca­tion at Columbia University seek­ing a B.A. in economics.

Roasters Rock

Categories: 2014, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

As a roaster, barista, or any other cof­fee pro­fes­sional you have access to some of the best cof­fee in the world. This is a bless­ing to be sure! But don’t take it for granted.

As a Q Grader and R Grader trainer I now get to travel world help­ing to improve com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the sup­ply chain so we can all talk about qual­ity cof­fee a lit­tle more eas­ily. I too have access to great cof­fee even if I have to seek it out a lit­tle more now that I don’t have a roast­ing facility.

Even though I have access to ‘the good stuff’ I still drink the hotel cof­fee when I travel. Not every cup. I do carry a drip­per with me so I can have a lit­tle san­ity when grad­ing papers in my room. But I drink enough of the in room crap to remind me of one impor­tant thing:  My job is NOT done yet! I encour­age you to do the same!

As cof­fee peo­ple we strive to make a great prod­uct that we like, and hope our cus­tomers like it too. We are also keenly aware of the con­nec­tion we have to face­less, name­less cof­fee grow­ers around the world that scratch the earth to grow the beans we use and to eke out a bit of a liv­ing for their families.

I still believe in the premise that increased qual­ity of cof­fee will gen­er­ate increased value in the prod­uct at what­ever point the qual­ity is added. If the farmer uses selec­tive pick­ing he should be rewarded. If a barista hand drips a beau­ti­ful Sidamo, he should be rewarded as well.

When I started in the indus­try I was intro­duced to a con­cept at a roast­ers guild retreat:

In the cof­fee indus­try we rep­re­sent maybe the top 5% of the mar­ket. Thank good­ness for Starbucks because they are our mar­ket­ing depart­ment con­vert­ing peo­ple to the ‘spe­cialty’ mar­ket and for every 100 they turn, we get 5. If we all work together on qual­ity we can grow the 5 to 10 or 15 and there would be more busi­ness than we could want for every­body. The key is that we keep rais­ing the qual­ity level of everyone.”

I used to think about the above con­cept only in terms of the prod­ucts which MY COMPANY pro­duced but have come to see how short-sided that is. This is in part because the farm­ers are no longer name­less and face­less to me. I see them doing the same thing on their end of the sup­ply chain. They work hard to gain infor­ma­tion and to share that info with their neigh­bors and indus­try groups.

I think it is inter­est­ing that ‘first world’ cap­i­tal­ists get this con­cept eas­ily for them­selves but find it hard to extrap­o­late to the whole indus­try. They add value and expect to be rewarded, but often miss the larger forces at play. You need to strive to not only make your­self bet­ter, but also your sup­pli­ers, cus­tomers and even competitors.

To extrap­o­late that fur­ther:
•    Teach your cus­tomers what qual­ity cof­fee is and they will not only demand qual­ity for them­selves but they will tell their friends.
•    Ask for qual­ity prod­ucts from your sup­pli­ers and be will­ing to pay more for them and they will work harder to get you what you want. This can flow all the way to the farm if the sup­ply chain is edu­cated enough.
•    Also, be will­ing to tell your com­peti­tors where they can improve their prod­ucts. This will have them work­ing as a mar­ket­ing depart­ment WITH you as qual­ity ambas­sadors. The chances of them impact­ing your busi­ness neg­a­tively is very small, but the odds of mov­ing a larger part of the mar­ket from low or medium qual­ity cof­fee to your level is huge.

Let’s get back to why you should drink the hotel cof­fee. If you don’t care for the cof­fee, maybe you will talk to a man­ager about it. Maybe you won’t be the first one to do it. Maybe you can work a deal to sup­ply cof­fee that is 10 times bet­ter than what they have with only a slight increase in cost. And what if a major hotel chain were to say, “I think we can use this to get more busi­ness trav­el­ers to stay here.” Now they are think­ing about how qual­ity cof­fee can improve their business.

If one major hotel chain were to make this change, think of the impact on the indus­try and on your busi­ness. All of those trav­el­ers that have now started to appre­ci­ate bet­ter cof­fee. Even if it is not yours in the hotel room, there will be some per­cent­age that find your brand as they seek bet­ter cof­fee for them­selves. The per­cent­age of cus­tomers for high qual­ity cof­fee has gone up.

Bridging the Disconnect from Farmer to Roaster
If you are suc­cess­ful at increas­ing the ‘spe­cialty’ piece of the cof­fee pie, those great ingre­di­ents will be in tighter sup­ply. This is why you must also strive to work back­wards through your sup­ply chain and be able to tell folks what you want in order to main­tain the qual­ity of cof­fee you have promised to these new cus­tomers. This is not easy, but I want to give you some hope.

In my last few Q-Grader and R-Grader classes in pro­duc­ing coun­tries I have been for­tu­nate to have the entire sup­ply chain rep­re­sented in the same class. Grower, col­lec­tor, mill, exporter, importer, roaster and barista. This is amaz­ing to me that we all want to learn the same thing! We all want to do the same thing! Now we just need to increase the com­mu­ni­ca­tion. To accom­plish this I have some chal­lenges for you:

1)    If you have not taken a Q-Grader or R-Grader class yet, DO IT! This is the lan­guage that the indus­try uses to com­mu­ni­cate with one another.
2)    If you are a roaster, reach one level back from your importer. Don’t go around them; go with them. Ask to go to ori­gin with them. Ask them for a name of the mills they work with in a par­tic­u­lar coun­try. Learn a lit­tle more and start a dia­logue.
3)    If you are an importer, demand trans­parency fur­ther down the sup­ply chain and see if you can get to the farmer. Don’t go around your exporter or mill; go with them. Then intro­duce your roaster cus­tomers to them. This will build a stronger, longer last­ing bond and will not be a risk of being ‘cut out’ of the trans­ac­tion.
4)    If you are any­one read­ing this, drink the hotel cof­fee! This should get you ticked off enough to actu­ally fol­low through with one of the above chal­lenges. That’s why I drink it!

Rocky Rhodes is an 18 year cof­fee vet­eran, roaster, and Q-Grader Instructor, and his mis­sion now is to trans­form the cof­fee sup­ply chain and make sweep­ing dif­fer­ences in the lives of those that pro­duce the green cof­fee. Rocky can be reached at

The Last Mile

Categories: 2014, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

If you thought pump­kin spiced lattes were every­where this Halloween sea­son (which now appar­ently lasts two whole months), you weren’t see­ing ghosts.  They were can’t-miss every­where: Starbucks win­dows awash in orange and brown, other chains jump­ing on the gourd-themed band­wagon, and plenty of options for the DIY crowd at home.

I’m guess­ing you’re a purist like me, so let’s set aside what most of these autum­nal treats lack: any­thing remotely resem­bling pump­kin on the ingre­di­ents list.  And in too many instances, only the faintest hint of cof­fee; hope­fully, good cof­fee.  For me, the pump­kin spiced phe­nom­e­non is the lat­est, and per­haps most per­sua­sive evi­dence to date of Americans’ long­ing for new expe­ri­ences with cof­fee, and grow­ing open­ness to cof­fee as a superb, ver­sa­tile base ingredient.

As I’ve seen over many years devel­op­ing menu items for cafes that serve illy, beyond-the-ordinary spe­cialty drinks excite and delight guests, keep them com­ing back for more, build later-day traf­fic and health­ily boost mar­gins.  Open cus­tomers’ eyes to the pos­si­bil­i­ties beyond a pump or two of syrup, and the smiles will fol­low.  Smiles will also come to the faces of baris­tas and other staff, who will rejoice in express­ing their cre­ativ­ity and feel a deeper sense of con­tri­bu­tion to the busi­ness.  Not to men­tion, the R&D can be a blast.

Keep the inno­va­tion going and develop a pipeline of fun, orig­i­nal, seasonally-inspired treats. If you haven’t got­ten on board yet, the hol­i­day sea­son is the ideal time to turn up the heat, when caloric con­cerns are put on hold and the fes­tive mood invites indulging.

I’ve cre­ated upwards of 150 cof­fee drinks over the years, none more mem­o­rable than my first, and per­haps sim­plest prepa­ra­tion.  The key was start­ing with a pre­cise goal in mind, crit­i­cal to any culi­nary exper­i­men­ta­tion.  My objec­tive was to cre­ate a beau­ti­fully bal­anced, deli­cious iced espresso.  I was still liv­ing in Italy, so espresso was the only viable option.  I was grow­ing tired of the cold cof­fee served at bars (Italian for “cof­fee shop”), nearly always an unbal­anced, oxi­dized, nearly ran­cid liq­uid mixed with water and sugar, cooled over an overly long period of time in the fridge.

Identifying slow cool­ing as the main flavor-sapping cul­prit, I stole a page from the bartender’s play­book and filled most of a metal shaker with ice, tossed in a just-pulled dou­ble shot, stirred in a drop of water – about 10 per­cent of the drink’s total vol­ume – and a hint of sugar.  If it sounds Martini-like, you’re on the right path, with apolo­gies to the shaken-not-stirred lean­ings of a famous Mr. Bond.

I started exper­i­ment­ing with the whole gamut of ingre­di­ents, from usual sus­pects like choco­late and cocoa (albeit in a vari­ety forms) to wilder cards such as almond milk (the real thing, made with fresh almond paste from Sicily and water), coconut milk and water, ice creams, even jams and mar­malades.  And for later-day enjoy­ment, with a host of adult liba­tions, from vodka, to rum, tequila to whisky, cof­fee liqueurs, cream liqueurs, and many others.

All that recipe R&D paid off hand­somely when I got involved in barista com­pe­ti­tions, going up against and get­ting inspired by the profession’s mas­ters.  After five years on the cir­cuit, fully bat­tle tested, I won the Italian Barista Championship in 2008 thanks in part to “The Trinity,” with bev­er­age inven­tion shar­ing equal weight on the score­card with qual­ity of espresso pulling and cap­puc­cino mak­ing.  My idea was to cre­ate a three-layered drink that could show­case coffee’s basic tastes (thus, “Trinity”): a base layer of yogurt for acid­ity, a mid­dle strata of espresso for bit­ter­ness, and a top coat­ing of bit­ter and sweet from espresso kissed by a milk-persimmon foam.

Tips for the bud­ding bev­er­age builder?  To quote the Jedi Masters, “Use the Force.”  Start with an idea in mind and then let cre­ativ­ity carry you away.  Something rich in tex­ture?  More savory than sweet?  Coffee more promi­nent in taste and aroma, more in the back­ground?  Something ide­ally paired with sea­sonal food menu items?  Ponder those kinds of ques­tions and you’ll be on the right track.

There are some rules of thumb, espe­cially for adult bev­er­ages.  Espresso’s high con­cen­tra­tion of fla­vor in small quan­ti­ties of liq­uid make it the most ver­sa­tile ingre­di­ent for spe­cialty drinks.  And when prim­ing the pump, keep the coffee-to-syrup ratio at 1:1.  For brewed cof­fee, whether pour over, syphon, Chemex, or even stan­dard fil­tered drip, adjust that ratio to one ounce of liquor per six ounces of coffee.

In alcohol-laced cre­ations, keep the espresso-to-alcohol liq­uid vol­ume ration at a one-to-one max­i­mum, to keep the cof­fee taste preva­lent.  For drinks incor­po­rat­ing neu­tral spir­its like vodka, or with drier taste pro­files like tequila, use a touch of sim­ple syrup or a sweet fla­vored syrup like vanilla to bal­ance the rel­a­tively low sweet­ness of the cof­fee and spirit.

If it fits with your cul­ture, you can even get cus­tomers in on the act.  I helped run a cock­tail con­test for illy fans last year, out of which the delight­ful “Espressoda” emerged (10oz club soda, 0.5oz sim­ple syrup, 0.5oz vanilla syrup topped with a sin­gle shot of espresso, on the rocks), now resid­ing on the per­ma­nent menus of our part­ner cafes in San Francisco and else­where.  If you want to main­tain total con­trol, launch a cou­ple of new drinks of your own cre­ation and have cus­tomers lobby for which should stay on the menu. That should gen­er­ate a whole other kind of buzz!

Giorgio Milos is illy’s award-winning Master Barista and illy’s North American Barista in Residence who reg­u­larly ven­tures beyond the cup to study the biol­ogy and chem­istry of the cof­fee bean, con­tin­u­ally striv­ing to mas­ter the bev­er­age that is his pas­sion and profession.

& Sleeves — Coffee Shop Must-Haves!">Cups, Lids, & Sleeves — Coffee Shop Must-Haves!

Categories: 2013, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

It is inevitable that dis­pos­able cups, lids, sleeves, and other prod­ucts are an essen­tial tool for all cof­fee shops. Nowadays, the con­sumer cares about more than just their cof­fee, it is about the entire expe­ri­ence. Yes, cups, lids, sleeves, and other dis­pos­able prod­ucts are apart of that cof­fee shop experience.

According to, “Americans throw away 25 bil­lion Styrofoam cof­fee cups each year.” The dis­pos­able cup has become a part of cof­fee con­sumers’ every­day lives. In fact, dis­pos­able cups have more uses than just being a ves­sel to carry your cof­fee in. With san­i­ta­tion being a high pri­or­ity for all food facil­i­ties, the uti­liza­tion of dis­pos­able cups lessens the chances of being exposed to bac­te­ria. No one else has used that cup before you.

Cups and sleeves can be cus­tomized to spread your shop’s brand. Logos and cus­tom design can all be accom­mo­dated to what you want your shop being por­trayed as. Not to men­tion, dis­pos­able cups are less expen­sive than glass or ceramic cups. It costs far less to order a sin­gle paper cup than it would be to replace a bro­ken glass mug.

Below are a few com­pa­nies that you can uti­lize to bring your con­sumers an excel­lent cof­fee shop experience.

arthritisliduVu Technologies
uVu Technologies uti­lizes its tal­ents and ana­lyt­ics’ team skill set to cre­ate food and bev­er­age pack­ag­ing solu­tions. This results in far supe­rior, safer cup lids and dis­pos­able prod­ucts, while rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing method­olo­gies in which many dis­pos­able prod­ucts are actu­ally formed. Therefore result­ing in incred­i­ble mate­r­ial sav­ing, cost sav­ing, and reduc­tion in the pro­duc­tion of defec­tive final parts.

Stefan Ebert, Marketing and Sales Manager of uVu Technologies says, “If a shop isn’t con­cerned about its employee and cus­tomer safety, then the uVu lid may not be right for it.”

Stalk Market LogoStalkmarket (Asean Corporation)
This com­pany sells a com­plete line of sin­gle and dou­ble wall insu­lated cups, lids, and jack­ets, all of which are 100 per­cent com­postable, BPI cer­ti­fied, and all made from renew­able plant materials.

Shops uti­liz­ing Stalkmarket prod­ucts are able to demon­strate to their cus­tomers that they are mak­ing the effort towards sus­tain­abil­ity and being more pro-active in their sus­tain­abil­ity efforts than some of the large chains.

President of Stalkmarket, Buzz Chandler, gives a piece of advice, “Local neigh­bor­hood shops are the back­bone of the cof­fee roast­ing indus­try.   Be a leader in your own way.   Don’t worry about the Mega Coffee chains.   Big is not a syn­onym for bet­ter.  Follow your own path.”

Versalite Ad_Coffee Talk_FinalBerry Plastics Corporation
Berry Plastics sells a full line of cups, lids, and pack­ag­ing to meet the needs of their food­ser­vice cus­tomers. They man­u­fac­ture both dis­pos­able and sou­venir drink­ing cups. Their cups are sold into con­ve­nience store, QSR, casual din­ing dis­tri­b­u­tion, and sta­dium and arena markets.

Our lat­est inno­va­tion, Versalite™, pro­vides advanced, durable hot and cold pack­ag­ing solu­tions that have the poten­tial to increase cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and oper­a­tional effi­cien­cies,” says Foodservice Product Line Manager, Lauren Piekos.

Java Jacket 2Java Jacket
Java Jacket aims to bring the best sleeves at afford­able prices. The com­pany takes pride in their envi­ron­men­tally con­scious ways. They attempt to elim­i­nate exces­sive paper waste and dou­ble cup­ping. Not to men­tion, they empha­size using recy­clable and com­postable, post-consumer paper.

Their cup sleeves are avail­able in two dif­fer­ent sizes and the waf­fle tex­ture of the sleeve pro­vides “grip abil­ity.” While they do offer stock prints, Java Jacket also offers cus­tom print­ing on both white or nat­ural kraft paper in up to six col­ors. Water-based inks are used in their print­ing techniques.

PBFYFlexiblePackaging0314Plastic Bags For You
PBFY car­ries a wide array of dis­pos­able cof­fee pack­ag­ing from foil bags, flat pouches, stand up pouches, and pouches with side gus­sets. Stand up pouches are offered in an assort­ment of col­ors, sizes, mate­ri­als, and styles. These include foil and poly, met­al­ized, win­dowed, and rice paper pouches.

According to their web­site, “The inno­v­a­tive design of these bags max­i­mizes how your prod­ucts are dis­played, while effi­ciently tak­ing up less space.”

These dis­pos­able cof­fee bags are also infused with a one-way degassing valve. The valve is a neces­sity for all pack­aged cof­fee beans. It keeps the cof­fee fresh, and it keeps the pack­age sealed tight and not allows air back into the package.

High-Definition and full-color prints on Visstun’s dis­pos­able paper cups allows for the addi­tion of ALL of your shop’s mar­ket­ing needs. You can print far beyond just your logo. The cups are printed on heavy-duty paper­board to ensure your cups remain sturdy when filled with cof­fee or tea.

They say, “With a dis­pos­able cup, it is crit­i­cal that the pro­mo­tion makes a great first impres­sion.” Make an impres­sion with these cups at your shop, for events, meet­ings, and other events!

Visstun also offers paper cups for your shops snacks as well. You can brand var­i­ous size cups and fill them with your customer’s favorite snacks!

Reach your tar­get mar­ket with a unique and cre­ative way to adver­tise. BriteVision offers not only café own­ers a way to pro­mote their busi­ness even after con­sumers leave the shop, but allows adver­tis­ers to print their mar­ket­ing buzz upon cof­fee sleeves. Their capa­bil­i­ties enable your cup sleeve mes­sage to stay fresh and keep a last­ing impact through­out the year.

BriteVision is a lead­ing media com­pany that invented cup sleeve adver­tis­ing. With mag­a­zine qual­ity print­ing, low min­i­mum orders, fast pro­duc­tion times, and eco-friendly sleeves, there is some­thing for every shop!

Disposable cups, lids, sleeves, and other prod­ucts are all items that all cof­fee shops uti­lize. They are a great way to brand your shop, and by uti­liz­ing the newest tech­nolo­gies, you can keep your cus­tomers safe and happy. Many com­pa­nies now are offer­ing envi­ron­men­tally friendly prod­ucts to meet the needs of var­i­ous consumers

With these prod­ucts being such a big part of the cof­fee shop atmos­phere, why not make them more valu­able and use­ful by cus­tomiz­ing them to empha­size your shop? Brand your shop and make your dis­pos­able prod­ucts stand out from the rest.

Safety is in the Seal
by Stefan Ebert

As more and more indi­vid­u­als are becom­ing injured by unin­tended spills of hot cof­fee due to the cup’s lid, the indus­try called for a safer lid. uVu Technologies aimed to do just that. The uVu lid with pro­pri­etary seal­ing fea­ture is both intu­itive and secure. By pro­vid­ing con­sumers with safer lids, they know that their bev­er­age will stay inside the cup, instead of on their hands or on their lap. This is a huge con­cern for many cof­fee shops, as it could result in dis­sat­is­fied cus­tomers or even lawsuits.

Tony Cervini, COO of Big Apple Bagels/My Duet/My Favorite Muffin (158 stores world-wide), calls it the “best lid in the whole world” and cites com­plete cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion with the user experience.

As we firmly believe, and Tony con­firms, to the cus­tomer a cup is a cup, but ask any cus­tomer about their expe­ri­ence with today’s state of the art lids and you will get a moun­tain of bad (and some­times angry) retorts con­cern­ing the over­whelm­ingly neg­a­tive expe­ri­ences redound across the industry:

The lid pops off all the time!”

The lid spilled all over my laptop!”

The lid ruined my work clothes.”

I was burned when the lid popped off.”  (This story was related to our team by a barista who had to be hos­pi­tal­ized for a week in upstate Michigan).

The cus­tomer wears their cof­fee all over them.”  (This story was told to our team by a store man­ager who, on a daily basis, watched her cus­tomers walk out of the store car­ry­ing a cup of cof­fee while wear­ing gloves, only to see the lid pop off and cof­fee splat­ter all over the customer’s win­ter coat.”).

Just as seri­ous are the litany of civil actions mounted on the basis of hot cof­fee spills, most recently in the mat­ter of Cary v. McDonalds (BC-53250)(Los Angeles Superior Court, Jan. 7, 2014). The Plaintiff alleged per­sonal injury when she was handed a cup of cof­fee at the drive-thru con­tain­ing a lid that was “neg­li­gently placed on the cup in such a way that the lid did not stay on the cup and came off, allow­ing hot cof­fee to spill on Ms. Cary caus­ing her severe per­sonal injury.”    A sim­ple “Google search” will reveal scores of other sim­i­lar per­sonal injury complaints.

We have deter­mined that the inher­ent defect in most hot bev­er­age lids today lies in the fail­ure to cor­rect the method in which a lid seals to a cup.  We have solved this prob­lem and, as the mar­ket shows, our prod­uct is meet­ing rave reviews.  We are com­pletely con­fi­dent that our prod­uct is safer than any other lid and can be a huge asset for any busi­ness as both a mes­sage that they truly care for their customer’s safety, but also as a brand­ing tool for their own business.


NAMA Emerging Leaders">NAMA Emerging Leaders

Categories: 2014, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Michael Kelley
Territory Account Manager
Quality Brokerage, Inc.

Completed NAMA’S Executive Development Program
Tri-State Vending Association Board of Director
Emerging Leaders Network

1. What are the skills you use most in your career?
The skill I use most would be com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Effective com­mu­ni­ca­tion is one of the most impor­tant and uti­lized skills in busi­ness. As a Brokerage Firm we have mul­ti­ple points of con­tact, from the man­u­fac­turer, to the dis­trib­u­tor, to the cus­tomer. A key role is to estab­lish direct com­mu­ni­ca­tion between all chan­nels. Additional skills I rou­tinely use would be flex­i­bil­ity, adapt­abil­ity, and man­ag­ing mul­ti­ple pri­or­i­ties. Having the abil­ity to man­age mul­ti­ple assign­ments and tasks and set pri­or­i­ties has proven to be a key skill set impor­tant in an indus­try that is always adapt­ing and changing.

2. How did you get into the vend­ing and refresh­ment ser­vices busi­ness?
In my teenage years, Lou Pace, who is the owner of Quality Brokerage, was then the man­ager of my base­ball team. There I was intro­duced to his son, Lou Pace Jr., who is now more of a brother than a friend. As Louie and I grew up we began work­ing in his father’s busi­ness, pack­ing sam­ple bags, order­ing sam­ples, assist­ing with order place­ment and help­ing pre­pare for trade shows. As Louie and I devel­oped a great work­ing rela­tion­ship, an Account Manager posi­tion opened at Quality Brokerage. Lou Jr. sug­gested to his father to give me the oppor­tu­nity to fill it. I have grate­fully been a part of the Quality Brokerage team for seven years.

3. Give us an idea of your role and key respon­si­bil­i­ties
My role at Quality Brokerage is to man­age sales and busi­ness devel­op­ment. As a Territory Account Manager in the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, I have the respon­si­bil­ity to meet with the vend­ing and OCS oper­a­tors and con­nect them with the prod­ucts and ser­vices of the man­u­fac­tur­ers we rep­re­sent. As a man­u­fac­tur­ers’ part­ner, we are respon­si­ble for hav­ing con­sis­tent and effi­cient call cov­er­age in our ter­ri­tory while pro­vid­ing the oper­a­tors with cat­e­gory man­age­ment infor­ma­tion, Plan-o-Gram assis­tance, as well as rebate and pro­mo­tional pro­grams to max­i­mize sales. Also new item intro­duc­tions and fol­low up are key responsibilities.

4. What does an aver­age day for you include?
Every day brings new oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges, so again I must be ready to adapt and change to make sure I am pro­vid­ing my cus­tomers with the ser­vices they require. Similar to an oper­a­tor, my day also revolves around my clients. Saturday is my day to pack all of my sam­ple bags, run my cus­tomer reports, and to make sure I have all of my rebates, pro­mo­tions, and pre-book order sheets in order to review with the oper­a­tors dur­ing the week. Once my week begins I travel by car to intro­duce my prod­ucts in face-to-face meet­ings with the key deci­sion makers.

5. What are the biggest chal­lenges you face in your busi­ness?
Legislation and reg­u­la­tions are the biggest chal­lenges we face as an indus­try. It impacts all of our busi­nesses. That is why it is so impor­tant to sup­port your local State Council and NAMA, who both con­tinue to bat­tle these issues on a daily basis.

6. Moving for­ward, what are your personal/professional goals?
Moving for­ward, my per­sonal and pro­fes­sional goals coin­cide. I aim to pro­vide the excel­lent ser­vice and atten­tion my cus­tomers have become accus­tomed to, while exceed­ing our company’s goals and high stan­dards. I would also like to con­tinue to be an asset to my local State Council to ensure the growth and suc­cess of our industry.

7. In your own words, what is the value of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ELN?
The value of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Emerging Leaders Network is that it pro­vides an oppor­tu­nity and launch­ing pad for the industry’s up and com­ing and to make their mark and help shape our indus­try for the future! The ELN is a hub for young lead­ers with sim­i­lar goals seek­ing best prac­tices, pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment, and peer net­work­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, while hav­ing the knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence of trusted men­tors. Being part of a tech-savvy gen­er­a­tion dri­ven by pas­sion, com­mit­ment, and inno­va­tion, I am excited for where our indus­try is headed, and I am look­ing for­ward to being part of an orga­ni­za­tion that is mak­ing the nec­es­sary steps to uti­lize the com­mon­al­i­ties between the mul­ti­ple generations.

8. What is your advice for young peo­ple start­ing their careers in the indus­try?
Get involved with NAMA and your local State Organizations. Network, build rela­tion­ships, be con­fi­dent, and show your pas­sion. Continue your edu­ca­tion through NAMA’s var­i­ous sem­i­nars and pro­grams, such as the Executive Development Program.

As pre­vi­ously pub­lished in NAMA’s InTouch Magazine.

Retailer/Roaster Profile

Categories: 2014, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Hi! I am in my home coun­try of Russia in beau­ti­ful Saint Petersburg. Yay! It is still quite hard to find a good cup of cof­fee around here; you usu­ally have to travel across the city for it. It isn’t Seattle with inde­pen­dent cof­fee shops on every cor­ner and hip­sters paint­ing the scene, but very slowly it is get­ting there. There is one place you can count on to get a good fix – Bolshe Coffee! “Bolshe” means “more” in Russian, so More Coffee! Nice sim­ple name, ah? It is also located in a grot. How cool is that? I had a chat with the owner – Nicholas Gotko. Listen up:

V. Please tell us about the cof­fee scene in Saint Petersburg. I have noticed lots of cof­fee shop chains, but not so many inde­pen­dent cof­fee shops around.
G. I believe this year to be the best so far for inde­pen­dent cof­fee shops in Saint Petersburg, and I think that this inter­est will only keep grow­ing until we have enough neigh­bor­hood cof­fee shops to serve all of the locals on every street and cor­ner. Right now, many have to travel far to get a good qual­ity cup in a friendly, relaxed envi­ron­ment. Just in the past year, my team, which includes me, my wife Zoya, and Nicholas and Tatyana Yarlanskie, man­aged to open five inde­pen­dent cof­fee shops. All of these shops have dif­fer­ent names, themes, and carry a local char­ac­ter. Meaning, they are meant pri­mar­ily for clients study­ing and work­ing nearby.

V. I am sure that many of our read­ers are very inter­ested to know more about the specifics of doing busi­ness in Russia. I know that west­ern­ers have that idea that the mafia still rules the streets here, and you also have to have a sig­nif­i­cant startup cap­i­tal to do any kind of busi­ness. Is it so?
G. The mafia isn’t really here any­more, at least not in small busi­ness. It is eas­ier to open your own busi­ness now; no one helps, but at the same time no one inter­feres too much. We didn’t have sig­nif­i­cant startup cap­i­tals; nei­ther did we have rich par­ent spon­sors. We got together with my part­ners, took out some loans, and started work­ing. We real­ized that it would be naïve to com­pete with giant fran­chises. So we decided to play by our own rules. We decided to sell a high qual­ity prod­uct for a lower than mar­ket price, even though we have a dif­fer­ent stan­dard of prepa­ra­tion. For our cof­fee we use a por­tion of 18 – 20 grams instead of the reg­u­lar six to nine grams. In addi­tion to that, our lever cof­fee machines intro­duce a com­pletely dif­fer­ent level for the Russian market.

V. Your spot is cool! A grot sounds like a great fit for a cof­fee shop. Did you have to intro­duce sig­nif­i­cant changes to the place’s archi­tec­ture before you opened?
G. A search for the per­fect place took almost six months. In the end, we got the grot! Until we got the place, the grot was empty for about three years. There were some ques­tion­able beer places here pre­vi­ously, and that is why when we got here, every­thing was pretty beaten up. We had to redo many things using our own hands. We got help for very chal­leng­ing tasks only; break­ing some walls, chang­ing electrics, and prepar­ing every­thing for a paint job. Overall, con­struc­tion and prepa­ra­tion to open took us about a month, so every­thing went pretty quickly. We didn’t change place’s archi­tec­ture, we decided to work with what we had and fit in organ­i­cally. Many believe that a major­ity of your busi­ness expenses should be spent on the inte­rior, but we believe that equip­ment and prod­uct are more impor­tant than fancy walls.

V. Did you get into cof­fee busi­ness right from the begin­ning of your pro­fes­sional career?
G. Before I opened my shops, for almost 10 years I worked as an engi­neer in big cof­fee com­pany, and my part­ner Nicholas was a vice pres­i­dent in a roast­ing com­pany. In the mean time, we also par­tic­i­pated in barista cham­pi­onships and even judged some of them. We are still judges in cham­pi­onships orga­nized by the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). It is a very pres­ti­gious title in cof­fee world. To become a judge, one must take up a really hard exam that lasts four days, and only if passed prop­erly, you would receive an offi­cial cer­tifi­cate. Plus, you have to recon­firm that cer­tifi­cate every two years.
The idea of open­ing our own shops was in our heads for a long time before we started to act on it. The first talk about it was about three or four years ago, but we were too busy with cur­rent work at a time, until finally about a year ago, we started Bolshe Coffee!

V. So what is your secret, why peo­ple love you so much?
G. When we first thought about open­ing up a shop, we had dif­fer­ent vari­ants of what the final result would be. We decided not to play by the rules: we decided to offer excel­lent, some­times even rare cof­fee for an afford­able price. Basically, instead of mak­ing an uptight place with high prices (of which there are many in Russia), we waned to cre­ate a space where every­one has the oppor­tu­nity to drink great cof­fee for a com­fort­able price.

We suc­ceeded in our orig­i­nal task of not to cre­ate a flash that would appear and then blow out. Rather, we cre­ated a place that would become a part of the city’s leg­end that every­one would know about. Our places have con­stant move­ment, action, and life in them. It is really impor­tant for our clients to feel our pres­ence and that we care once inside our shops. We have the envi­ron­ment where one can be com­fort­able and you don’t have to pre­tend that you are some­one else. We com­mu­ni­cate this mes­sage to our clients very clearly. We have peo­ple in expen­sive suites next to sporty clients in shorts. We have mates with dogs and lit­tle chil­dren roam­ing around freely. Our envi­ron­ment is so easy­go­ing. “I want cof­fee and I go get it at Bolshe!” We made it sim­ple as that in Saint Petersburg.

V. Any advice to other busi­ness own­ers like you in both Russia and other coun­tries?
G. I would say learn to con­trol your fears. Our biggest fear was that we weren’t sure if the Russian men­tal­ity would halt our progress – “if some­thing is cheap, then it must be bad.” However, every­thing actu­ally turned out to be great! It was more of a pleas­ant shock for our clients, they were con­fused, “Why is every­thing is so good and why does it cost so lit­tle?!” We love our cus­tomers, and we try to show it in the ways I described ear­lier.
Since we men­tioned fear though, I would say that fear is a good thing! However, it has to be the kind of fear that is moti­va­tional, the one that makes you want to keep going fur­ther, even though you are scared. This kind of fear makes you more care­ful about the qual­ity of your job. Lastly, I would like to add my most impor­tant advice: “Do your job well, and you won’t run away from success!

Bolshe Coffee!

Alexandrovsky Park 3-G,
Saint Petersburg, 197101
Nicholas Gotko

Marketing Miracles

Categories: 2014, FebruaryTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

The term “mar­ket­ing mir­a­cles” is mirac­u­lous for mar­ket­ing pur­poses. I get it. And for those who are not aware of it, the best sell­ing book, Marketing Miracles, by Dan S. Kennedy is full of prac­ti­cal ideas, espe­cially for those in sales.

But, there is noth­ing mirac­u­lous about mar­ket­ing, or to be more pre­cise, mar­ket­ing mir­a­cles. That term is just an odd oxy­moron for me.

Why? Because while mar­ket­ing can result in an amaz­ing or unusual event, the word “mir­a­cle” implies that super­nat­ural forces out­side of our mor­tal con­trol gen­er­ate mir­a­cles. Or, per­haps the word sig­nals that an unex­pected and sur­pris­ing result occurred, pos­si­bly exceed­ing our expec­ta­tions because of some­thing not planned.

Marketing that achieves goals and ful­fills the needs of the cus­tomer is thought­ful and delib­er­ate, or at least it should be. As the English author, Sir Terry Pratchett, wrote, “Just because you can explain it doesn’t mean it’s not still a miracle.”

In this inau­gural arti­cle I want to put forth the prin­ci­ples that guide how mar­ket­ing mir­a­cles hap­pen. Because even if some­one just by chance stum­bled into a mar­ket­ing mir­a­cle and can’t explain how it hap­pened, my money is on the fact that one of the fol­low­ing five prin­ci­ples was in play.

1. Our deci­sions as humans have both ratio­nal and emo­tional com­po­nents. Coffee is not just a prod­uct with its attrib­utes of taste, smell, smooth­ness, caf­feine, etc.; it deliv­ers an expe­ri­ence. We con­sume cof­fee because of its prod­uct ben­e­fits, and these ben­e­fits ful­fill pow­er­ful emo­tional needs such as social­iz­ing, being pro­duc­tive, reduc­ing stress, and even ful­fill­ing the desire for rou­tine.
Application: Align the ben­e­fits of your prod­uct with con­sumer ben­e­fits; per­suade by rea­son, moti­vate by emotion.

2. Perceptions and expe­ri­ences with prod­ucts, ser­vices, or brands have both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive dimen­sions. These per­cep­tions will vary by your audi­ence and by loy­alty. A few years ago research was con­ducted on a national cof­fee­house brand, and it revealed a strongly neg­a­tive per­cep­tion among infre­quent cof­fee drinkers that its prod­uct had a bit­ter taste because of its roast pro­file. Despite hav­ing a wide selec­tion of other choices and a strong, core loyal audi­ence, the learn­ing led to this com­pany launch­ing a blonde roast in order to con­vince these per­suad­able con­sumers to try a cup.
Application: Leverage your pos­i­tives and neu­tral­ize your neg­a­tives; know your loy­alty continuüm.

3. The choices we make are affected by the con­text in which they are made. Everyday we make deci­sions and we are pre­sented with choices. In the cof­fee cat­e­gory, these choices and deci­sions are made within day parts, occa­sions, loca­tions, our per­sonal needs, influ­ences from oth­ers, and a host of other fac­tors.
Application: Market your brand to match the con­text or sit­u­a­tion in which it is used or could be used.

4. Marketing and how we think about prod­ucts is not lin­ear. A con­sumer can go from being aware of your prod­uct to being loyal, even if they are not famil­iar with it. For exam­ple, how many peo­ple do you know always vote Democrat or Republican, but can they really explain why they are so loyal to these “brands”? Perhaps not all of them can do so, which demon­strates that they do not lin­early move along some mag­i­cal fun­nel from aware­ness to com­mit­ment. We see this often in cof­fee as well, where because of taste pro­files or geo­graphic pride, many peo­ple are loyal to cer­tain brands despite not know­ing that much about them.
Application: Brands must quickly engage across mul­ti­ple touch points and channels.

5. A mar­ket­ing strat­egy is only as good as its results. Marketing should ful­fill some larger objec­tive and goal. Not all mar­ket­ing cam­paigns are geared toward sales. Rather, some­times the objec­tive is to raise aware­ness. But even­tu­ally, that aware­ness should land sales and ulti­mately drive the busi­ness goal.
Application: Measure results to con­firm suc­cess and guide future efforts.

I believe in mir­a­cles. After 45 years of dis­ci­pline, reg­i­men­ta­tion, and edu­ca­tion from Jesuit priests, Holy Cross broth­ers, and St. Joseph sis­ters, you can trust that I believe in mir­a­cles. But even mir­a­cles, and mar­ket­ing mir­a­cles, hap­pen for a rea­son. The prin­ci­ples detailed in this arti­cle shed light on how you the reader can cause a mir­a­cle in marketing.

In future arti­cles, we’ll use these prin­ci­ples and this frame­work to go in depth and illu­mi­nate how peo­ple, prod­ucts, ser­vices, and brands made mar­ket­ing mir­a­cles happen.

Mike Dabadie is the founder of Heart+Mind Strategies, LLC, a research con­sul­tancy that con­tin­ues to pio­neer the use of personal-values insights and mar­ket­ing. He can be reached at

The Last Mile

Categories: 2014, FebruaryTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

As cliché as it may sound, cof­fee is in my blood.   Some of my ear­li­est and warmest mem­o­ries are of my grandmother’s kitchen, a well-worn moka pot gen­tly bub­bling (which I would later dis­cover isn’t a good thing!) on the stove, fill­ing the room with rich and famil­iar aro­mas.  My mother Silva worked her entire career in qual­ity con­trol at illy Caffé’s head­quar­ters in Trieste, the Adriatic port city in north­east­ern Italy where cof­fee first entered Europe in the 16th cen­tury.  Coffee was all around me, and I loved it.  Therefore, becom­ing a barista was the nat­ural thing to do, and a deci­sion that pays rewards every sin­gle day; with every stu­dent who learns to cre­ate that per­fect espresso, rich crema beau­ti­fully intact, and every smile on the faces of cof­fee lovers, their tongues painted with a lit­tle some­thing that brings pure pleasure.

I was hon­ored when the owner of CoffeeTalk invited me to con­tribute a recur­ring col­umn that gives the barista’s point of view on our indus­try.   This kind of reg­u­lar voice is vital in America; where baris­tas don’t enjoy the pro­fes­sional stand­ing that baristi do in my home coun­try, even though they have become a part of every­day life, every­where, from cut­ting edge down­towns to sub­ur­ban malls.

I’ve spent almost four years as illy’s Master Barista for North America. The expe­ri­ence has been ener­giz­ing.  For one, I’ve gained immense appre­ci­a­tion and respect for the pas­sion­ate com­mu­nity of baris­tas, café own­ers, hos­pi­tal­ity exec­u­tives, and oth­ers who make up the cof­fee pro­fes­sion in this coun­try.  There is an incred­i­ble desire to learn, inno­vate, delight, and take the craft of cof­fee to a higher place.  It is a spirit that is last felt in my coun­try in the 1930s and 1940s, when Italian-engineered refine­ments to espresso mak­ing (some pio­neered by my company’s founder, Francesco Illy) gave rise to an era of rapid inno­va­tion and growth.  You can find excel­lent cof­fee through­out much of Italy, a kind of birthright, like great burg­ers here in the United States, but you don’t find the energy that comes with, what might be called, the “young adult­hood” phase that cof­fee in the U.S. is in today.

Illy brought me to the U.S. for rea­sons that explain this column’s title: mak­ing sure that our coffee’s very last, most crit­i­cal, trans­for­ma­tional steps are han­dled prop­erly.   My com­pany is mani­a­cal (in the best of ways) about opti­miz­ing qual­ity at every link along the cof­fee chain.  We pur­chase beans directly from farm­ers on four con­ti­nents who meet our high stan­dards for qual­ity, many of whom we edu­cate on sus­tain­able agro­nom­i­cal and busi­ness prac­tices; teach and finan­cially sup­port ecologically-responsible pro­cess­ing, like the semi-washed method that we helped revive; roast and per­form more than 100 qual­ity checks at our one plant in Trieste; and pack­age our cof­fee with inert gas to pro­long its freshness.

But none of it is any good if prepa­ra­tion is sub­par, if that last mile isn’t walked in the right shoes.  My main mis­sion is to spread barista best prac­tices, if you will, to make sure that every whole bean ground, every shot pulled, every Chemex poured, and every cof­fee drink cre­ated does jus­tice to every step that came before and cre­ates plea­sure in the cup.  I spend about half of my days on the road, vis­it­ing illy accounts of all vari­eties, from major resorts to cor­ner cafes, diag­nos­ing equip­ment, gaug­ing knowl­edge, con­duct­ing on-site train­ing, and teach­ing cof­fee bev­er­age cre­ation that con­nects the dots from what hap­pens at the farm to the cup right in front of us.  The idea is to pro­vide a big­ger pic­ture of the under­stand­ing of cof­fee that puts into con­text every detail and action behind the bar, and indeed help baris­tas, man­agers, and own­ers see why no detail is too small.

My goal is to bring that phi­los­o­phy to life in ways that mat­ter for loyal read­ers of CoffeeTalk.  Whether you are a roaster, an equip­ment man­u­fac­turer, logis­ti­cian, dis­trib­u­tor, or café owner, I hope that see­ing the world through a barista’s eye can help inform deci­sion mak­ing, inspire inno­va­tion, or sim­ply pro­vide an occa­sional thought worth clip­ping and keeping.

Topics will be as wide-ranging as cof­fee itself.   One issue may bring prac­ti­cal advice on prin­ci­ples of bev­er­age cre­ation; the next, could be a bigger-picture take on the indus­try itself.   I’ll write about dynamic baris­tas and other pro­fes­sion­als that I meet on the road and at home in New York, with inspir­ing sto­ries to share.  And I won’t shy away from tak­ing a stand.  (Sneak pre­view: play­ing around with the clas­sic for­mula for espresso prepa­ra­tion: not always a good idea!)

I look for­ward to your com­ments and opin­ions, and I invite you to fol­low me on Twitter (@Giorgio_Milos) and at

Giorgio Milos is illy’s award-winning Master Barista and illy’s North American Barista in Residence who reg­u­larly ven­tures beyond the cup to study the biol­ogy and chem­istry of the cof­fee bean, con­tin­u­ally striv­ing to mas­ter the bev­er­age that is his pas­sion and profession.

On the Shoulders of Giants

Categories: 2014, FebruaryTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

How do you com­pete with giants in the super­mar­ket cof­fee aisle?
Phil Johnson learned that les­son early on in his career.  In doing so, he brought gourmet cof­fee into the nation’s gro­cery stores and turned a loss leader item into a qual­ity profit producer.

The Early Years
Johnson grew up the old­est of three chil­dren in Everett, Washington.  After high school, he went to work at the nearby Scott Paper Company in the ship­ping depart­ment.  “I couldn’t afford col­lege at the time,” Johnson said, “So the Army made sense. The Army taught me dis­ci­pline, lead­er­ship, respon­si­bil­ity, and con­vinced me that I had inner reserves.”

After ser­vice, First Lieutenant Johnson moved back to Everett and started work­ing for The Boeing Company on the first 747.  While he rec­og­nized the high qual­ity prod­uct that they were pro­duc­ing, he was not sat­is­fied with the lack of oppor­tu­nity to be rewarded for indi­vid­ual achieve­ment in the work­place.  With a strong work ethic, he felt that if he worked smarter and harder than the oth­ers, then he should be rewarded in kind.

From this real­iza­tion, he knew he wanted some­thing more. Johnson’s cousin told him to con­sider sales.  “Phil,” he said, “you look good, and you’ve got the gift of gab.  In sales, you can get an expense account and car allowance.”

Getting a Start
Johnson started his con­sumer prod­uct sales career with Scott Paper and stayed with them for four years.  He then went to work for Liggett & Myers Tobacco in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, but he was asked to move fre­quently and longed to return to Everett.

Johnson explained that his cousin, who talked him into sales in the first place, then hired him into the gro­cery whole­sale busi­ness.  He worked for his cousin and then later decided to open his own food bro­ker­age business.

The busi­ness did not work, but fail­ing became a great teacher,” Johnson said.  “When the busi­ness fal­tered, one of my clients, Good Host Foods, offered me a job sell­ing cof­fee to restau­rants.”  Johnson’s life moved in a new direction.

A New Opportunity
Back in the late 70’s when Johnson started work­ing for Good Host Foods, there was vir­tu­ally no gourmet cof­fee at the super­mar­ket level.  Good Host’s main busi­ness was insti­tu­tional cof­fee.   Johnson wanted to get back involved in con­sumer prod­uct sales at the retail level by tak­ing Good Host prod­ucts and putting them into the retail stores; but how could he com­pete with the major national brands and the strong west coast regional brands?

Our com­pany offered spe­cialty cof­fees and sold it to spe­cialty stores in 100 pound bags, so I asked myself, ‘How can gourmet brands com­pete in a pre-packaged mar­ket­place?’” Johnson said.

While research­ing the cof­fee aisle, he phys­i­cally ran into a Hoodie nut dis­play unit and the light bulb went off.  Coffee could flow through grav­ity fed dis­penser bins, the con­sumer could see the prod­uct, smell the prod­uct, and if the dis­play unit was built prop­erly, they could grind the prod­uct in the store to take home.

Johnson thought it was the only way he could com­pete and at the same time offer con­sumers a gourmet cof­fee prod­uct that hereto­fore was only avail­able in spe­cialty stores.

Millstone Coffee was Born
After a cou­ple of years, Good Host elected to sell their only US branch, giv­ing Johnson the oppor­tu­nity to acquire from them the retail gourmet cof­fee busi­ness that he suc­cess­fully devel­oped for them.  In 1981 he acquired the busi­ness, renamed it Millstone Coffee, and a new busi­ness was born.

Johnson was sure there was a cer­tain por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion that, if a gourmet cof­fee prod­uct were offered in a super­mar­ket set­ting, sales would increase for the retailer and pro­vide them with a profit mar­gin that they weren’t receiv­ing on national branded cof­fees, a prod­uct that had pre­vi­ously been a loss-leaders.

The premise was that Millstone would sup­ply and main­tain the equip­ment at the store level, deliver the prod­uct at the store level, mer­chan­dise the prod­uct, keep the dis­play unit clean, and ensure that the prod­uct was fresh.  The only thing the retailer had to do was check the prod­uct in at the back door and check the prod­uct out to the con­sumer at the front door at a healthy profit.

From Millstone Coffee to Cascade Coffee
Millstone Coffee rode the spe­cialty cof­fee wave from 1981 to 1995 when Johnson sold the com­pany to Proctor & Gamble.  At that time, the com­pany was national in scope and was grow­ing at about 30 per­cent per year.  Upon sell­ing the busi­ness to P&G, Johnson cre­ated Cascade Coffee and sold por­tions of it to his employ­ees, who then ran the com­pany.  They signed a con­tract with P&G to pro­duce prod­uct for them, and today, Cascade Coffee employs approx­i­mately 200 peo­ple and roasts cof­fee for some of the largest cof­fee com­pa­nies in the United States.

In the early years of Cascade’s devel­op­ment, Johnson stepped away from the busi­ness, learned how to grow cof­fee in Kona, and in the last few years, Johnson has rejoined the busi­ness, reunit­ing with the tal­ented core team he attrib­utes to the suc­cess of Millstone Coffee. Much to his delight, his son and his wife have joined the group in mak­ing Cascade Coffee one of the pre­mière con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ers in the country.

Johnson’s entry into the gourmet cof­fee busi­ness at the retail level led many con­sumers to dis­cover the won­der­ful bev­er­age of gourmet cof­fee.  The cat­e­gory has changed dra­mat­i­cally since the incep­tion of Johnson’s idea back in 1979.  The con­sumer is now used to gourmet cof­fee and accepts it in a ground, pre-pack form that is read­ily avail­able in super­mar­kets, in many vari­eties from many dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers.  Where in the early and mid-90’s, a super­mar­ket would have eight to 16 feet of bulk dis­penser units, they now have eight to 16 feet of pre-packed gourmet cof­fee.  The busi­ness con­tin­ues to evolve with the advent of sin­gle serve cof­fee that is still in its infancy.

Through it all, Cascade Coffee’s com­mit­ment to qual­ity and ser­vice keep them on the lead­ing edge of a still grow­ing industry.

Phil Johnson, Founder Millstone Coffee, CEO, Cascade Coffee, Inc.

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