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Need Advice on Selling to Coffee Shops

expat

New member
May 1, 2012
430
1
Ireland
It looks like today is the day for me to post sales questions. So besides the earlier question about selling in to the U.S. market I've got a two-part question about selling to coffee shops that I think is fairly universal.

Our business is mainly retail coffee. We sell to supermarkets and foodie stores at wholesale. They turn around and sell to their customers at retail. Simple. The customers who buy our coffee, let's say our Buzz Bomb blend, love the coffee and when they come back next week they want to buy another bag of Buzz Bomb. They know what they like and don't want adventure (like when you buy a Coke you want it to taste just like the last Coke you drank).

Over time I've been approached by coffee shops who drank our retail coffee and wanted to serve our brand in their shop. What I've noticed is that these people loosely fall into two categories -- 'coffee adventurers' and 'good cuppa joe' folks.

The coffee adventurer is never satisfied. They drink a cup, say 'wow, that is fantastic' and then after a week or so of serving that great coffee to their customers they get bored and want the next rock star coffee. I appreciate these people's passion and knowledge (they usually know a lot more about coffee than me) but it is a big challenge to keep them happy. And when you try to do so you soon have 15 high dollar, micro-lot bags of coffee from Australia, Malawi, Rawanda, Peru, PNG, Yemen, Mexico, China, etc., etc., that you've only gone through 20 kg of before the coffee adventurer gets bored and wants to move on to their next coffee orgasm. Oh, and then they tell you that they've started buying from not one, but three of your competitors because they are in to multiple orgasms with multiple partners. Of course this cuts out half or more of the volume of coffee you were selling to the adventurer and it just ain't worth it. At least I don't think it is. Maybe you see an opportunity that I don't but I've started avoiding these guys like the plague. Tell me if I'm wrong.

Now I strictly look for the good cuppa joe coffee shop. This is the guy who knows that about 95% of his customers just want a really good cup of coffee. They don't want adventure, they want dependability. So it may be a bit boring to sell to these folks but much less stressful. And much more profitable.

Now here's my question about the good cuppa joe guy. Unless they are unhappy with the coffee they are serving they aren't too inclined to switch. In fact when I talk with these folks that's one of the first things I ask them -- Are you happy with the coffee you have now? Because if the answer is YES it is tough to talk a guy out of being happy so that possibly he can be happier. I'm looking for the guy who isn't that happy because he's inclined to give us a try. So is there any secret, beyond knocking on a lot of doors, to finding the people who aren't happy? Any sales techniques or short-cuts you find effective that you might like to share?
 
Last edited:

chast

New member
Jul 30, 2006
659
1
MA
"Now I strictly look for the good cuppa joe coffee shop. This is the guy who knows that about 95% of his customers just want a really good cup of coffee. They don't want adventure, they want dependability. So it may be a bit boring to sell to these folks but much less stressful. And much more profitable."

My way of thinking exactly! I gave up bowing to people's requests for certain beans! To many roasters out there that they can order from if they want the 48.00 per lb stock!! I keep 7 countries on hand that are either sold as a single or a blend and the shops that purchase from us are happy with the consistency. Might purchase a microlot just to try and experiment with and I advertise it as a very limited roast. If they do not like what I have to offer then they can move on
 

topher

Super Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2003
3,796
29
Boca Raton
Wholesale is not a fun biz. I have to agree with both of you and stick with the cuppa joe lot...unless your adventures are willing to pay a premium for your orgasmic coffee of the week. Don't be surprised if they are willing to pay the higher prices though. I have seen people out there selling for upwards of $20 wholesale.
 

Razzo

New member
Apr 8, 2011
13
0
Expat;



I have learned in my short time in the coffee business that you have to give your customers what they want. I once roasted a Costa Rican coffee had loads of citrus and floral notes. The owner of the shop I sold to had me replace it as he did not like it. I roasted the same coffee to just before 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] crack and all was well. I have found in New England the buyers tend to like the Centrals and South American’s the most with a good solid medium roast. I can’t give Kenyans, Rwandans and Burundi’s away but they like Ethiopians. Sumatrans do OK too. . I will take the good cup o joe customers anyday!


It looks like today is the day for me to post sales questions. So besides the earlier question about selling in to the U.S. market I've got a two-part question about selling to coffee shops that I think is fairly universal.

Our business is mainly retail coffee. We sell to supermarkets and foodie stores at wholesale. They turn around and sell to their customers at retail. Simple. The customers who buy our coffee, let's say our Buzz Bomb blend, love the coffee and when they come back next week they want to buy another bag of Buzz Bomb. They know what they like and don't want adventure (like when you buy a Coke you want it to taste just like the last Coke you drank).

Over time I've been approached by coffee shops who drank our retail coffee and wanted to serve our brand in their shop. What I've noticed is that these people loosely fall into two categories -- 'coffee adventurers' and 'good cuppa joe' folks.

The coffee adventurer is never satisfied. They drink a cup, say 'wow, that is fantastic' and then after a week or so of serving that great coffee to their customers they get bored and want the next rock star coffee. I appreciate these people's passion and knowledge (they usually know a lot more about coffee than me) but it is a big challenge to keep them happy. And when you try to do so you soon have 15 high dollar, micro-lot bags of coffee from Australia, Malawi, Rawanda, Peru, PNG, Yemen, Mexico, China, etc., etc., that you've only gone through 20 kg of before the coffee adventurer gets bored and wants to move on to their next coffee orgasm. Oh, and then they tell you that they've started buying from not one, but three of your competitors because they are in to multiple orgasms with multiple partners. Of course this cuts out half or more of the volume of coffee you were selling to the adventurer and it just ain't worth it. At least I don't think it is. Maybe you see an opportunity that I don't but I've started avoiding these guys like the plague. Tell me if I'm wrong.

Now I strictly look for the good cuppa joe coffee shop. This is the guy who knows that about 95% of his customers just want a really good cup of coffee. They don't want adventure, they want dependability. So it may be a bit boring to sell to these folks but much less stressful. And much more profitable.

Now here's my question about the good cuppa joe guy. Unless they are unhappy with the coffee they are serving they aren't too inclined to switch. In fact when I talk with these folks that's one of the first things I ask them -- Are you happy with the coffee you have now? Because if the answer is YES it is tough to talk a guy out of being happy so that possibly he can be happier. I'm looking for the guy who isn't that happy because he's inclined to give us a try. So is there any secret, beyond knocking on a lot of doors, to finding the people who aren't happy? Any sales techniques or short-cuts you find effective that you might like to share?
 

ensoluna

Banned
Apr 29, 2014
2,823
1
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
perhaps I can give you some input from the green coffee exporter's point.

half of my customers are strictly green bean importers (& they sell to roasters). the other half is Big roasters (such as Klatch in LA / Zoka in Seattle / Veneziano in Australia...etc)
Their 95% of buying is for espresso blend coffee (Robusta from India/Brazil & some good Arabica from other countries), but 5% of buying is specialty/micro lot coffees.

they told me that they need micro lots to advertise their company & market their brands to sell. Also many members within that company compete actively in Barista / Cupping / Latte art..etc competition to bring in as many awards as possible.. again for future marketing purpose.

As example, in USA, Kia korean car company came out with $60K plus luxury car in US market. that is all they advertise on T.V. hiring Lebron James as the Kia spokes person, .. etc. however, I doubt that they are selling those cars at all. 99.99% will be regular Kia brands of cars.
 

JCF

New member
Nov 11, 2014
36
0
It looks like today is the day for me to post sales questions. So besides the earlier question about selling in to the U.S. market I've got a two-part question about selling to coffee shops that I think is fairly universal.

Our business is mainly retail coffee. We sell to supermarkets and foodie stores at wholesale. They turn around and sell to their customers at retail. Simple. The customers who buy our coffee, let's say our Buzz Bomb blend, love the coffee and when they come back next week they want to buy another bag of Buzz Bomb. They know what they like and don't want adventure (like when you buy a Coke you want it to taste just like the last Coke you drank).

Over time I've been approached by coffee shops who drank our retail coffee and wanted to serve our brand in their shop. What I've noticed is that these people loosely fall into two categories -- 'coffee adventurers' and 'good cuppa joe' folks.

The coffee adventurer is never satisfied. They drink a cup, say 'wow, that is fantastic' and then after a week or so of serving that great coffee to their customers they get bored and want the next rock star coffee. I appreciate these people's passion and knowledge (they usually know a lot more about coffee than me) but it is a big challenge to keep them happy. And when you try to do so you soon have 15 high dollar, micro-lot bags of coffee from Australia, Malawi, Rawanda, Peru, PNG, Yemen, Mexico, China, etc., etc., that you've only gone through 20 kg of before the coffee adventurer gets bored and wants to move on to their next coffee orgasm. Oh, and then they tell you that they've started buying from not one, but three of your competitors because they are in to multiple orgasms with multiple partners. Of course this cuts out half or more of the volume of coffee you were selling to the adventurer and it just ain't worth it. At least I don't think it is. Maybe you see an opportunity that I don't but I've started avoiding these guys like the plague. Tell me if I'm wrong.

Now I strictly look for the good cuppa joe coffee shop. This is the guy who knows that about 95% of his customers just want a really good cup of coffee. They don't want adventure, they want dependability. So it may be a bit boring to sell to these folks but much less stressful. And much more profitable.

Now here's my question about the good cuppa joe guy. Unless they are unhappy with the coffee they are serving they aren't too inclined to switch. In fact when I talk with these folks that's one of the first things I ask them -- Are you happy with the coffee you have now? Because if the answer is YES it is tough to talk a guy out of being happy so that possibly he can be happier. I'm looking for the guy who isn't that happy because he's inclined to give us a try. So is there any secret, beyond knocking on a lot of doors, to finding the people who aren't happy? Any sales techniques or short-cuts you find effective that you might like to share?

I think that the "Good Cuppa Joe Guy" will always respond to a Better Price, with same or improved Quality, with the same or improved Service on account. Price, Quality, Service, are always realiable attention getters.
 

JohnD18

New member
Jan 5, 2015
145
0
New York
I feel like, though the "good cuppa joe" demand will always be around, and will always demand a consistent supply, there is a growing market for these super specialty coffees, and that demand is going to grow considerably in the next few years. Take a look at Starbucks right now, they're rolling out this new "Reserve" line of coffees, and they're pricing some of them as high as $30/lb. From Starbucks... They're phrasing it "Small batch roasted" and creating awareness for what everyone in here does. Business owners who want to offer that and compete in Starbuck's arena are going to be looking for a supplier. Perhaps a pain in the butt to juggle the trends but if it's done right I think there will be a growing demand for such things.

Blue Bottle just raised over 25 Million for expansion, and this is what they're all about.
 
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