OK... Own up... Who sells flavored beans?

AJPRATT

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Atlantic City, NJ
I know this has been discussed in the past, but I am curious who sells the flavored beans?

I am NOT a fan of selling this. And, I am personally not a fan of flavored coffee at all, but a gal's gotta pay her rent. However, I fear I may have a high demand for it in my area, based on a number of businesses and people I have met. There is a coffee business in the next county that people travel to, just to buy those flavored beans and many have expressed their joy that I will be closer.

So, do you sell them and if you do how do you store/display them?
 

John P

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Anne,

If you state you are "not a fan" of said product how can you consider selling them anyways? Every flavor, every offering, every product should meet YOUR standards. If not, then who's running your business? Business choices by "popular vote" or by the "well it will make me money" really won't serve you in the long run.
People will buy X if it's convenient, but if someplace more convenient offers X then what do you have? I would rather offer something people go out of their way for. Differentiate.
 
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AJPRATT

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I am weighing your input heavily. Just kind of thinking outloud: I have not made the decision either way about flavored beans. I wouldn't say that I hate them, it just not my favorite thing--I guess because I really haven't had one I liked. It isn't my preference, but neither is decaf, syrup drinks, or smoothies, but I don't think it means I shouldn't offer it.

I agree with you, that I do have a standard, and whatever I feature I want it to be a quality product.

Sometimes its tough to convey your thoughts in a posting... I wasn't neccesarily saying that because I would be more convenient and I would take anyone's business (although it does read like that). I meant it more to convey that I am realizing that there is a demand for it, and its what some are expecting. I can always set myself apart because any bean I sell won't be sitting in a glass candy jar for months like at the other store.

Of course the final decision on what we sell is ours but isn't it important to take demand into consideration? And, for survival-sake, would it be better to sell a lot of quality something that I don't personally care for or a little of something I love?

I would love to hear what your further thoughts are. :grin:
 

lizzy

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neither do I like or sell the flavored beans. my shop hasn't gotten into selling our beans yet, only a lb here and there as a favor to a customer who is going out of town or something. I wouldn't like to grind or brew the flavored stuff, I think it leaves it's flavor everywhere. I don't think I'd add it to a roast either. Perhaps if we were selling other roaster's beans, I'd sell it. There is a coffee that is very popular and people ask about it often. called Pinon coffee. I think there is a flavor they add, but the big deal is pinon nuts are added to the coffee beans. I just direct people to a gift shop down the street if they ask about flavored coffees and pinon coffee.
 

topher

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50 % of our sales are flavored coffee. I am not a "fan" either but the way I look at it is that it is a doorway drug. When I started in the coffee biz I started with drinking flavored coffee...reason? I could understand what I was drinking if it said chocolate I tasted chocolate..I got burnt out on them pretty quick. I then started drinking regulars and started to really taste the coffees. I say sell the flavors but also educate your customers offer free samples of different coffees....just my 2 cents.
 
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AJPRATT

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Thanks, guys!


John, I do hope you realize that I wasn't "sassing" you. I really welcome differing opinions--it's how we learn, right?
 
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AJPRATT

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Just in talking with some others in the industry, I don't like the idea of spraying chemicals on the beans. If there was a natural way to flavor them, I might go for ir but I think I might just skip it and leave the flavored beans to the place a few towns over.

John, would love to hear your thoughts.
 

macdata

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The roaster that i work for sells flavored beans.

We have a retail area where the beans are stored in a 2 gallon jar, 7 gallon jar, or wooden barrel lined with a heavy duty plastic liner. The flavors that sell better are stored in a larger container and most of the flavors get refilled every few days. We also have a few half and one pound white paper tin tie kraft bags of the better sellers on the shelf.

For wholesale customers we sell five and two pound vacuum seal bags with a one-way valve that lets the gas out. We also have a private label program that sells half and one pound vacuum seal bags with a custom label on the bag.

I like the flavored coffee myself. Right now my favorites are French Silk Cheesecake and the Coconut flavors. I'm not much of a fan of the Chocolate and Hazelnut flavors but i do like Cookie Doodle. :)

I know that we use high quality flavoring oils but what exactly is in them?? ... i'm not sure.
 

morrisn

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We do not sell flavored beans ourselves. If you do decide to sell them you will require a seperate grinder for them. The oils that you use to flavor them penetrates the plastic plarts in the grinder and you will never get it out and it will affect your non flavored beans. We will not grind any beans other than our own, you never know what a customer will bring in.
 

John P

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Beans are naturally flavored... unless you intend to sell crap. Those who do sell flavored beans may run a good business, but it has nothing to do with quality coffee. There's a HUGE difference.

<Mini rant>The same type of mindset would not care whether they sold their coffee whole bean or ground, they would sell whatever coffee was on their shelves regardless of how long it was out of the roaster, they would do primarily bulk drip coffee and/or really bad espresso on a machine they bought (new) for $4K and the only training they would have would be from the machine salesman. This, unfortunately represents about 90% of the coffee business. Still, many owners really don't care about coffee, they just want a "cool place to hang out and have a cup of coffee" rather than centering their business around the coffee/espresso they center it around the gimmick (low prices, cool chairs, bands, nifty artwork, naked barista, etc.) <end Mini rant>

An extremely short list:
Ethiopia Yirgacheffe -- Lemon, bright citrus
Brazil Cerrado - Chocolate and Marzipan
(many) Kenyan AA -- bright and or muted fruit (date, fig, plum OR berry, black currant, spice)

Specific farm/estate coffees:
Ethiopian Idido Misty Valley -- sweet mango, peach, lemon
El Salvador Monte Leon -- sweet baked pear and spice
Honduras Pacamara -Santa Marta-- cinnamon and sweet hazelnut
Costa Rica La Manita Tarrazu -- Peach, Vanilla, Apple, sweet florals
Panama Carmen Estate - Cherry peach apple.
Yemen Mokha Matari -- deep spice and dark chocolate

Point is coffee has over 800+ components inherent in coffee which work together to create wonderful flavors. If you want to claim anything about being quality at all, then let the coffee speak for itself. Source quality, properly roasted Single Origin and Estate/Regional coffees. Brew it properly [melitta, press, Clover] (no drip coffee), do regular cuppings, and no one would ever venture to ask for that low quality flavored crap.

The bar is set so low on coffee that by doing only what should be the minimum will put you in the top 10 percent. Hone your skills and source very select coffees, encourage whole bean only sales, never sell anything older than 1 week out of the roaster, etc. And (if you're doing it) understand all the ins and outs of espresso, freshness, grind, dosing, distribution, temperature, tamping, flow, extraction rate, extraction time, proper volume, machine cleanliness and maintenance, proper milk texturing, proper milk temperature.... etc. Along with understanding flow, efficient design, COGS, labor, utilizing low cost lighting, not wasting product, etc... running the business end well too,
and you will put yourself in the top 5%.

Do THESE kinds of things AND continue to learn by studying, practicing, tasting various coffees, visiting various shops, attending conferences, tasting and testing and more of the same... and you will put yourself in the top 1-2%.... but most don't have the patience, think about money first, sell an inferior product and try to convince everyone that it's quality, and most people, serving crap themselves, believe it is quality.

For me, success is determined by what's in the cup, and how much trouble will someone go to have it. Will they drive an hour for your coffee/espresso? Will they plan their vacation around it? Will they fly in? It's not possible to fail while running a Quality based business-- in ALL aspects of your business, and continuing to raise the bar as you learn more, and can do more. Hundreds fail every year because of low quality business skills, low quality product, low quality marketing, and/or poor location. There are many business models to choose from to achieve success, but choosing one that excludes or feigns quality should not be one of them.
 
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AJPRATT

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Hi, John... Thanks for your insight. I wish I was coming out your way! Based on what you have said, I bet you have a first class operation!

I would love to run an elite operation. And, I wouldn't mind selling something flavored, if there was a way to do it without adding chemicals to the bean. Plus, it doesn't seem economical to have to buy extra equipment just for the flavored beans.
 

John P

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Anne,

I think you're heading on the right track, but seem to be tempted by the dark side.

You do understand my point that most coffee isn't just "coffee" flavored.
It goes down to sourcing, cupping, proper roasting. You can't find a better cup than a washed Yirg lightly roasted, or the intense blueberry notes you get from a good Harrar. And if you get farm/estate specific coffees you will see a world of difference. A Brazil Fazenda Araras will have distinct orange milk chocolate and dark chocolate flavors while a Brazil Cachoeira Estate will have cocoa and marzipan flavors---and both hail from the Cerrado region of Brazil. There's difference between a DP and a WP Sidamo as well.

I can't see any logical reason why anyone who cares about coffee, even a little, would sell beans that you ADD flavor to. All the flavors are already there. Why appeal to the LCD?

Some owners might say, "Well I do $3K a month in flavored beans and...." And the unsuspecting plebian who buys it would as soon buy it somewhere else if it's more convenient.

I don't care to be a place of convenience. We're small, but only a handful of caffe/coffeeshops in the US operate on our level of quality. I'm happy that people will drive an hour in the snow just to have our coffee, or schedule their vacation route just to stop and have espresso, etc... There are already enough average (read low quality) coffee shops, what the industry needs is more owners, barista, farmers, etc. caring about a quality product. Stay away from the Dark Roast, be a Coffee Jedi. 8)
 

topher

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I do not use "crap" for my flavor base. If you use crap to start off with all you have is crap with flavor on it. Like I have said in the past it is a doorway drug. $3 k a month? Come on if we were only doing that I would have to find a new job. Are you saying that since I sell flavored coffee we are less passionate and less focused on quality? I think not. You need to supply the customer with what they want.
 

CCafe

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Des Moines, Iowa
I sat and debated for 10 minutes whether or not to even write this post.

JohnP I understand exactly where you are coming from and I can see you are truly a coffee aficionado.

But I don't agree with you on flavoring coffee. I don't like flavored coffee, but that is my personal preference. My father in-law loves Chocolate-Raspberry and I usually have it made with Kenya or Columbian. He doesn't like it made with Costa Rican. Heck he didn't even like Costa Rican by itself. He will drink most kinds of coffee including espresso. Who am I to tell him he should be drinking.

For the hardcore coffee shops that refuse to sell flavored coffee because it takes away from the experience, I like to tell them they should also remove the syrup line they use for latte's. Its only natural that you should want to experience the full richness of the espresso in the latte without any flavored syrup killing off that taste. But they say its not the same thing adding syrup to a latte versus flavoring coffee.

I agree with topher completely just because we offer flavored coffee doesn't make us less passionate for coffee.

I like my cigars and red wine. I went in to a cigar shop a few days ago to pick up some more Romeo & Juliet Vintage Cigars and I notice they were selling Swisher Sweets. The same kind you can find at the gas station. When I asked why in the world would you carry such a thing the reply was simply "because some people like to smoke them". Then I realized that theres nothing wrong with that.
 
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