"Sorry No Cream & Sugar" Signage

caffe biscotto

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Jan 18, 2008
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I'm serving coffee from an air pot at a local farmers market and so far, very few have questioned my not providing creams, half n half, sugar, splenda, etc. I usually tell them we don't offer those, that the coffee is fresh roasted locally and is an excellent complement to our biscotti products. Only one lady decided against a cup, due to not having cream, so I gave her a 1/2 cup as a sample. I watched her walking around the market, sipping it until it was all gone. LOL.

My roaster is well known in this area and even supplied me with their branded 8oz coffee cups to use, and at $1 per cup of coffee, I think it's reasonable to not have to please everyone.

Anyway, I was wondering what others may be using in terms of signage, that explains briefly or in detail, why they don't offer side condiments with their coffee.

I realize that most of you do offer these things, but even so, do you have any recommendations?

An example might be:

Sorry, No Cream & Sugar
We do this because we feel that
this coffee is a better complement
to our biscotti its pure state

Would this suffice?
 

cindy

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Feb 8, 2005
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Hi biscotto....
i reckon your sign is fine...but im curious...what are peoples immediate reaction when they ask for cream or sugar?...besides the lady that drank the bit you gave her anyway....lol

Ive had people moan when i dont sprinkle enough chocolate or cinnamon ontop of something, i cant imagine the hassles i would get with no sugar or cream.
 
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caffe biscotto

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The people at the farmers market are just glad that there is actually someone serving coffee there. I've attended this particular market for over a decade (not with my current business though), and no one has ever offered beverages.

I've only taken coffee to the market twice now and there has been a good response to it, especially from the other vendors. It's summer here now, so I expect an even better reception, once the weather cools up a bit. I think my best customers will be the other vendors. LOL.

So, I hesitate to come across as trying to "school" anyone about coffee there. It's simply that I believe it complements our other products more so in its natural state.

Thanks Cindy!
 

PinkRose

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Feb 28, 2008
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Near Philadelphia, PA
Hey, Cafe Biscotto....

It wouldn't hurt to give your sign idea a try, as long as you realize that there is a strong possibility that you will come across like you're trying to school people about how to drink their coffee.

You're trying to get them interested in your biscotti. Is it possible that teaching them about coffee will be a bit much for the average person at a farmer's market, and it will distract them from your biscotti sales?

You and I have gone 'round and 'round about the cream and sugar concept, and you know I'm in favor of having those condiments available for those who want them.

Based on the samples that you sent me to try, your biscotti has a distinctive crunch to it, which may lead a person to want to dunk it in their coffee. As you know, there is an art to dunking biscotti in coffee, and from what I've been seeing, many people like to dunk it in coffee that has cream and sugar in it, especially if that's what they're used to.

Just a thought, my friend.....

Rose
 

PinkRose

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Or another sign idea could be:


Black coffee goes great with our biscotti.
Give it a try!


Keep it positive and it won't feel like you're schooling them.

Rose
 

shadow745

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Aug 15, 2005
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Central North Carolina
In the store we have those that "must" load the coffee down with cream, sugar and syrups. They usually don't give it a chance and just assume they need to add something. Like a regular that tells me he likes his coffee dark, Charbux French Roast and then he loads it down with teaspoons of sugar and half-n-half. He needs something darker than normal just to cut through all the crap he puts in it. Most people don't know what coffee truly tastes like and most should give it a chance. Later!
 
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caffe biscotto

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Actually, at the farmers market, I get a different type of crowd. The people there are looking for fresh, locally produced items. I currently have the only bakery there, although some of the vendors have baked goods, that they produce at their farm store kitchens.

There's a McD's and a supermarket nearby they could go to, but they want something special. I also don't want to deal with the temperature regulations the health inspectors put on dairy creamers. I'd have to bring an ice bucket with a thermometer to make sure it stays at or below 42 degrees the whole day. Sugar, ha, there's enough sugar in the baked goods to keep the diet conscious folks away from adding even more calories to their coffee. This way, they can "cheat" a little, without going overboard.

It's like how they provide salty snacks at the bar. The pretzels make you crave more beer and vice versa, lol.

No, I do not want to come across as trying to teach people about coffee at all. I should not have used the word "hesitate". I'm no coffee expert and I wouldn't want that to overshadow the other products that I am known for, you're right.

I think I am doing justice to my roaster's coffee and even told them I wouldn't be offering cream & sugar. Neither do they with their samples. They believe their coffee is best enjoyed without it anyway.
 

Black Dog

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I"m a coffee roaster who in addition to selling wholesale, direct retail and mail order, also participates in several farmers markets a week.
I offer free samples (4oz) at the markets and free cups (12oz) to fellow vendors. I always offer cream and sugar for customers to doctor it up the way they would at home. I generally recommend they try it black first and then add whatever they like. It seems to work well and helps me sell more bags o' beans.

Since you're selling biscotti your situation is different than mine but I've decided against selling by the cup at the market even though occasionally a customer will seem irritated that they see a coffee booth but can't buy a cup. Being a roaster and not a shop I make a living selling my roasted coffee and that's what I'm there for. I've been back and forth on the 'by the cup' issue and have come to several conclusions. First, since most of the markets I work don't have power available I have to brew airpots in my shop and carry them to the market. Not ideal for freshness but seems to work OK for sampling. Anyway, with sampling I only need 2-3 airpots depending on traffic flow at each market. If I'm selling by the cup I need much more. That adds a good bit more prep time for me or my other market workers early in the morning. I've sold 12oz cups for as much as $1.50 and even at that it hasn't proven profitable for me. When I calculate the cost of coffee, spring water, cup, lid, sleeve, creamer, sugar and labor for prep time it's not really worth it. Plus, if I don't sell all that I brewed it gets dumped out. As I mentioned, I make my living by selling roasted coffee. It takes as long to sell a cup with it's minimal profit as it does to sell one or more bags of coffee.

More importantly for me there is another phenomenon I've noticed. When I'm selling by the cup I sell less bags of coffee. I think it's the psychology. A customer comes by the booth, buys a 1.50 cup of coffee, feels like they've supported that vendor and moves on. Also, when buying just a cup the customers seem less inclined to linger and learn about just what we do, fresh roasting and all that. They seem to just want to get their cup and go.
When I'm doing samples only, the customer is enticed into the booth by a free sample, stays to listen and learn, likes the sample and buys one or more bags of coffee (more profit dollars for me than a cup of coffee). Then they're hooked and come back every week to re-supply.
So, in my case sampling works much better than selling cups. And providing cream and sugar for the samples seems to make people happy because they can fix it the way they do at home if they choose to.
Incidentally, I use the little single serve half&half containers. I keep them in a lunchbox size cooler with a flip-up access lid and keep them cool with gelpacks. Sugar and sugar substitutes (also individual serving packs) are kept in convenience store/restaurant style trays that have flip-up clear plastic lids. I have identical set-ups for all my helpers to use at their markets. I've never had a problem from the health inspectors.
 
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caffe biscotto

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Black Dog, thank you for the info. It does require additional effort in the morning, just to offer coffee as a side item at the market. Considering I only sold four cups yesterday, I definitely need a new strategy. I sold roughly 100 biscotti for every one cup of coffee! LOL.

I like your logic. It makes me now consider the 4oz cup free samples idea. If it's free, they may feel more comfortable staying for awhile. Especially if I provide a small trash can for their cups. So far, only two people have asked for a cup, then declined once they saw no cream was available. They gladly accepted and drank the free sample I gave them anyway.

Having a bakery, the inspectors tend to ride me a little harder about food safety issues, more so I think than they would a coffee roaster. I could totally see my local inspector sticking a thermometer into the container for the creamer. She's a tough one, who goes by the book on everything.

So, because coffee isn't my main focus right now, perhaps I should go the free sample route, as also my local roaster does. But they use 8oz cups, I should try to use 4oz only. Thing is, if I do it once, the customers will always expect that free sample and if I ever decide to charge, they may become grumpy, LOL. It will be a good draw though and they couldn't complain about there being no cream sugar, if the coffee sample is free. I could change my little "No Cream & Sugar" sign to a big "FREE COFFEE SAMPLES" sign. What a crowd that will draw, when the weather cools up a bit. :)
 

shadow745

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Aug 15, 2005
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Central North Carolina
Well you guys have great ideas. My opinion is that no matter what you do you will never please everybody. There are always those grumpy buttholes that have something to complain about no matter what.

Like I stated before in another post, I'd like people to try the coffee black before adding anything to it. They assume it will need something added to it based on what they've had other places and nothing could be further from the truth.

We have given free samples (1-2 oz) of smoothies and that has paid off on hot days. I also pull those interested in our beans a double shot here and there if they show enough interest and have sold several 12-16 oz. bags of beans that way. Most customers appreciate a little effort like that, but there are some that take advantage of the situation. Later!
 

PinkRose

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Feb 28, 2008
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Hi Cafe Biscotto.

I like the sample coffee idea. Are you going to give it a try?

When you go back to selling the 8 oz cups of coffee, the little creamers called Mini Moos, which don't need to be refrigerated, may help solve the creamer problem. I doubt that your local Health Inspector would hassle you about not refrigerating them. At least you'd have something available for those customers who wanted them. You'd only need to bring a bunch in a zip lock bag or maybe find a cute container to match your display.

Rose
 
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caffe biscotto

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My grandma used to say "Some people's children". Meaning it's the parents' fault to begin with, for spoiling their children. The kids grow up and expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter.

I'm the son of a US Marine, in which case, I learned not to be choosy. If someone doesn't have what I need, I find a way to make due with what there is and don't complain. If my customers don't like my coffee how I serve it, they don't have to buy it. I wouldn't say that to any of my customers of course. Ha, I would be asking for a punch in the d#8k then, lol.

I think a courteous sign will be fine. I get suggestions from people every day on how to run my business and you know, it's usually from people who haven't got a clue as to what it takes to run a business. When I can interest more than four people in a day to buy coffee, I will then consider stocking creamers & sugar packets & such. For now, I'm just a small bakery, hoping to add a little something more coffee-related.

Rant over. I feel better now, thanks.
 
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