Specialty Coffee: An Industry Enveloped In Complexity
When was the last time you were asked what your favorite music genre was and answered with anything other than a short list of bands and artists? We're willing to bet the answer is: never.
The same goes for most food and drink lovers. When we think about our favorite things to eat and drink we don't just blindly go along with what's popular or what's trending - we have specific tastes, flavors and experiences that we look for, usually based on where they come from. We have favorite restaurants, chefs and ingredients because we know what to expect from them.
Specialty coffee is no different but there are still plenty of people that don't realize it. If you were to ask someone that loves specialty coffee to tell you their favorite origin, chances are, they'd stare at you blankly for a bit before saying something like: "I'm not sure - I just really love coffee." or "I'm not really into frou-frou coffee."
It's not that they don't care; they simply don't know enough about it yet.
As an industry, specialty coffee has done a pretty good job at getting consumers interested in trying new things when it comes to flavor profiles but has done a poor job at educating consumers about the differences between origins, varietals, processing methods and even roast profiles.
If you were to ask the average person that consumes specialty coffee to tell you the difference between a Colombian, Ethiopian or Guatemalan you'd most likely be in for a pleasant surprise - most would have almost nothing to say. And, we're talking about the single most marketed point of difference in specialty coffee and yet, to most people it means nothing.
As a market and consumer behavioral analyst who specializes in specialty coffee marketing, I know that small batch roasters have an unprecedented opportunity to lead the transition to specialty coffee by educating consumers on what it's all about—and doing so in ways that make people want to tune in and participate.