May 5, 2017

The Journey of a Coffee Drinker

By Kevin Chilvers

I first met Cafe Culture Magazine Publisher Sean Edwards at Toby’s Estate, Chippendale. I was a relative newby to the cafe industry and ordered a cappuccino – Sean ordered a piccolo latte – I’d never heard of a piccolo latte at the time. It sounded a little bit special. I don’t think I’ve had a cappuccino since that day. Fifteen years on, I can now proudly boast that I am a piccolo and filter coffee lover. It took many years of palate development and adjustment to arrive at this point and to really appreciate what I’m drinking.

As coffee professionals, we are the leaders, which puts us in a position where we are also the trend setters and tasting coffee in ways which is well beyond what is currently mainstream. I see that many baristas chastise consumers for their coffee choices … However, understanding where the consumer is at on their coffee journey will enable the barista to guide the consumer and to not put up a road block, stalling the journey or potentially just sending them to frequent another café.

“I want a 12 oz latte with three sugars served at 75 degrees.”

Don’t chastise the 12 oz latte consumer who puts three sugars in each cup; don’t tell the soy consumer to have it black. Think more about what other options the consumer may appreciate at this stage on their coffee journey. The reward is fantastic for all involved.

Once the consumer starts to appreciate drinking piccolo style coffees, they are really tasting the coffee … It’s the equivalent of a menu explosion, and it’s time to start offering the full gamut of black coffees, including single origin tastings and dabbling in various brews, including long blacks, filter, espresso and cold drip.

Work with the consumer on a pace that works for them, and avoid stalling the coffee journey. When you feel they are ready to progress, be forward by offering your suggested brew. Maybe offer a taster of a cold drip or batch brew to complement the piccolo.

What is a piccolo latte:
• A small latte
• 4 oz coffee beverage
• Piccolo latte drinkers are serious coffee drinkers

No point giving an espresso to the 12 oz latte consumer, but once you’ve worked with the consumer enough and they are drinking piccolos, they’re coffee consumers.

As a business owner, this is where you need to make the choice:
• Do you offer everything that any customer who walks in the door wants or
• Do you take a stance that you only serve your coffees in set formats

I’ll leave that decision to you, as there is merit in both. In one way you open up your business to a larger target market and on the other hand, you restrict but focus on delivering the cellar door coffee experience.

Listen to your customers, excel in what you offer them, and work together in narrowing the gap between what you and your customers are drinking.

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