For me, it's always been about "the coffee", and that's a great way to go, but it's not just about the customer coming and getting coffee, it's about them having the time to appreciate and understand what they are getting. We're in a hectic world, and as coffee professionals we should change our business model(s) to cultivate an atmosphere that will entice customers to slow down and enjoy.
But how do we convince them that we have something worth taking time for?
How do we approach this idea?
Gone should be the long queues of impatient people wanting to grab their coffee and go. Excellence needs patience. More owners should make the move to focus on the experience of their in house customers rather than focusing on numbers through the door. As long as we cater to impatience, we will never adequately convey what coffee has to offer.
In terms of design, do away with the tacky "coffeeshop" look. No more Starbuckian browns and tans, nor should we be too avant garde with bright neon walls. Simple colors. Clean lines. Refined and/or casual. When the customer opens the door they should know that a different experience awaits them.
It's not just about the customer slowing down and enjoying the coffee, it's about the barista slowing down and enjoying the process of making it. It goes without saying that all drinks, whether coffee or espresso, should be made by the cup.
Think of coffee as a dish, not as merely a beverage. In fact, it's the main dish, and everything that accompanies it is a side item. As such, guests should be seated and put at ease, simple one-sided menus given, options quickly explained, and after a few minutes, orders taken. A lot can change with customer behavior and customer expectations when the standard chalkboard menus and extended queues are a thing of the past.
We need to be cautious about service. Unobtrusive and casual, but providing support and answering questions when necessary. In order to elevate the experience and have the opportunity for the customers to see and appreciate what is happening, this is the direction we need to move.