I’m talking about coffee bags. What did you think I was talking about? The song by Joe Nichols?
This has been an enduring debate here at the roastery. It was something we didn’t give a lot of thought to in the beginning; we rolled out the company offering retail put-ups in half and full pounds. That’s how people buy coffee, right?
Well, I can tell you that half pounds have turned out to be a royal PITA (look it up in Urban Dictionary). So much so that after careful consideration we have been phasing them out. So full pounds are the answer, right? I’m not convinced.
Many of our customers like the fact that we offer full pounds. There is something viscerally satisfying about buying coffee in one pound increments. It smacks of value. It’s how we are mentally calibrated.
Then how come hardly anyone else does it? Most of the coffees offered in supermarkets, specialty stores, and by our competitors are in quantities other than one pound. The most popular put-up seems to be 12 ounces, but 10 ounces seems popular, too.
One answer is that they are trying to pull a fast one on you. This is the conventional wisdom among customers who seem to have a strong preference for one pound retail put-ups. I would argue it’s more complicated than that.
It seems like most users (with a few exceptions – you know who you are!) consume less than a pound per week. So smaller put-ups make sense. They can spend less per transaction to get enough to use for a period of time that it will remain fresh. They can buy two 12-ounce put-ups that will last about two weeks.
So the question is, should we switch from 16 to 12-ounce put-ups? We want your opinions.
Assume that you will pay just a fraction more on a per pound basis to account for the fact that we use the same bag for a 12 oz as we do for a 16 oz put-up. Think of 16 oz as being equal to 100%. Obviously 12 oz is 75% of that. So if a pound were $10, it follows logically that 12 oz should cost $7.50, right? Not so fast. Let’s assume, for sake of argument, that bags and labels cost $0.50 each. 10 lbs used to require 10 bags, or $5.00 worth of bags. That was baked into the 1 lb price. So if you bought 10 lbs, you paid $100: $95 for coffee, $5 for bags. If you buy the same 10 lbs 12 oz at a time, you will buy 13 bags (yeah, I know it’s 13.3, but go with it to make the math easy). So now it’s the same $95 for coffee, plus $0.50×13=$6.50 for bags, or $101.50 total. That works out to $10.15 per pound, or $7.81 per 12-oz package. Whew! Get it?
I can tell you that, ultimately, it will be either 12 OR 16 oz packages, not both. Maybe we’ll test market both for a period. But before we do that, we would like to have your opinion. Take the poll!
WWJD (What Would Jim Drink today?): I indulged in a little guilty pleasure today – I drank coffee that I actually roasted for myself (be still, my heart). Usually I drink samples, or whatever hasn’t sold after 10 days or so. I used to think it was a Dad thing, before I realized it’s small business owner thing, too. Last week I received a new load of green coffee, including one very special natural Ethiopia Sidamo, from Golba. Nestled in the south of Ethiopia, along the border of Kenya and not too terribly far west of Somalia live the Shanta Golba cooperative, producers of amazing organic, Fair Trade Certified, Pure Joy In A Cup. This is another amazing fruit-forward cup, like the Boldgrain we had mid-year, and not entirely dissimilar from the Guji we have in stock now, too. Yes indeed, I am smitten by naturals. Look for this one on the web site sometime next week.