I love to read Seth Godin’s blog. Godin writes the world’s most-read marketing blog, and has a portfolio of success (and failure) that every entrepreneur admires. His blog posts are usually daily, brief, but profound. This morning’s post really resonated with me (I paste it here with attribution, but encourage you to click over to his blog and read for yourself):
The market has no taste
When it comes to art, to human work that changes people, the mass market is a fool. A dolt. Stupid.
If you wait for the market to tell you that you’re great, you’ll merely end up wasting time. Or perhaps instead you will persuade yourself to ship the merely good, and settle for the tepid embrace of the uninvolved.
Great work is always shunned at first.
Would we (the market) benefit from more pandering by marketers churning out average stuff that gets a quick glance, or would we all be better off with passionate renegades on a mission to fulfill their vision?
We (Muddy Dog Roasting Company) are in a business that has something to do with taste. Godin’s post caused me to think deeply about customers’ taste for our business, and our products.
Unfortunately, I find myself agreeing with him. That makes this a difficult post to write, because I’m afraid I will insult some of our customers. That is not my intention. My intention is to get you to think about your coffee consuming behavior, and make some adjustments.
Here are some opportunities:
- Ditch the condiments. We watch an awful lot of people prepare their morning cup. It’s safe to say that 85% adulterate the beverage with cream and sugar. Knock it off. “But the coffee tastes bad then”, you say. If that’s true, you’re drinking the wrong coffee. Give ours a chance. Maybe you can’t quit the condiments cold-turkey, so wean yourself off them.
- Stop drinking bad coffee. Yeah, we sometimes need a caffeine fix, I get that. But consuming coffee as a water substitute is a bad idea. When you encounter bad coffee in the market, don’t buy it. Don’t drink it. Let your actions speak to the quality.
- Focus on making good coffee yourself, at home. So many customers tell me they can’t make coffee like we serve them. Bull. The fact is they won’t invest the time to figure it out. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment. A high-quality hand grinder can be had for $75, and a pour-over cone for another $25 (with filters). Neither will EVER wear out. You can buy some of the best beans in the world from us at $15 per pound or less (which is a bargain these days, BTW). You can spend more on convenience goods (auto drip brewers like Technivorm, rock star coffee like Esmeralda, etc), but they won’t make you a better cuppa. Practice, practice, practice. And don’t drink your own bad coffee, either.
- Expand your horizons. Stop ordering the things in your comfort zone. Branch out. Taste things you think you might like. And things you think you might NOT like. Get off the beaten path. We sell coffee for a living. I have access to some of the biggest rock-star coffees on the planet, like the Panama Esmeralda we’re now stocking. On Sunday morning, I could drink anything. I chose a Costa Rica Helsar today, because I can taste the love that went into it. It’s every bit as good as the rock star coffees, in it’s own way, an under-appreciated gem.
- Find yourself a local roaster you can access personally. There are starting to be many “big” small roasters. The Triangle is home to many. You see them on the shelves of Wholefoods. Yet you never see them, actually. I’m talking about a human conversation with the person that buys your coffee at origin. The person that roasts your coffee locally. While I believe you’re fundamentally doing better buying those products than you would buying Folgers, it’s not enough. Make a human connection. Many of us are still small enough (and plan to remain small enough) for you to make that connection. Give it a shot.
Enjoy your morning cup today. And think hard about whether you have good taste.