We had a great time in Chicago during Coffee Fest 2011. Not only did we get to meet some great people in the coffee business, we were buzzed after walking through just one aisle in the trade show.
What we learned:
- Coffee prices will continue to go up. Ouch. So many factors play into this, but it’s something we should be expecting.
- Oatmeal is now cool. Who knew? Oatmeal is now the trendy breakfast item. We can serve it in a to-go container with the toppings already added in – add hot water when the customer orders, and it will cook right in the container. So easy, and good for you too (as long as you use whole ingredients, like we do).
- Business is tough. Coffee shops are competing in so many ways with national chains now, it’s a struggle to survive, especially in a queasy economy. But we’re all in it together, and we must continue to educate everyone on the advantage of buying local. We must focus on serving a superior product, and really getting to know our customers’ needs.
- We love latte art. We watched a latte art competition, and that was a lot of fun! Two baristas compete head to head, taking up to 3 minutes to create a work of art in a latte cup. Judges then decide who wins the round, and the winner advances to the next round, kind of like the NCAA tournament. We can’t wait to train every one of our baristas on the fine skill of latte art.
- Single-serve brewing is good. We really already knew this, but within the constructs of a fast-paced business, it’s hard to make it work. Thankfully there are many new tools available for coffee shops to make a single-serve brew a reality in a quick serve environment. Keep your eyes out for this soon at The Meeting Place on Market!
We are doing the right things. When you’re faced with a rough economy, increased competition, and roller-coaster sales, it’s hard to think you’re doing things right. But after we listened to seminars and sampled others’ offerings, we realized that we doing a pretty darn good job at The Meeting Place on Market. We are always striving to get better, but it’s nice to stop and give yourself a pat on the back too.