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Hawaiian flavored coffee.

Hawaiian flavored coffee

In the course of my work, I get to meet many of my readers. They represent different segments of the coffee industry and share a growing interest in gourmet coffee. This interest reflects a basic acceptance that gourmet coffee's growth is real, permanent and not a passing fad. Gourmet coffee is potentially lucrative, and should therefore be taken seriously.

If you're considering implementing a gourmet coffee program, an employee education program can be critical to your success. On-line employees who actually handle the gourmet coffee need to have a basic knowledge of it because, if they don't, the results can be disastrous. Let me illustrate:

I visited a coffee house on a large university campus, asked one of the employees what was the best selling coffee and was told Kona Blend. When I asked her why the Kona Blend sold so well, she said it was the Hawaiian flavoring used on the beans.

I was in a modern "super" market that had a large array of gourmet coffee in serve-yourself bins near the deli. I asked the clerk if she could tell me anything about the Irish Cream flavored coffee, and she told me it was made from coffee grown in Ireland.

I stopped in a little snack bar advertising espresso and cappuccino. I ordered an espresso and watched as the person put an eight ounce mug under the group, hit the start button, and did not cut it off until the mug was entirely filled. When I made a remark that I thought espresso was supposed to be served in a small cup, the person behind the counter quite proudly told me that she wanted to make sure I got my money's worth.

Now, if you're like me, you don't know whether to laugh or cry when you hear stories like this. Yet these misinformed but well-intentioned employees represent you and your business to the general public. (If you don't see anything wrong with the above scenarios, shame on you.)

Coffee shops, restaurants, snack bars, supermarkets - everyone wants to make money selling gourmet coffee - and equipment manufacturers, roasters, salesmen, all scramble to fill orders for equipment and product. Little consideration is given to employee education in the rush to make money.

There is not much mystery in this rush to sell gourmet coffee since gourmet continues to be the only real growth segment of the coffee market and the only type of coffee drawing new consumers and therefore new money. According to an August 1990 marketing analysis compiled by Find/SVP of New York, sales of gourmet coffees in 1989 were about $1.2 billion at the retail level, representing 19% of all coffee sold and up from nearly 10% in 1983. By 1994, all types of gourmet coffee will make up a full 30% of the retail value of U.S. coffee sales, representing approximately $2 billion.

A good employee education program combined with quality products can help you capitalize on this growth by attracting the new, better educated consumer who wants a better cup of coffee and is willing to pay for it.

I bet you're reading this and saying something about where are you going to find the time. Let me put it this way, would you spend a little time to make more money? An employee education program can be initiated by taking advantage of resources you already have.

Printed information about coffee is available through the Coffee Development Group in Washington, D.C. and also by reading trade magazines such as this one. Suppliers usually have written information about their products available for the asking. You can read coffee information and tell your employees, or you can give them the for information to read for themselves. It would be best if you put the coffee information in a centrally located, employee handbook.

Get your sales rep to give a coffee class containing basic information about coffee. Most of them will be glad to do this if you give them plenty of advance notice.

Give your employees written tests about coffee to check their product knowledge. Somehow, having to write something down about a subject and hand it in for a grade makes you take it more seriously.

Use the "Buddy System" with new employees and have them work either with you or a well-trained employee so they learn firsthand how things should be done.

No matter how small the operation, employees can benefit from an In-Service Training Program.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Title Annotation:importance of employee education in retail gourmet coffee industry
Author:Sturdivant, Shea
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Article Type:column
Date:Dec 1, 1990
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