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Specialty coffee convention review.

Specialty Coffee Convention review

Coffee producers received a marketing lesson on the whys and hows to sell coffee to the specialty coffee industry at the recent Specialty Coffee Association of America Conference and Trade Show held in Orlando. Tim Castle, Castle and Co., and Mary Townsend, Klein Brothers International, provided the advice to producers who attended the session on "Needs and Directions of the Gourmet Coffee Market in the United States."

Tim Castle set the stage by citing research studies that demonstrate just how important the specialty coffee industry is to the coffee producers. He indicated that "the specialty coffee industry represents about $1.3 billion of the total $6.5 billion in annual coffee sales and that 10% of all cups of coffee consumed in the U.S. contain specialty coffee." According to Castle, "the specialty industry is experiencing a 50% growth in sales and that specialty coffee may be stealing market share from the large roasters." From a financial perspective, Castle stated that specialty coffee yields twice as much profit margin for each coffee bean as compared to regular coffee.

In directing his comments toward the producers in the room, Castle's lesson covered the basics of marketing principles. "Your product is your calling card", said Castle," and you need to take pride in your product. Producers need to keep in mind that they are selling to the highest quality segment of the coffee industry and that their customers expect the best."

Castle indicated that the substance of marketing their coffee is the equity that they build into their product starting from the beginning. "Every aspect of your coffee becomes your brand identification and determines its differentiation from other coffees," Castle said. Producers need to understand that their coffee is their best marketing device. Their coffee conveys factual information about their product and the producer that already exists, and no amount of advertising or other marketing information can change the actual product. It won't take long for customers to find out if the quality of their coffee does not match the marketing information. "The more quality equity you have in your coffee the more likely it is that people will be willing to pay a premium price."

Mary Townsend, president of Klein Brothers, provided some specific examples for the producers. "Because the specialty coffee industry sells coffee in the whole bean form, the appearance is of utmost importance", stressed Townsend. The specialty industry wants exceptional color consistency and do not want the coffee to appear bleached from being over dried, according to Townsend. "The coffee should be very green giving a "fresh" appearance", she said. Townsend also urged the producers to keep the coffee consistently clean. "That means", Townsend said, no sticks, bones, rocks, or corn. Nothing but coffee should be in the bag."

The speakers provided a list of their fundamental recommendations that the producers needed to address if they wanted to sell their coffee to the specialty industry.

1 - Know your coffee-Producers need to know what makes their coffee different from other coffees.

2 - Know your customers and their customers - Find out the needs and expectations of your customers at both levels. Determine where your coffee fits into that equation and help your customer market your coffee.

3 - Let the product reflect the producer - If producers want to sell to the specialty coffee industry, then perfection should be the quality level. Quality should never be compromised.

4 - Be consistent - Most importantly, stress consistency. Know what you are doing to produce a quality product and do it again, and again, and again. Conform with your requirements every time.

Specialty coffee to influence

equipment trends

What are the trends in coffee brewing and grinding equipment for the specialty coffee industry? What features on equipment are needed by the specialty coffee industry? These questions and more were discussed by an influential panel of coffee equipment manufacturers at the 1991 Specialty Coffee Conference and Trade Show.

Don Schoenholt, Gillies Coffee Co., hosted one of the concurrent sessions during the conference which featured several of the major manufacturers of brewing and grinding equipment that is used in the specialty coffee business. Joining Schoenholt on the panel were Gordon McNeil of Probat; Doug Nance of Grindmaster; and Hy Bunn of Bunn-O-Matic.

In yet another testimony to the growing influence the specialty coffee industry is having on the entire coffee world, the manufacturers unanimously agreed that the specialty coffee business was a very important part of their business due to the segment's tremendous growth. The manufacturer's consensus was the most important aspect of this discussion because it represents their willingness to listen to the needs of the specialty coffee industry.

In addressing the concerns of specialty coffee retailers, Schoenholt pointed out that the trend in sales of specialty coffee is for single cup service, which means faster brewing times are needed. "The industry needs to look at adjusting grind sizes, such as the finer grind used in espresso coffee, to help meet that need," emphasized Schoenholt. He also advised the manufacturers on the panel that the industry needs low maintenance equipment that can meet the growing demand for greater volume.

The panelists agreed with Schoenholt's assessment and said that there is a need for a much wider range of grinders because "the coffee industry is not just A&P anymore." They also recognized the need for grinders with lower motor speeds so the coffee doesn't heat up.

In addressing the subject of flavored coffee, the panelists indicated that they want to work with the retailers to overcome the problems that grinding flavored coffee represents. While lower motor speeds on coffee grinders is one answer, the panelists offered several suggestions to the retailers to solve the problem immediately. First it was pointed out that powders tend to smoke less than oil, yet they unfortunately leave a residue. One panelist mentioned that many retailers isolate a second grinder for flavored coffee.

Schoenholt advised retailers that some flavored coffees will leave flavor residues in the grinder that will affect the next coffee ground in that equipment. He suggested that, "after grinding the stronger flavored coffees, retailers should clean out the grinder by running a non-descript regular coffee through the grinder to absorb the remaining flavor. It was also suggested that retailers may choose to flavor the coffee after it is ground and then store the coffee in airtight containers to retard its spoilage.

The future of filters was also discussed briefly by Hy Bunn. Pointing out that Bunn was the company that created the original design for the "cupcake" filter style, he predicted "that the paper filter will have a limited life expectancy."

Doug Nance, Grindmaster, advised retailers to work with their coffee supplier to get help with the grinder. Given how important grind size is to making a great cup of coffee, Nance said," your coffee supplier can assist you in determining if your grinder is producing the correct grind size."

Gordon McNeil, Probat, also pointed out that research indicates that as many as two-thirds of specialty coffee retail customers now grind their coffee at home. "This growing trend should also lead to the development of a wider variety of home-style grinders with more features", said McNeil.

McNeil added that "Restaurants are also demanding portion control grinders to help meet the growing demands that the specialty coffee industry has helped foster. The demand for a very high quality product with total control by all of our customers", concluded McNeil, "is being heard loud and clear."

Time will tell whether each of the ideas discussed during the session will result in equipment with new features. However, one very important message came out loud and clear. The new powerful lobbying voice of the specialty coffee industry should result in the further development of coffee grinders and brewers that address the specific needs of specialty coffee retailers and roasters.

Mike Levin was president of the Coffee Development Group (CDG) for almost 10 years. Last January, the Promotion Fund of the International Coffee Organization decided to close CDG and the other three promotion and marketing offices around the world. Since that time, Mike has been working as a consultant to coffee companies in both the U.S. and in Europe.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes related article on Guatemalan representation at the show; Specialty Coffee Association of America Trade Show , Orlando, Florida
Author:Levin, Mike; McCabe, J.
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Jul 1, 1991
Previous Article:The marketing mix.
Next Article:German coffee market after unification.

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