I Want Coffee, Not Coffee

Or: How I learned to appreciate cream and sugar again

By Nicholas Cho

Recently, I had the privilege of producing a “person on the street” video segment that was shown during the 2011 SCAA Symposium. Titled simply, “SCAA Symposium Street Interviews,” the video showed me asking nine random people outside of the Ferry Building in San Francisco a few questions about their coffee drinking. Namely: “How do you get your coffee? What does ‘specialty coffee’ mean? What is a great cup of coffee to you? What makes for a bad coffee experience? What makes for a great coffee experience?”

Normally, while interacting with the consuming public (that is, the ultimate “end user” of the coffee chain), we coffee retailers and baristas are accustomed to seeing our customers reacting to the products, services and messages that we offer them. Even professionals who are less involved with the point-of-sale are still familiar with various categories of coffee consumer, as well as the multitude of ways coffee is available.

SCAA Symposium Street Interviews by Nick Cho

What seems to be unique about this video is that it has us hearing from consumers outside of any particular coffee experience. They aren’t specifically our customers; they’re just random people answering some questions. To my surprise, the majority of reactions to the video were along the lines of, “Wow, what a reality check!” The views expressed in the video were clearly not ones a lot of coffee people were familiar with. But then again, I (along with the majority of the coffee industry) tend to hang out with a certain type of coffee person (namely: each other) or those rare customers who care about coffee as much as we do. To read the rest of this article, subscribe to The Chronicle or become a member today! If you’re already a Chronicle subscriber or member, please login.

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