Third-wave coffee can be intimidating for some. It can be difficult to adapt to third-wave coffee shops’ styles and offerings, given the number of options available to drink at second-wave coffee shops. However, how you introduce third-wave coffee to customers can make them believe and maybe even become regulars.
This guide was written by professionals in coffee and offered best practices to introduce new customers to third-wave coffee.
Recommended – Read our complete How to Start a Coffee Shop Business Guides. These guides were written by coffee professionals and will guide you through every step of the process, from sourcing coffee beans to hiring baristas to choosing a POS system to form a company to forming it.
Make it accessible
Many people are familiar with the “too cool” stereotype — someone who laughs at anyone who doesn’t know what a macchiato is. Because no one wants to feel stupid, this stereotype causes a lot of anxiety around specialty coffee.
But specialty coffee does not have to be an exclusive club. The success of specialty coffee depends on how many people participate. Cafe owners and their employees need to educate others about specialty coffee to make it more accessible. Customers want to know what your business offers, so make sure you share it in an informative and helpful way.
A hard copy of your drink menu is another way to make coffee more accessible. To make ordering a new beverage easy and enjoyable, including a brief description of each drink along with its total volume in ounces. You can give your customers an indication of which drinks are more traditional by listing the drink’s total volume. Your cafe might offer one cup of coffee instead of the three found in second-wave coffee shops.
Consider incorporating some Second Wave Options.
Third-wave coffee is often a new experience for customers who have had some coffee at second-wave shops like Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee(r). They will likely enjoy the variety of flavored syrups and sweetened coffees offered by these establishments. Although specialty coffee cafes don’t usually offer sugary lattes, it is a good idea to offer a few second-wave options to help customers get used to third-wave coffee.
There are many ways to do this.
- Create special drinks you’re proud to serve. Use seasonal, local ingredients to add an artistic touch.
- Make your syrups. Are you tired of the sugary syrups sold in second-wave coffee shops? You can make your syrups at home using quality sugar and other ingredients. Simple syrups can be infused with flavors, so you can easily add this task as an additional job for your employees.
- Drink Additions that Complement Your Coffee. While you may think that syrup is just a syrup, the flavor notes of the syrup or chocolate you select for your shop can enhance or alter the taste of your beverage. Sweet additions can be a great complement to your coffee star product.
Find out what to recommend.
When they don’t know what to order, customers will often ask, “What do I recommend?” and “What is your favorite drink?” It can make the difference between customers enjoying their third-wave coffee experience or deciding that it is not for them.
Everyone can enjoy third-wave coffee, so we recommend coffee with lower acidity and less brightness to help customers get to know that third-wave coffee is possible. It may surprise customers if their coffee history includes only Starbucks coffee drinks. These are good choices if you prefer a blend, a medium-roasted coffee, or a coffee with flavor notes such as chocolate or stone fruits.
Recommend to new customers that they start with a latte. A great way to introduce third-wave coffee is to reduce the coffee’s taste with milk. This not only reduces the initial taste of espresso but also allows customers to enjoy the visual appeal of latte artwork.
Find out What Questions to Ask
You need to ask questions to determine the drink preferences of your customer. But, choose your questions carefully. It is not your job to interrogate them. You are there to find the right drink for them. These are the three most important questions you should ask:
- Would you like it hot or iced? This question will help eliminate any ambiguities and get you closer to the beverage that your customer will love.
- What do you eat most often? This question will give you an idea about what your customer likes, as well as whether they are a sweet, strong or milky drinker.
- Do you want a coffee-forward flavor? This question is important to ask before you suggest a macchiato or espresso. If they say “no”, then it is likely that they are looking for something lighter.
Asking the right questions will allow you to quickly identify what customers like to drink and start a conversation with people interested in trying something new.
Start a conversation
Ask your customer what they think about the drink after they have tried it. You can have a conversation about your likes and dislikes, and you should respect their opinions. This conversation doesn’t have to convince them that they like third-wave coffee. It is about learning and exploration.
You can also suggest other beverages to your customer by starting a conversation. It’s possible to work with your customer to discover the best third-wave coffee for them while also providing excellent customer service. A manual brew method is a great option if your customer wants to try a particular coffee. This will allow your customer to experience the exact taste notes of the coffee you are discussing.
Believe in it and share why it’s special.
All of these best practices are designed to show your customers why third-wave coffee is so great. It is best to show enthusiasm for something you are passionate about, not just for the coffee but for the opportunity to share your knowledge.
These are some ways you can proudly show your enthusiasm for third-wave coffee.
- Offer samples. Show customers small amounts of specialty drinks or coffees you are excited about.
- Invite Customers to Your Tastings. Perhaps you’ve just ordered a new AeroPress coffee maker. Invite customers interested in the product to try it and give feedback.
- Communicate Information with Customers and Get Involved in the Conversation. Don’t assume customers don’t want to know. Your knowledge and experience can be shared with others interested in specialty coffee.
- Highlight Employee Recommendations. Display a barista’s favorite coffee or beverage weekly for customers.
- Use POS System reports. Find out which items customers are most interested in purchasing and create specials around these unpopular items.
A specialty business faces a unique challenge when introducing customers to products that are not in their comfort zones. These best practices will help make the introduction go a lot smoother.