‘Coffee culture’ is a term that came into being because of the intense love and loyalty humankind feels for the beverage.  It’s more than the flavor, or even the energy boost provided by a fresh brew.  It’s about the sense of community, the comfortable environment within a coffeehouse, and even the slight air of sophistication that comes with the sip of a custom crafted espresso drink.

There is no question as to whether this is a profitable industry, and there are plenty of beans to go around (about $100 billion annually, to be more precise). The trick, though, is to embrace coffee culture without drowning in the sea of café copycats.

Tweak to Be Unique

Did you know that there are more than 87,000 different drink combinations that can be ordered from Starbucks?  Love them or hate them, this coffee powerhouse has always done one thing very well—they stay on trend, while standing apart.  It’d be easy enough to list the typical coffeehouse options—drip brew, cold brew, latte, cappuccino, Americano, etc. Starbucks made the standard into something special simply by tweaking the traditional.  They don’t just offer a large frozen flavored coffee; they offer a Venti Blackberry Cobbler Frappuccino as part of a seductive photo reel, and they even make this fancy frothy favorite feel personal by scrawling your name across the rim of the cup.

So, how can you “out Starbucks” Starbucks?  Be unique.  We’ve been in coffeehouses that allow guests to draw on the floors and walls, so they literally become a part of the environment.  We’ve been in coffeehouses that offer guests the opportunity to make the menu with “Best New Flavor” competitions.  And, we’ve been in coffeehouses that feature secondary services to encourage return visits—coffeehouses attached to laundry mats, spas, hookah bars, performance art studios, and (our personal favorite) brewpubs.

Know Your Coffee Crew

It’s not enough to serve a hot cup o’ Joe.  To truly compete for coffee culture consequence these days, you need to build an experience.  That begins with knowing your audience.  What sort of crowd are you aiming to serve?

Coffee is a beverage beloved by billions—young and old alike.  Are you aiming to serve the senior citizens who are most pleased with a simple selection of blends and a quiet place to meet with their fellow retirees?  Are you targeting the teens who willingly accept higher calorie counts in exchange for new and unexpected flavors, trendy tunes, and the feeling of freedom?  Perhaps you’re looking at the millennials, who are busy balancing school–, sports–, and work schedules, and just want to grab a cup of their favorite indulgence while pounding out a few last-minute emails before rushing off to manage practice pick-ups. Knowing who you’re trying to reach will help you build the roadmap to success.

Let the Process be Part of the Package

For many, part of the café experience is the sound of the milk steamer, the smell of coffee beans in the grinder, and the sheen of the roaster.  This is one industry that shouldn’t always try to hide the operations.  At Deutsche Beverage, we believe the equipment can be a beautiful as the hand poured foam atop a custom brew.

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