• 3 Feb 2017 1:47 PM | Anonymous

    So, I come back here after 21 years in Siberia (you heard me right 21 years in Siberia) and started my Sonoma County coffeehouse hopping (something I love to do) when suddenly I realize something.  It seems that while I was away there was an unspoken rule implemented through the county, throughout the state and even throughout the country; if you are a 3rd Wave coffeehouses, you don’t serve food! 

    I was shocked.  In 3rd Wave coffeehouse after 3rd Wave coffeehouse I saw that everything was in place; bearded hipsters – check, tattooed, pierced baristas – check, awesome single origin coffee pour-overs from micro-lots who’s names I’ll never remember – check, it was all in place.  But the one thing that wasn’t was the food.  At first I thought that it was just me; clearly my American food service colleagues knew more than I did.  They had done the math and broke down the COGS and found that food just wasn’t the way to make it in the coffeehouse business.  But then one day before I went into Taylor Maid Farms, one of my favorite coffeehouses in Sebastopol, to get a cup of coffee and prepare for a coaching session I was doing the next day, I was famished.  So, I went to the Whole Foods a block away, got my smoked turkey and Jarlsburg on a sourdough roll and went into the coffeehouse, got my coffee and sat down to eat.  When low and behold sitting with their lunchtime cup of coffee was another patron with, you guessed it, a sandwich munching away just like I was about to.

    So, I posse the question to us all, does a 3rd Wave coffeehouse have to exclude food?  Drop me a line if you know a coffeehouse, café or restaurant that straddles the divide… between the two.  I’d love to hear about them!

  • 3 Feb 2017 1:45 PM | Anonymous

    I remember I was sitting in "New York Times", a bar founded by my mentor and second business partner Eric Shogren and we were talking about the future of Traveler’s Coffee having the same conversation that we’d had many times before.  It was 1999 and we were just about to open the first Traveler’s Coffee espresso bar in New York Pizza on Lennina Street in Novosibirsk, Russia (BTW that’s in the heart of Siberia folks).

    “People just wont pay 50 Rubles for a cup of coffee here (that was about $2.50 at the time), much less warrant the cost of building a roasting facility to roast the beans on a regular basis.”

    Mind you this was the guy that brought Pizza and beer all throughout Siberia.  And this was the discussion I had with countless investors and potential partners from the 1997-2003.  Then it happened, the Russian coffee boom of the naughties (that’s the 00 years of the 21st Century) and the teens.  Now there are countless micro-roasters and coffee bars and coffeehouses all throughout Russia, as in most countries of the world today.

    You see, that’s the way things are… until something is actually done and done over and over again we will never know if the idea, product or service will actually work because of the simple fact that no one has ever done it before.  It’s the plight of all innovators and things new.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those, “There’s no such thing as a stupid idea” kinda guys… in fact I’ve heard a lot of really stupid ideas and come up with my share of them.  What I’m saying here is that you have to assemble the right type of people that are open to an idea, give it a thorough and critical thinking over and then bring it to market and after many, many iterations you will see if it has merit or not.

    So, what does that have to do with us, the café owner, the taco truck guy, the restaurateur?  Simple, just remember that your menu or design concept will need time to prove itself and you will have to have enough resources to support that baby while it grows and becomes a viable business.  I’ll be posting more on basics of knowing how to see if you have the next big idea or not… until then keep ‘em coming!

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