Old Vs New

I have to say that I had until very very recently somehow been unaware of Ryan Willbur’s blog’s awesomeness. I had subscribed to it for some time but for whatever reason not really twigged as to how interesting what he had to say was. No more! For those of you who have paid more active attention to the coffee blog world this revelation probably seems a touch old school, but hey Otis Redding is old school, and he is radical. Ryan W’s relatively recent post “Faces”, prompted me to think about the customers we serve and how their attitudes and expectations often prescribe our approach to them, particularly when retailing whole beans.

Some companies have a massive range of coffee, I’ve worked in shops with  up to 50 whole bean products on the floor all the time, so when a customer expresses an interest in trying something new, a veritable torrent of information is endowed upon them; the royal treatment and rightly so! However when a customer is an established one with a usual product of choice, the temptation as a retailer is to sell the product and move on. This seems paradoxical to me. Surely our established customer’s money holds the same value as our new customer’s money, and in fact our reckoning of their value should be influenced by the investment of time and energy spent selling coffee and talking to them in the past. It follows that we should by rights be spending at least an equal amount of time with our established customers as with our new ones. It seems like we are in effect allocating existing customers to an imagined mass of ‘acquired’ customers, and new ones as potential customers waiting to be bagged. The reality is however that customers are transient and constantly need to be re-stimulated and considered, not put out to pasture.

On a different note, my bro has been developing a kickass spreadsheet which I’m planning on using to plot and analyse espresso. Essentially its an excel spreadsheet into which data from each shot is placed and compared. The cool thing is its an evaluative system too, although the results are only going to be as good as the taster’s palate and perspective on espresso, I’m thinking the system might be a useful tool for giving barista’s a detailed run down on what has worked for a particular coffee and where to start their process. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about I’ll take a few screenshots.

Ok, so the screenshots didn’t turn out great, but you get the idea, this screen is where you enter shot data and tasting scores. It is preceded by a session screen, with date, time, location, barista, coffee, machine, objectives etc.

Here is the screen with the comparison choices

and this is an example of the graphs.

Pretty cool, lots of work to be done though and as they say the system is only as good as the data you put into it. Also worth considering is the evaluation of the results that enables this tool to yield results that reflect a positive or negative value, obviously there will need to be some definition of what are desirable attributes of espresso and what are not. A kind of calibration I guess. That however is another kettle of fish for another day.



p.s. I’m off to do some roasting right now, and am going to take some long overdue pics.


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