It’s no mystery why wine tastings are so popular: as a participant you get to drink something delicious, enjoy time with friends, compare descriptions and even compete (if that’s what you’re into) to identify the flavor profile and origin of each sample, and more than likely you leave feeling a little more buzzed than when you arrived. All those same attractive attributes could describe a coffee tasting, too. If you’re looking for outside-the-box ideas to help promote your restaurant, café, or newly released blend of carefully roasted coffee beans or newly imported green coffee beans, a coffee tasting may be just the thing.
Knowledge is Power
Having lots of options for your customers to try is appealing – each person buying 3 bags of coffee or 4 types of coffee syrup is potentially three times the income, after all – but people like to buy with confidence, and not knowing what that fancy exotic roast is will turn out to be a major deterrent. A coffee tasting is education made fun. Guests mingle as they sniff and sip demitasse portions of whatever it is you want to highlight, and you can even brew to order in coffeemakers you have for sale.
Meet the Neighbors
Open houses are a beautiful thing. People find safety in numbers and open houses allow interested parties to drop by, peruse the goods, and get a feel for your establishment’s atmosphere without making an appointment or feeling like they’re on the spot. You can certainly do invitation-only coffee tastings that require reservations in advance, and there are some advantages to those for sure (more on that in a moment), but you’re also greatly restricting your audience. Get a reputation for being a business that is welcoming and approachable – people like that, and they’ll spend money where they feel comfortable.
Build and Reward Loyalty
Remember those invitation-only coffee tastings we talked about earlier? The fact that those give your business an air of exclusivity can be a negative if that’s the only types of tastings you’re doing, but in concert with come-one-come-all events these tastings with a VIP invite list can actually create more buzz and excitement. A KiteWheel study showed that 73 percent of customers surveyed believed that company loyalty programs should be used to show how much that brand cares about the customers that are loyal to them. What if you could reward your customers, based on either longevity or frequency of patronage or both, by inviting them to a special coffee tasting featuring high-quality brews tailored to their likes and dislikes – based, of course, on the information you’ve gathered every time they’ve purchased something using that aforementioned loyalty card.
Partner with Local Businesses
What’s better than marketing to your own mailing list? Marketing to someone else’s on top of it. You can exponentially multiply your marketing power by buddying up with local businesses for a coffee tasting with a kick. Perhaps you take a cue from the current wine-and-art night trend and bring in someone who will coach caffeine lovers through painting a still life while they sip their espressos and lattes. If you know an Irish dance troupe or talented singer-songwriter you can serve up your newest imported coffee from Papa New Guinea or JBP’s Classic Blend while that evening’s entertainment does whatever it is that they do best. Both sides of the partnerships in these scenarios benefit from exposure to the other’s following and the coffee tasting is now something even bigger and more exciting.
Short and Sweet
One thing to keep in mind is that not everyone will have the same love coffee-related minutiae that you do. While a three-hour taste-a-palooza on a Saturday afternoon might seem like a little slice of heaven to some, other coffee lovers prefer their java on-the-go – or at least less fussy. Appeal to these people by offering a compact, happy hour version of a coffee tasting. Every night at 5 or so, line part of your countertop with a few samovars and insulated single-serve cups and maybe even mini muffins or bite-sized bagels. It’s a win-win for everyone involved – you’re drawing in customers who may opt to buy something beyond your free samples and building goodwill along the way, and customers get an after-work recharge to help get them through their kid’s soccer practice or a PTA meeting.