Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Tale of Two Coffee Shops

One cafe has no menu, no prices posted, no items posted, and a line of 3-5 people every time you go. I guess they figure you know what they serve, why bother with a menu. The other has plenty of easy to read signage, hundreds of possible items to order, plenty of seating and no line. What's the difference?
Here's the difference:
Yesterday, I had coffee in Cosi's, a publicly traded company that is a bistro, cafe, bar, La Madelaine's type place. They have never shown a profit. Last year they lost $80 million. I had coffee, a bagel, and an earful of complaining employees about ten feet from me. The coffee, by the way, was lukewarm when served. Terrible.
Today, I had coffee at La Colombe. The cafe with no visible menu. But they do have hot, fresh coffee. I don't know how much money La Colombe is making, but it has to be a bunch. $1.50 for a cup of coffee, $2.00 for a croissant and the line is like the line at Starbucks on University, it's always there.
The CEO of Cosi's said that when they get their spending under control they will be doing better (todays WSJournal). I have a suggestion for the Cosi CEO and former Burger King exec -- when you start serving good coffee and good food you'll start getting some customers.
La Colombe knows the secret: please the customer. Simple. Customer wants good, hot coffee at a reasonable price. Great, that's what we'll do. Cosi's knows that appearance and image work . . . for a while . . . until you run out of first time buyers.

Can I say it one more time? I like Starbucks, but I hope that a local Fort Worth or Texas based company will do the same thing. Provide a pleasant atmosphere, wifi, great coffee, a light food menu and make a profit at the same time. Eurotazza, c'mon you can do it.


Andrew said...

I go to Mcdonald's every day for coffee and not the Mom&Pop coffee shop across the street because I know McD's will be hot and fast--whereas the Mom&Pop might be cold and the line might take 10 minutes.

It's the simple things.

Francis Shivone said...

I think McDonalds is doing well with their coffee. Look to see that expanding. Back in DFW.

jeromey said...


You should try roasting/brewing your own.

Besides being much cheaper, it's much higher quality and VERY easy.

I'm not talking about your Grandma's Folgers or Starbucks-in-a-bag either.

I'm talking about fresh-roasted, hold-the-cup-with-both-hands-and-try-not-to-burn-your-lungs-breathing-it-in-because-it's-so-good
coffee like you've never had before (unless you've had fresh-roasted before).

Don't get me started on trying to support the local guy. I won't stop.

However - a suggestion - have you pointed out to the owner/operator that you would gladly visit more regularly if the consistency in product and service were better?

A "local" with any sense of pride would comp you 1-3 drinks and promise to fix the problem.