May 5, 2009

Coffee Changes in the Recession; Time to Trade Up?

Times are tough, but coffee consumption remains strong; just in different places and in different forms. Yesterday word came out about a renewed coffee war between Starbucks and McDonalds. For what it's worth, I think that Starbucks is losing it's edge, and not holding up like a strong brand should. Howard Schultz spends a whole lot of time saying that he is not afraid of losing customers to McDonalds, but the ads they are putting into newspapers these days are supporting that. With the tag line "It's not just coffee, it's Starbucks", they are pushing their culture, quality and values behind the cup of coffee as a differentiator vs. other brands...... like McDonalds. Saying that their research shows people are not switching to McDonalds, Howard Schultz may be dodging the fact that new customers won't find his rand because McDonald's has already tied them up with a line of products that meet their needs. Only time will tell.

As the recession continues though, coffee bean prices are holding up as demand is very much there. From what I have seen from reader email, people are switching to less expensive means of getting their coffee; trade down from espresso to drip when outside the home, buy into home brewing of espressos, bring coffee to work in a high quality thermos to avoid paying $4 a cup. All smart moves if they meet your needs for quality, flavor and price.

Time to trade up?
While the recession is time to save some money here and there, buying better coffee may be a great way to save money. Stopping by the coffee shop less often? For the price of a few Lates you can afford one of the best pounds of coffee on the shelf to brew yourself at home. If you were already brewing high quality coffee at home, I say keep doing it. Where else can you move from terrible quality to excellent quality for about $8; and enjoy the difference each and every day? You can do that when buying a bag of coffee at the store, and I think trading down to bad coffee for home is the last thing I'll do to save money.

So go get a great bag of coffee at the grocery store, brew it to your liking, grab a coffee flavor wheel and enjoy the experience of drinking high quality coffee. Make notes of what the flavors were like, learn the differences between the flavors. Next time, try a different origin, blend or roast and compare to the last coffee you brewed. Brew. Drink. Repeat.... and enjoy.

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Posted by Scott Martin at May 5, 2009 6:04 AM
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