Coffee Networking and Marketing

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Coffee is a marvelous product that has enchanted millions of people around the world with it’s tasty aroma and vitalizing properties. Nowadays you may identify yourself as business person or another type of professional interested in entering into the coffee industry. Maby you are interested in being a roaster or barista. Either way we are all coffee consumers! The question is how much do you know about how the coffee beans used to prepare your beverages and the people involved in the process of producing those beans and arranging for them to arrive at your house or favorite coffee shop? Don’t worry, for the moment we won’t talk about the agronomic details concerning to coffee cultivation. We are going to discuss some points relevant to what influences the cost of producing that coffee cup that you enjoy as well as how networking can benefit the coffee industry and the consumers as a whole.

As you may know, there are two major species of coffee known as “Robusta” and “Arabica”. This second one, Arabica, is the most desirable among the coffee lovers. Both Robusta and Arabica coffee varieties are grown in tropical areas around the world and once harvested the mature cherries passed through a pulp/meat removal process and further drying to get clean “beans” that are pack in jute bags. They are then stored in warehouses owned by cooperatives (farmer associations) due that single farmers normally can’t afford the shipping cost by themselves. Furthermore delivery to the roasting industry (many times located in faraway countries), to process the beans into diverse products available in groceries (retailers) and coffee shops is a very involved process and collaboration and cooperation allows for productivity through industry marketing.. These coffee procedures involve a lot of work, different degrees of effort, diverse skills and channels of distribution; so you can imagine that communication among all the actors is essential to assure profitability.

The international coffee organization (ICO) estimates that 1.4 billion coffee cups are consumed everyday globally making coffee a great deal more valuable than oil! How much of that money do you think that is rceived by the farmers? In the last decade the international prices of green coffee (beans) have showing a progressive tendency to decrease, despite a growing demand trend. The reasons for this are related to effect of climate change, sudden excess of supply, among other factors; actually since the last year, the price that a farmer is receiving for each 60 kilos bag of coffee is less than 110 dollars, in many cases not enough for covering the producing costs, while the big farmers can take action and try to increase productivity per hectare, this represent a threat for small farmers (the majority) putting them into a risky situation since they can’t afford more inputs to theirs farms.

What does this entire explanation means?

The coffee producing countries are passing through hard times, if there is not common agreement to improve the prices for farmers they won’t be able of satisfy the growing demand for coffee; here’s where networking can contribute to improve marketing approach between farmers, cooperatives, roasters, business and consumers to bring some stability to the coffee industry. Part of the solution for volatility of prices is increase contact between producers to report volume and price of yields at the farm for one side. This allows exporters and consumer companies that have access to this information about international prices to predict behaviors of the markets and reduce the risk of volatility. A net of communication via farmers-roaster and farmer-costumers becomes necessary to achieve the success of any sustainable initiative aiming to fair economy.

What about the usefulness of coffee internet marketing for business?

Let us illustrate the importance of marketing skills through a brief real life story. Luisa moved to Mexico City with her husband and decided to open a small independent coffee shop. They were able of renting a small place nearby a crowd office location. Her idea was introducing the locals to accessible coffee and food with more “quality” than the common fast food products around and they made the investment into a simple but very good oven and espresso making machine. It took a couple of months more than expected to reach the “breakeven point” for the business…. Why?

What can we learn from Luisa’s experience?

First of all, the importance of customer habits and preferences is vital. Second consumption volume of the potential clients had to be estimated to ensure the appropriate supply and to create an appropriate business strategy which would avoid loss sales and investment. Second, the importance of counting with a “face” that can be recognized by your potential customers and spread awareness of how your business differentiate from the competitors (no matter how simple is the concept of your business plan).

This is where the Cara Coffee’s team appeared to help drive local foot traffic to the coffee shop with coffee industry marketing. They leveraged extensive coffee web design experience to build the “Face” of the coffee company online while preserving the personal vision and narrative. At the same time, they ramped up marketing efforts marketing and Luisa coffee shop grew rapidly.

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