I live, commute, work in an area where Chain Coffee Shops are hyper-prevalent, but I hardly ever step into any of them. Why? Because I value $2 Coffee.
Ever since the turn of the millennia, there has been a progressive increase in Starbucks Coffee houses nationwide. With little sign of this trend plateauing, people have to wonder: what it is that brings people to this large chain? Instead of analyzing what makes Starbucks a marketing success, I want to delve into a niche market that can only be reached through local coffee houses. Local Coffee Houses offer three things that corporate shops won’t: low prices, specialty blends, and unique atmosphere.
Huddling around the office coffee pot one morning, I began to wonder why I didn’t stop into a Chain Coffee House or pulled through a drive-thru in order to get my morning fix. I began to ask my co-workers about this phenomenon, only to receive a similar answer, “It’s free!” Even though this is the obvious answer, think about your last trip to one of these large coffee chains. You probably had to convince yourself that the fruit of a laborious week was a trip to pick up this special treat, after all, you never do anything for yourself. Right? The fact is, most of these companies have marked up their coffee $.50 – $2.00 more than your local coffee shop (Starbucks’ Pricing). This outrageous markup is what has bred the mentality that going to one of these places is a “treat,” and why a lot of people love the free coffee at work – no matter how terrible it may be.
With more reasonable pricing, most people would conclude that the quality of coffee, or the assortment would be less than what you can find at a local coffee house. Yet, looking at the menu from a Chain Coffee house, the difference in drinks only varies in what ingredients are being added to the base drink (shots of espresso, ice, milk, vanilla, chocolate, etc.) However, when you walk into a local coffee house like Fourteen Eighteen Coffeehouse you will have the option of local or specialty blends, drip, pour-over, or French press – not to mention other menu items.
Local Coffee Houses can offer you a greater assortment of choice for less money, and provide a unique atmosphere. I take my daughters to daycare anywhere from 3-5 times a week depending on what work I have to complete during the week. I make a special effort to stop into Inspirations Coffeehouse, a local coffee shop that has become a second home to me. Whether I was writing 10-page papers for school, updating websites, launching social media campaigns, or just grabbing a cup to go, I knew that I would leave Timothy and Kwandi’s business feeling energized, accomplished, and in a better mood than when I walked in. The owners facilitate an atmosphere of ‘community’ which spreads to many of the patrons of the establishment, who genuinely want to know “how was your day”. In my visits over the past 3 months, my network has grown considerably through conversations sparked by numerous people from all walks of life. I have driven past numerous coffee shops in order to work specifically at Inspirations, and I will continue as long as I live in the area.
Local Coffee Houses like Inspirations and Fourteen Eighteen represent a growing market due to their reasonable pricing, variety, and atmosphere. So, next time you are thinking of ‘treating’ yourself to a Chain Coffee House coffee, open up your web browser and search for a local coffee house. I guarantee that you will not be let down by the experience.