We just wrapped up our 12th Independents Day – an annual forum that gives coffee house owners a way to connect, engage and grow with other coffee house entrepreneurs.
Celebrations kicked off Friday, August 8 with a welcome happy hour at Woody’s Tavern on the Ohio State University Campus in Columbus. The next day, more than 70 coffee house owners and baristas from across the country gathered at Ohio State’s Student Union to learn about the latest trends in specialty coffee.
After breakfast, Independents Day opened with a discussion about handcrafted coffee by Coffee Buyers Dave Eldridge and Brandon Bir. They described their travels to build relationships with small-plot coffee growers, introduced highly rated single-origin coffees and demonstrated single-cup brewing methods using Chemex and Hario v60 coffee brewers. Their session ended with samples of nitrogen-infused cold-brew coffee, which has been a big hit since its introduction at Crimson Cup Coffee House.
In a session on Grassroots Marketing, Andrea Rank of Crates Coffee House in Lake Orion, Mich. described how she hosts events to boost sales. Julie Driesbach discussed how coupons, door hangers and other grassroots efforts increase traffic at Scioto Valley Coffee in Circleville, Ohio.
Next, coffee house owners, Crimson Cup staff and consultants discussed effective online marketing strategies. Terry Shortt outlined the Facebook tactics he uses at Leo’s Donuts and Coffee in Radcliff, Ky. Matt and Julie Love of The Well Coffee House in Boston, Mass. talked about using Instagram to promote their coffee shop. Online marketing consultant Dave Culbertson of Lightbulb Interactive shared insights into why every coffee shop needs a website. Marketing Director Melissa Rogner concluded with ways to tie social and grassroots efforts together for maximum impact.
In a session on Boosting Sales with Featured Drinks, Lynn and John Calvelage discussed how they use a featured drink book to entice customers into trying new drinks at Coffee Amici in Findlay, Ohio. Melissa Rogner and Marketing Manager Janie Brooks demonstrated how coffee houses can use Crimson Cup’s online marketing portal to create customized promotional materials. Coffee Ambassador Bob Cervas ended the session by explaining how hand-brewed coffees can increase customer engagement and profitability.
In his keynote address on the Service Profit Chain, OSU Professor Michael Smith demonstrated how employee training and engagement drive customer loyalty in service businesses. Smith is Director of the Initiative for Managing Services at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business.
After lunch, discussions turned to financial aspects of running a coffee shop. Kim Krantz of Coffee Chaos in Midland, Mich. talked about how to plan labor for continued growth. Erich Gellner of Java’s Cyber Espresso Bar in Columbus explained how he plans labor for fluctuation and retention. Jerry Bevel demonstrated inventory and ordering strategies he uses to control costs at Corporal Ray’s Coffee in Andrews, Texas. Crimson Cup’s Jeremy Lowe wrapped up the financial session with benchmarks for cost of goods sold and labor.
Next, participants divided into breakout sessions. Coffee Quality Technician Chris Shegitz gave a demonstration on preventive maintenance, while Dave Eldridge and 7 Steps Trainer Steve Bayless talked about advances in Point of Sale solutions for coffee shops.
After a question-and-answer session, Independents Day concluded with a Community Barista Throwdown. Participants from The Depot Coffee House, Court Street Coffee, Scioto Valley Coffee, Coffee Amici, Coffee Expressions and Java’s Cyber Espresso Bar each had 10 minutes to make three varieties of drinks, including single espresso shots, a traditional cappuccino and a signature beverage of their choice. Judges from Crimson Cup evaluated each drink and gave an overall score to each barista. When the scores were tallied, Katie Eresman from Coffee Expressions emerged as the winner. An Oscar Home Espresso Machine was donated by Nuova Simonelli as the grand prize.
Thanks to the Cuppers and coffee house owners who made this year’s Independents Day such a big success. CHEERS to another great year of Coffee + Community!