Can I Have One of Those Little Cookies?

May 30, 2010

I’ve been following the comments on Brian Clemen’s blog regarding the use of syrups in coffee drinks by baristas.  If you follow the link, you can read some of my thoughts on the matter.  Naturally, I have much more to say on the topic, but I’ll leave that for another day.  The topic did spawn for me a thought about biases by baristas and shop owners, and how those biases influence the way we act and the products we serve.

At Echo Coffee, I have attempted to install a strong bias against post-consumer waste.  Essentially, I don’t want to throw anything away I don’t have to, nor do I want you, the consumer to have to throw anything away.  If it were possible to be successful, I wouldn’t offer paper or plastic cups at all.  Every drink would be served “for here”.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe Echo Coffee can be successful with that as a mode of operation, so I’ve compromised my personal biases in favor of attempting to be successful. However, I’m not going to stop trying to encourage customers to help me limit post-consumer waste, and in doing so, I devised a fairly simple enticement:  the 100% organic, shortbread cookie.

Short bread cookie with cappuccino at Echo CoffeeIf you order an espresso based drink for here (meaning, we serve it to you in a porcelain cup, with a saucer), you’ll get as a free bonus, a small 100% organic, shortbread cookie.  If you order that same drink to go, we’ll smile, put the drink in a paper cup, and keep the cookie.

The cookies haven’t been without their own problems, however.  For about a week, we had them in a spot on the counter where they were very visible.  It made them easier for the baristas to plate them, since it’s the last step in the process, and I hoped that customers would ask about them.  However, children would see them and ask their parents for one.  At this point, we’d attempt to as politely as possible say they were not for sale by themselves.  A 4 year child doesn’t understand that, and thus the parent is disappointed, and two people would leave Echo Coffee with a sour experience (regardless of how good the coffee was).

So we’ve moved the cookies to a less visible location, and the disappointment in children’s faces is now a thing of the past.  However, it also means that adults are less and less aware of our cookies, and when/how they might get one.

And thus the point of this post.  The cookies are there to encourage you to take a minute (or two, or five) to sit down and enjoy your espresso bases drink.  A straight espresso only takes a minute or two to enjoy.  A cappuccino takes perhaps five minutes.  Admittedly, a latte may take ten minutes or longer to enjoy.  We know if you are in a hurry in the morning, you probably won’t sit down for a couple of minutes to enjoy your coffee, but that’s why we’ve layered on incentives for doing so.  The first incentive is the beautiful porcelain cup (honestly, would you ever willingly choose to have a coffee or espresso in a paper cup?  Would ever make it that way for yourself at home?).  And the second incentive is the small 100% organic, shortbread cookie.  Either alone might be enough, but we are hoping that the two together tip the scale in favor of you choosing “for here” the next time we ask if it’s for here or to go.