Focus on The Coffee, Not The Caffeine
Regardless of your target market, there are lessons to be learned from The Bean Alliance’s focus on specialty coffee. If you want your customers to want your decaf coffee, rather than simply avoiding caffeinated options, you need to position it as more than just decaf. You need to position it as great coffee.
As Aika Daikuhara, International Business Manager at Maruyama Coffee, Japan, tells us, they market decaf coffee by focusing on the fact that it’s exceptional coffee. “We recommend the best-quality decaf to our customers. It’s all about cup quality.”
Unfortunately, decaf coffee has a bad reputation. Yet, more times than not, this is the result of past experiences of poor-quality decaf. James Wogan of Wogan Coffee in the UK says, “Most people’s experience of decaf will likely be as the secondary coffee, hidden from sight and not really cared about, rather than something to be celebrated for its taste!”
So, assuming that you have great decaf on the menu, start telling people this. Let customers know if it’s a single origin or blend. Share with them the tasting notes. Explain how it was produced and who by. Offer it as a pour over coffee as well as an espresso.
The Bean Alliance took this to heart. Susan tells me, “We started to market based on the fact that we were sourcing and roasting a single origin decaf coffee… We switched to say we have a ‘Peruvian single origin Fairtrade and it happens to be decaf’.”
Cupping decaf Honduran Cafélatera at Wogan Coffee.