Ok, the title is a groaner but it was either that or "Garrulous in the Missed".
The following is my attempt to expand on my previous post and offer some suggestions to create discussion about bringing focus back on the consumer, or at least adding some programs so that all of us agree there is a focus on the consumer. Some of these ideas are things I've stewed about for some time, some have been inspired by comments on my previous post and some from conversations with interested parties. I'm not going to flesh out the ideas and describe how they would fit into SCAA systems because there are others better suited to that task.
1. Re-establish the Retailers Committee within the SCAA leadership group. I see this as a way to represent a company perspective to counter the barista/competition view that drives strategic planning currently. Barista/Micro Roaster input is invaluable, but we need balance. Coffeefest has established a program to reward great cafes presumably because they recognize there is too much focus on the individual.
2. Establish a Consumers Committee within the SCAA leadership. Stocking this committee may be problematic but if they can represent the full spectrum of consumers effectively they can also reduce resentment and provide some perspective on how we are serving our customers needs.
3. Add an additional component to EVERY lesson plan written by the SCAA in all its branches to apply lesson knowledge into how to better serve the customer. Asking course participants to articulate how they would leverage course material to better serve each customer would remind us all who we should be pleasing. If customer service is a component of every lesson plan and not just an online entry level course, it would no doubt improve service across the industry.
4. More effective and balanced use of conventional and social media by SCAA. Re-tweeting and publishing by the SCAA of individuals is perceived as an endorsement (like it or not). That endorsement damages the SCAA when the "endorsed" lash out and behave unprofessionally online or elsewhere. There are many within the Specialty Industry who are routinely criticized and demeaned simply for expressing an opinion. That has to stop and the offenders called out until it stops. There are too many knowledgable and kind coffee people (as Colleen reminded me in my previous post) who have no voice because they are afraid of ridicule or having their head photoshopped on Sprudge or some other form of cyber bullying that characterizes a very small minority of our peers. Having access to SCAA resources comes with responsibility and the beneficiaries can't always claim they were wearing their company hat when they offended some of our community. If it's mean, make it stop and make your voice heard.
5. Reform the barista competition format to make it more closely represent a customer interaction rather than a performance. Maybe it could be based on a sort of "iron chef" type format where signature drinks are based on a unique list of available ingredients for each barista and they are able to construct something blind, or simply shaking up the drink orders so they are not served as a flight, but random like a normal order sequence. There are no doubt many obstacles to this happening, but making the barista demonstrate "working barista" skills rather than performance craft would greatly expand the limited possibilities of the current format. What we would see is a more personal and edgy competition that would both thrill an audience and test the barista's ability to think on their feet, like a normal bar situation.
6. Establish a committee or working group to examine how to recruit more visible minorities into Specialty Coffee. This I think is long overdue. Minorities bring unique perspectives that are vastly under represented currently. I don't know anything about consumer habits within minority communities, but I do know that if the distribution of attendees at SCAA events is any indication, there is a massive amount of business to be gained by engaging with ALL of our society.
Those are my initial thoughts. Please know that these are not intended to demean or diminish anyones past contributions to the coffee community, but my personal suggestions for addressing what is a sore point with many within the industry.