Yesterday something rather incredible happened. I was at my Starbucks in Brighton. A good afternoon, a bit more chilly than I was expecting. The day had gone well so far, and I was just starting my half-hour break for lunch, meaning I’ve be eating a panini and brewing a French press of coffee for the team. I had selected Guatemala Antigua as the press for the day at Alex’s request. Going into the back room to grab the pound of Antigua I had left there and a press, my manager, Matthew, grabbed my attention.
“Hey, Ryan. Look at this.” He was hunched over, looking at his computer which was filled with various colored bar graphs, charts and numbers. “We’re officially number one in our district.”
“That’s great!” I reply, with my usual enthusiasm for the store’s success.
“Yeah, but look at this: We’re up eighty percent in our whole-bean coffee sales since last year.”
Now, you have to understand, my store doesn’t really sell whole-bean coffee. The reason why we don’t have a Clover machine (for reference, read this article: http://www.starbucks.com/coffee/learn/clover) is because we don’t sell much coffee by the pound. Instead, my store makes its buck on specialty drinks—espresso-based drinks (lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, et cetera), Frappuccinos, iced teas, that sort of thing. While this is great for the store, I’ve always been more excited about the core beverage (that and I hate Frappuccinos). Most people who come into our store simply get in line, get their latte, and get out. But ever since I was dubbed the “coffee geek” of our store, it’s been my dream to get our customers to stop drinking and start tasting. I’ve been on a borderline holy quest to educate them about the roast and region of coffees, the flavor notes and complexity. I was excited to hear the news, and chalked up the success to the work of my supervisors Alex and David, as well as the other partners (Starbucks code for employees) who have been learning to help customers sort through what sort of flavors they really enjoy.
“That’s great!” I responded, again enthusiastic.
“No, I don’t think you understand.” Matthew looked back at the screen, as if to verify that he read the information right. “An eighty-percent increase in a year is incredible. It’s almost unheard of. I mean, we sold twelve-hundred dollars worth of bagged coffee last week.”
“Twelve…hundred?” I asked, as if to verify that he actually meant one thousand and two hundred dollars. He nodded. I had been used to days without a single person purchasing a pound of coffee. I could hardly respond.
“Ryan, I honestly have you to thank for this. An eighty-percent increase in the past year is hardly coincidental. You’ve really changed the way we sell pounds of coffee here. I’ve seen the way you walk around the counter to talk to customers about their tastes in coffee, helping them sort through what they’ll like. The others have started doing that, too. But they weren’t doing that until you showed up. They saw you and said ‘Oh, that’s how Ryan does it.’ You’ve really changed this store. You know, with all this, I’m going to see if they’ll reconsider giving us a Clover.”
Feeling a little undeserving of all the praise, all I could manage was “Thank you.” And, French press in hand I suggested, “Let me know if you want any of the Guatemala Antigua.”
I know I’m not the only one who’s making these sales. A lot of the success has been from partners like Alex, David, and Finn, who have been pushing whole-bean coffee just as much as I have been. I couldn’t be happier than to see our team making the dream I had when I was first hired a reality.