Connecting with the Specialty Coffee Consumer

Although specialty coffee has been a movement of twenty-five years or more, we actually know very little about our customers. Who are they, what do they drink, and most importantly, what motivates them? Those questions formed the basis of a recent study undertaken by SCAA — to gain insight into today’s specialty coffee consumer, their purchase habits, drivers & motivations, perceptions of specialty, sources of information, and levels of understanding and appreciation for key quality points. Findings will be presented on day two of Symposium and the remainder of the day will focus on applying the information.

From the study, we can see a range of customers and purchase occasions. Even the most dedicated drinkers will opt for convenience every now and then and similarly, the most mainstream will explore up regularly. There is a bigger customer base then we may think, but their choices don’t necessarily follow a defined pattern. Motivations and purchase decisions are complex.

We’ll start our category conversation at the 4th Annual SCAA Symposium with Karen Foley, Publisher of Imbibe Magazine, who will use wine, beer, and booze as the backdrop for an analysis of branding strategies, illuminating opportunities for brands to forge stronger bonds with their followers.

Jamie Powell, from New Seasons Market in Portland, will offer her insights on how specialty coffee can develop the category and appeal to a broader range of drinkers. She will emphasize the importance of meeting the customer where they are and leading them comfortably through the process of discovery.

Christopher Schooley of Coffee Shrub, Chair of the Roasters Guild, will take the concept of meeting the customer where they are at even further, literally meeting a selection of coffee drinkers in their homes to demystify the home brewing process and identify opportunities to deliver an exceptional and convenient experience.

From new ways of thinking about the category, we will move to better ways to deliver our messages. We’ll hear from several notable authors, who each follow the trends in specialty coffee, about what information is getting through, what’s getting lost, and what stories are yet to be told.

After examining ways to better communicate through media, James Hoffman will bring it all together offering a holistic and integrated approach for innovation.


Category Comparisons: Lessons from Cheese, Beer and Booze

Infusing Excitement: Lessons from Other Beverages  Karen Foley, Imbibe Magazine
Developing the Category and Meeting the Customer Where They Are  Jamie Powell, New Seasons Market
Home Invasion: Delivering a Great At-Home Experience  Christopher Schooley, Coffee Shrub

Understanding the Consumer: New Research Profiling Specialty’s Most Enthusiastic Drinkers
Tracy Ging, Deputy Executive Director, SCAA

What’s Cool About Coffee: Media Perspectives on Engaging and Expanding Interest
Julie Wolfson, Freelance Writer, Cool Hunting, Tubefilter, KCBSLA, KCET Food
Oliver Strand, Food Writer, New York Times, GQ, Bon Appétit (and other publications)
Melissa Allison, Business Reporter, Seattle Times
Nicholas Cho, Co-Owner, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters

Re-Envisioning the Retail Experience
James Hoffman, Co-Owner, Square Mile Coffee Roasters

View complete Program and Session Descriptions at