More Voices, More Views, More Coffee

Some updating to ye ol’ Blogroll is somewhat overdue, at least so far as the college of coffee blogs goes. There’s lots of interesting new voices out there — folks who are pushing the envelope on roasting, brewing, pulling shots and delivering an over-the-top customer experience — and at the same time making some of the old-guard “coffee men” raise their eyebrows, first in alarm, and then in appreciation for what they find in their cup. Stephen Morrissey is barista trainer at Bewleys Coffee Co in Dublin Ireland, and his site — Flying Thud — documents his adventures in coffee. Lots of espresso porn, of course, but he’s also a fan of the drip. His posts will make you pine for European coffee shops you’ve never been to. Barrett Jones is a Canadian national barista champ and until recently worked the bar at Vancouver’s most excellent Caffe Artigiano. His site — Dwell Time — offers a glimpse of the extraordinary Vancouver coffee scene. Stephen Leighton’s blog — Has Bean — offers the perspective of a coffee guy who sources and roasts some fairly stupendous coffees, which sadly I know by reputation, only. (The reputation is certainly deserved: UKBC winner James Hoffman poured his way to the top of competition with a Has Bean custom blend.) Stephen’s been known to drop by here from time to time to offer an insightful comment or two. And last but not least — Barismo — a Boston based group blog contributed to by Jaime, Ben, Ben and Silas. Their writing spans coffee roasting, cupping and delivering a top-tier coffee experience in the coffee...

Now this is just almost embarrassing…

But not so embarrassing that I won’t post it… The Vermont/New Hampshire Direct Marketing Group has made me a poster boy of sorts for their (19th Annual!) conference at the lovely Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Spa in New Castle, New Hampshire. I understand the resort is beautiful. And they have lovely spa packages. Maybe you should book...

A Coffee Experience

This evening at the local Borders I ordered a double espresso. This is *not* something I would ordinarily do… in-store coffee shops have a dismal track record in my book, serving coffee that is all over the map in terms of quality. But the two young ladies behind the counter were 1) clearly interested in whether the customers they’d just served liked their coffee, and 2) clearly having a very good time. Me: I’d like a double espresso.Girl #1: Great! [beaming smile] Would you like in one of our really *cute* little cups?Girl #2: [raises a cup and saucer in a pose that would do Vanna White proud.]Me: Absolutely! I should note: this is the first time I’ve *ever* been offered a real cup — I’ve always had to state my own preference — even in specialty coffee shops that should know better. [grinder noises. tamping noises. grunting noises. grunting?] I catch bits and pieces of the girls’ conversation… I hear “tweaked the grinder” and “about forty pounds” and “look! It’s perfect!”. Beaming, Girl #2 sets a cup on the counter. It’s about 2.5 ounces, the crema is slightly pale. I try it… and it’s not bad. It’s not bad at all. What’s more, it was a very positive customer experience… the girls behind the counter were clearly trying very hard, and taking pride in their efforts. They get extra points for style… and...

OOPS.

For a long time I dismissed personal web sites as hollow “vanity” pages. I was wrong. Sure, there are sites that don’t really have much to say… but what’s to dismiss about personal expression? There are personal sites that express real purpose, or real talent, or at least a real person. The proliferation of weblogs, or “blogs” has added a new dimension to the mix: a sense of immediacy. It’s that dimension that can make an average blog entertaining… and a good one just plain irresistible. So why me? And why now? I make my living from this thing we call the Internet… I’ve been ‘working the web’ since 1994 (and dialing into, and then building BBS since 1986. Anyone remember Fidonet?) And as my efforts have slowly mutated from technical architecture to information architecture to customer experience evangelism, I’m finding myself uncomfortably removed from the hands-on aspects of development. So this site is at once a means for me to express my own ideas about the web and what it can mean to people, and an opportunity for me to keep my own development experience fresh and relevant. Bloggle will be an experience playground of sorts, for both me and you. And so it...
Your Customers Are Talking

Your Customers Are Talking

Appeared in Inc. Magazine, September, 2000 Increasingly aware of the costs of acquiring new customers on the Internet, companies are scrambling to implement relationship management initiatives and to adopt practices that deliver a superior customer experience. A foundation of any such initiative is a clear understanding of the customer’s goals. Companies must ask what does my customer hope to achieve by coming to my web site? While customer surveys and focus groups can be valuable tools, such research has its limitations. Surveys often reveal more about the expectations of the surveyor than the experiences of the responder, and focus groups can be influenced by group-think even with the most skilled of moderators. To understand your customers’ goals, you must converse with them. Seek out your customers where they already congregate. Communities of interest exist everywhere, from Usenet newsgroups to email lists and web-based discussion groups. Engage your customers in supportive conversation and help resolve the issues that brought them into the discussion in the first place. This is not a place to debate with your customers’ instead, it is an opportunity to learn how your product or service might better meet your customers’ needs. Read your email. Studies indicate that hundreds of top companies, dot.coms among them, fail to respond to customer email for days — or don’t respond at all. Such a failure foils potential sales and erodes existing customer relationships. Worse, it’s a missed opportunity to learn about your customers’ needs and their perception of your products. Analyze how your web site is used. Your customers voice their opinion hundreds of times every day — with every...

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