STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 3, Number 3

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 7 of 79

8 STiR tea & coffee industry international C Designing Retail Space offee retailing is both art and science. It is an endeavor that challenges the practical and the cerebral. This year's SCAA Symposium showcased big ideas in the big auditorium while hands-on "Discussion Salons" encouraged participants to talk shop. I sat in on a salon on the use of coffee space that advanced the first-day discussion "From Sell- ing Better Coffee to Selling Coffee Better." The panel included Ben Wurgaft, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Al Keating, managing/creative director at Coffee Supreme in New Zealand, Alex Bernson, assistant editor at and Vida Asrina, co-founder, Kopi Culture in Sydney Australia. Bill Sleeth, vp of design at Starbucks, described a simple yet profound approach that won over even the most strident independent shopkeepers in the room. Simply put: The best design strategy is to adapt. Shops that respond to the surrounding community and respect the structure in which they are housed excel. A cookie-cutter approach only works in markets where the brand is unknown. It is far better to be "locally relevant," said Sleeth. Sameness falls short but "similar" works in mature markets. "I'm not wearing what I wore yesterday but you still recognize me," Wurgaft explained. There is no secret formula known only to the big guys, Sleeth assured the room. That is why Star- bucks employs 350 in-house designers to work closely with real-estate experts and architects. While there is no direct correlation between design and sales, "there is a penalty for not improving space," he cautioned. That is why all of the company's stores are periodically refreshed. Five years ago, when Starbucks introduced several unconventional store designs, the company was not trying to fool its customers into thinking it was an independent third wave café, he explained. Starbucks was simply adapting and evolving in sync with its customers. The company has its own vibe and it's successful; "We are simply working on making Starbucks a better Starbucks," he said. "Our customers tell us what they want," Sleeth explained to the room full of coffee professionals, many of whom own or operate specialty coffee shops in competition with Starbucks' 20,000 locations. Starbucks locations featuring wine and hors d'oeuvres and small bites are popular because they meet the expectations of patrons who wanted an evening place, quite different from their favorite morn- ing place – leave it to the genius of Starbucks to make that place the same address but with different lighting, ambiance, menu and a choice of alcoholic beverages. One of his personal challenges, Sleeth admitted, is to give up on the idea that every design should be his favorite. "It's not about what I like; I had to get past that. I now realize that some people are like me and they like what I like, but many, many people are not like me. The key is to discover what they like," he said. One fascinating discussion centered on store design as a filter that invites specific types of cus- tomers into the shop and sends others away. It is interesting to think about how bare walls plays out in different cultures. Minimalist was not appreciated 30 years ago. "Not everyone sees value in polished concrete and bare walls," observed one participant. You can create a sense of community in a chain store and you can strike out as an independent when the setting signals phony. "The sense of community is more imagined than real nowadays," said Bernson. "There are very few shops with a special relationship to the community they serve. All too often the connection between the barista and guest is about the barista – it should be about the guest," he said. Shops that thrive on the quality of the coffee and service must constantly improve, obserbed Sleeth."You are either building the brand or destroying the brand, there is no space in between." This year's Symposium is a reminder that specialty coffee is foremost a retail experience. The livelihood of growers and roasters and single-pour baristas, shop owners and designers depends on the retail customer, the final vital link in the chain. The panel concluded that large or small, keep a close eye on customers and good things follow. © 2014 October Multimedia Inc. STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International is published bi monthly in January, March, May, July, September and November by October Multi- media Co., Ltd., with production and distribution overseen by October Inter Co., Ltd., 1126/2 New Petchburi Road, Vanit Bldg. 2 Room 1403A, Bangkok 10400 THAILAND. Tel +66 22 55 66 25, Fax +66 26 55 22 11 E-mail: Visit: for the latest news. From the Editor Publisher Glenn Anthony John Managing Editor Dan Bolton Art Director Somjet Thitasomboon Global Tea Report Jane Pettigrew Global Coffee Report Jenny Neill Contributing Writers Suzanne Brown Alf Kramer Frank Miller Katrina Munichiello Dan Shryock Peter Surowski Helen Xu Fei Translations (Chinese) Helen Xu Fei Director, October Inter Co., Ltd. Boonthin Tubsongkroh Administrative Assistant Sayaporn Wattanaking Sales Director Emerson Leonard Sales Representatives Jonathan W. Bell Chris Michaelides Editorial/Circulation Offices STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International c/o October Inter Co. Ltd. Vanit Building 2, Room 1403A 1126/2 New Petchburi Rd. Bangkok 10400 THAILAND Tel +66 2255 6625 Fax +66 2655 2211 Published by: A Member of:

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of STiR coffee and tea magazine - Volume 3, Number 3