Now that I've got a lull between conference marketing gigs, my mind tends to take off in directions I can't control. Usually that means it wants to leap back into the coffee world.
This morning I'm contemplating a Sudoku when suddenly the words, "Public Taster's Championship" enter my head. And within a minute I've got the whole thing figured out.
I hate when that happens. Because then I feel compelled to do something about it and Melanie will get all over me for wasting time on something that produces no revenue.
I imagine others have had this thought, and it's not the first time it's entered my head. But this time the idea insisted I give it credence. So I indulged it.
If there were one way to counter the "It's just coffee" mindset that most of the population continues to believe as true - despite what a coffee pro might hear within the echo chamber of coffee social media - a public competition could be just the trick.
In fact, it would not only improve public perception of coffee (and perhaps change perceptions on everything from acceptance of arcane brewing methodologies to global warming and derailing the K-Cup train), it would also have the benefit of improving coffeehouses that may not already include triangulations in their staff training. Which of course would produce better baristas. Which would mean more people get access to better coffee. Probably.
We already have the rules for the pros with the Cup Tasters Championship. No reason those need to change.
How it would (could) work:
There's a oversight organization in charge of rules and procedures. Could be the BGA (and wouldn't this get them more members?). And there are sponsors to underwrite costs. The sales pitch to sponsors is pretty obvious and there's actually more value in this than some of the other crap these companies already sponsor.
Regions are defined and within each region a few cities/subregions are selected where the initial competitions will be held.
The event is announced at the local/subregion level. A local promoter/champion gets local press and visits cafes to discuss the benefits. What decent cafe wouldn't want one of its regular customers to be their city's tasting champion? Each participating cafe hosts a preliminary. Winners of the prelims face off against winners from other cafes until there's a local champion.
This gets repeated at the regional level and eventually national. Perhaps even global in time.
At the local level you get the benefit of each shop promoting its participation via social media, along with the individuals who would be competing. Customers from each shop would root for one of their own. Even those who flame out in the competition would likely mention it, along with details of their participation. By the time the cafe winners make it to the city finals, there would be mainstream local press coverage, along with local food bloggers and other 'tastemakers' alternately lauding the competition or poking fun at it. All press is good press, as they say.
Then you move on from local to regional, and there's more mainstream press and social media coverage. And by the time the national competition commences, there's a national coverage. Maybe even the Food Network or other TV.
Certainly a competition like this isn't going to change everyone's mind about coffee. The folks who drink Folgers are likely to stay their course. If it was good enough for grandpappy, it's good enough for them.
But for the folks who regularly go to decent/better cafes and just order the house out of the urn, this may represent an unparalled opportunity to get them to take a chance at trying something different.
And there are LOT of those people. A LOT.
There are other potential industry benefits I haven't even mentioned. But it's time to go walk the dogs and I'm trying to get this out of my head so I can spend the rest of my day on doing something that actually does produce potential revenue.