It’s Not About the Coffee

I do like my coffee. And without claiming to be in any way a connoisseur, I do know the taste of great coffee made by a highly skilled ‘barista’. After all, I lived in Sydney and Melbourne for years – the huge Italian population in those cities have educated the palates of millions to be able to discern the difference between bad, good and excellent coffee.

Now there is an important issue here for us home based businesspeople who like or love our coffee, as a key issue in connection with ‘getting out of the office’.

Because it is very important, as a home based business person, not to stay at home all the time. You need to get out, not just to meet clients and prospects, but to stay in touch with the rest of the world and converse with others in a civilised way.

And for those who have small children at home, it’s essential to remember how to speak with adults other than a spouse or significant other without feeling you have to stick to one or two syllable words. 

But the fact is that a lot of us, from the nature of our business – say, internet marketing – can spend days without ‘going out’ other than for a quick dash to the post office and hopefully then to the bank to deposit some money, then back to the office, the email etc!

So when we do ‘go out’ with a bit more time to spare, the quality of the coffee can be very important for us. This is especially the case where, as I have done for years, you use coffee shops as your ‘meeting with clients and prospects’ alternative office. That’s not just because you want to enjoy your coffee, but because you want the client, the prospect to feel good and to consciously or unconsciously rate you higher because you’ve taken them to a place with excellent coffee.

What’s brought this on? You may well ask.

This morning, a Saturday, having been up late last night getting the functionality on a website right – as you do on a Friday night when you have a home based business – and having spent another period this morning fixing the things I hadn’t picked up last night, I decided to reward myself with a high grade coffee made supremely well.

Now I know there are places around here which make excellent coffee and I was headed to one of them until I remembered that last time I was there the coffee wasn’t so good.

Then I thought of another place where I’d had a great cup of coffee and again realised that on a separate occasion it hadn’t been so good.

So with not a little inconvenience in terms of traffic and parking, I went to a little cafe where on each of the two occasions I’d been there, the owner had made excellent coffee, we’d had a nice little chat, etc. Good vibes. That’s the one, I said.

Wrong! The owner was indeed there today, but she had an assistant – another lady – helping her and after an interminable delay, this assistant produced a coffee that didn’t look brilliant to me. But I was prepared to give it a go.

It was terrible! Not just not brilliant, not just not good, but quite one of the worst cups of coffee I’ve had for as long as I can remember (and I’ve drunk a lot of coffee over the years). Having been brought up to be polite, I find it hard to ‘make a scene’ with any real dignity and usually finish up feeling bad if I do try that. So I just got up, left the undrunk coffee and said the lady who’d made it, ‘that’s a terrible cup of coffee’. Could she get me another one? What am I, I thought, a masochist? No thank you. She clearly did not know how to make a good coffee and I suspect the cup had residual soap suds in it. And she didn’t know how to deal with an unhappy customer about to walk away and never come back. So I just left.

On my way home, I reflected on these events. At first I was trying to work out how I could get a decent cup of coffee. Then I realised that the real problem is lack of consistency. It’s no good having an excellent cup of coffee at a cafe one day and not knowing whether the next one will be up to that standard – or worse, whether it will be even drinkable.

So then I asked myself just how consistent my service and my communication are for clients and for people I am in contact for about possible future work. Does my performance meet the standards I expect from others? Exceed those standards? Hmmmmm.  So I started to identify a number of ways in which I could raise my own standards and my own performance in terms of consistency.

I’ve got it – physician, heal thyself.

It’s really not about the coffee.

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About Des Walsh

I show business owners and other professionals how to navigate the social media maze and use LinkedIn effectively. I'm an author, speaker, business coach, social media strategist and LinkedIn specialist. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get my weekly Social Business Bites.