Why the specialty coffee industry needs its own Gary Vaynerchuk.

July 8, 2013 by

Gary Vaynerchuk with wine. Coffee next?If you don’t know who Gary Vaynerchuk is, here’s a quick description for you.

He is the son of a liquor store owner, and worked with his dad in the store. He’s also a self-confessed serial entrepreneur.

While working with his father he came up with an idea he thought might increase the store’s sales. (It did. The family business went from revenues of $3 million to $45 million.)

What did he do? He launched a website in 2006 called Winelibrarytv.com. Essentially it was a daily video blog about wine.

Every day he introduced and talked about a different wine. Sometimes on his own and sometimes with a guest. And every day he greeted his viewers with a unique voice and attitude.

The outcome? He introduced hundreds of thousands of people – maybe millions – to the pleasure of actually tasting the wine they purchased. His audience wasn’t the people who bought their wine in boxes, or who always bought the second cheapest bottle on the shelf. Nor was it those folks who already drove or flew to famous wineries for weekend tastings. His audience was the middle ground.

It’s this same middle ground that is waiting to be woken up to the pleasures of actually tasting specialty coffee. As with wine, there are those who don’t much care what they drink, so long as it tastes like coffee and gives them a jolt. And at the top end there is a narrow segment of people already passionate about really high-quality coffees.

But that middle ground is vast…and just waiting for someone like Gary Vaynerchuk to inspire them to buy more interesting coffees, and to take enough care to brew them well.

If such a person appeared, he wouldn’t be the first to find and profit from this market. This middle ground of coffee drinkers comprises the same people who are currently buying single-serve brewers. They want more than a cup of Joe, but are not yet buying estate coffees and brewing them with a Chemex at home.

Companies like GMCR profit from this market partly by offering a wide variety of coffees from many different growing regions. But principally their success comes not from the promise of quality, but the promise of ease and convenience. Single serve brewing is easy.

So we are still waiting for Gary.

And yes, there are plenty of passionate and knowledgeable people already publishing video blogs about specialty coffee. Many do a great job, but none yet have the broad appeal and star quality of Gary Vaynerchuk.

But someone out there…maybe the founder of a roasting company, or the son or daughter of a roaster…is tinkering around with his or her webcam and almost ready to launch a video blog that will enthrall and inspire millions of people to really start paying attention to the taste of specialty coffees.

We just need someone to help wean people off single serve brewers and get them excited about what a quality coffee can really taste like…when carefully sourced, processed, ground and brewed.

In the meantime, the process of converting that middle ground is moving forward at a painfully slow pace, sip by sip.

NOTE: For help with marketing your coffees or coffee making equipment, check out my consulting and writing services…

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