Why Sustainability is the Future of the Coffee Shop Industry

Posted on April 24, 2017 by Ash Bennett

There has been a veritable explosion in the number of coffee shops in recent years. Over the last decade or so, coffee chains have sprung up out of nowhere, taking over an entire industry and introducing coffee drinkers to a wide variety of new beverages.

As the owner of an independent coffee shop, you have had a front row seat for this beverage revolution. You have watched as coffee shops and corner cafes have come and gone, and you have worked hard to distinguish yourself from the cookie-cutter competitors and the strength of the aforementioned chains.

Throughout it all, you have looked to the future of the industry, not content to sit still or wait for the world to come to you. Finding the future of the industry and predicting the future tastes of coffee drinkers can mean the difference between success and failure in this industry, something you know all too well.

There are plenty of reasons to build sustainability and environmental responsibility into your business model

Whether you just opened your first coffee shop or have been running your coffee house for years, there are plenty of reasons to build sustainability and environmental responsibility into your business model. There are plenty of coffee shops out there that focus on price alone, and even more that rely on the reputation of their chains. Simply copying their business models is not enough in the modern world – placing your focus on the sustainability of your coffee supply, the treatment of the workers who harvest the crops and the quality of your business partners is a sure way to differentiate yourself, build your brand and develop a loyal following among coffee fanatics throughout the region.

It is easy to see why a focus on sustainability would be good for the men and women who harvest the coffee crops and pick the beans we all drink every day. Those workers are on the front lines of the coffee revolution, and their treatment is directly tied to the conscience of the drinkers on the other end of the supply chain.

What you may not fully appreciate is how good a commitment to environmental sustainability and worker rights can be for you, the coffee shop owner. You may not fully understand how committed modern consumers are to these causes, and how they reward (or punish) companies based on their individual perceptions.

Coffee shop owners who are able to distinguish themselves and set themselves apart from the competition are the ones most likely to prevail. When it comes to running a coffee shop, the sustainability of the growing methods and the treatment of those who pick the beans is the most obvious distinguishing factor.

Focusing on sustainability is obviously important, but it is also good for the bottom line.

The very popularity of coffee drinks and the proliferation of chain coffee shops has created a crisis of quality. The market has been flooded with low quality coffee beans, substandard crops that are often picked in an environmentally harmful manner.

Those beans may be cheap, but serious coffee drinkers can see through the illusion. Instead of settling for a cheap drink and putting their consciences on hold, those coffee drinkers are voting with their wallets. They are increasingly favoring higher quality and more environmentally friendly types of coffee, and that is good news for coffee shop owners who place a high emphasis on quality.

This focus on high quality and sustainability can also open new avenues for coffee shop owners and create new sources of revenue. Coffee drinkers who know the difference between good beans and bad ones will be anxious to take their favorite brews home with them, creating an opportunity for coffee shop owners to sell their wares by the pound. Instead of simply being a meeting place for the locals, your corner coffee shop becomes a great alternative to the local grocery store.

Focusing on environmental sustainability and worker rights is an increasingly important part of the coffee shop industry, and the benefits multiply throughout the supply chain. When coffee shop owners refuse to compromise their standards, the workers who pick their beans get better treatment, customers get a better quality product and business owners get additional revenue and a boost to their brand identity.

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