Coffee Marketing, Part 1

Photo by Danielle MacInnes

Introducing: The World’s First Coffee Marketing System

You want to pay down your line of credit at the bank, give your employees COVID-19 hazard pay, and look back at the end of your life and see that your hard work and sacrifice have paid off and you’ve built a real business legacy. To do that you need to do one thing most of all: sell coffee, and lots of it! But if you’re like many coffee business owners, you may not know much about marketing.

I’m Emily McIntyre, a five-time coffee business founder and creator of the world’s first coffee marketing system, and I believe that you can sell lots and lots of coffee without being a salesy jerk. 

It’s possible to sell coffee with grace and confidence. Over the years, I’ve seen it done and done it for others, even selling millions of pounds of coffee through common-sense tactics at two of the businesses I founded: coffee subscription Crema.co and Ethiopian coffee importer Catalyst Trade

After more than a decade selling coffee, I’m teaching others how to do it for themselves. I’ve created a simple system to sell coffee: “5 Steps to Actually Sell Coffee,” which I introduced in May with a masterclass of coffee business owners from 10 different countries. I now offer the mini-course through my website, and this article is the official debut of my new column in Fresh Cup! I’ll be showing up here in every issue to share the very practical details of how to sell coffee from an expert perspective.

Here’s the great news about selling coffee: as long as you have the five basic steps in place with your coffee marketing, and you or your staff allocate a certain amount of time every week to doing those tasks, your business is guaranteed to sell coffee. If you do that, you can do many things less than perfectly—and still sell more coffee than you think possible!

Over the next few issues I’ll be digging into these steps in detail (and you can always check out my On-Demand Masterclass, which goes deep-dive and has all sorts of useful resources), but as an introduction, here are the five steps I’ve identified that serve as the foundation for sales and marketing in coffee. Every successful coffee business does a great job at these.

THE 5 STEPS

  1. Product – I feel pretty confident that you’re making a great product! But even more important than the actual quality of your coffee are the promises you’re making about your product, and how well you’re fulfilling them. These can be clearly stated or subliminal.

  2. Presentation – One of the biggest misunderstandings I see in this area is when people mistake a fancy logo or visual design for their presentation. Actually, everything your business does is part of your presentation, from the way your employees respond to customers, to the color of your packaging, to the prices you display on your menu board. 

  3. “It” Factor – This is one of the hardest pieces to nail down, but the most essential: what distinguishes you from your competitors? It can be flashy design or witty copy, but even those are just part of your presentation. The core of your brand is your “It” Factor, and it’s worth the soul-searching necessary to figure it out because this is how you stick in your customers’ minds long after they’ve drunk your coffee.

  4. Outreach – Outreach is everything we often think of as marketing, from social media posts, to PR pushes, to cold calling potential wholesale clients. It’s important to have a simple list of tasks here that you can accomplish regularly, instead of throwing everything you have against the wall and hoping it will stick. It is this step that, once the others are complete, defines successful coffee companies in the long term.

  5. Observe & Adjust – Figure out which metrics you’re tracking and revisit them regularly. When delegating, systematize the tasks necessary, and check in regularly to see how well they are performing and make adjustments as needed.

While the whole topic of coffee marketing is much more complicated than this, at its core, it’s this simple: make sure you have your 5 Steps in place and are putting the appropriate amount of time in every week, and you will start to see success.


READ Coffee Marketing, Part 2: More Offers = More Sales


READ Coffee Marketing Part 3: How to Start a Coffee Brand


Emily McIntyre is CEO of coffee importer Catalyst Trade and creator of the world’s first coffee marketing system, which can be found at catalystcoffeeconsulting.com. Get in touch at emily@catalystcoffeeconsulting.com