This article looks at the challenges and benefits for coffee shops and roasters that want to host public education programs to boost customers’ coffee knowledge.
At Counter Culture Coffee, education is an integral part of business. The Durham, North Carolina–based company has wholesale partners across the country, but no cafés of their own; providing resources to ensure proper brewing by clients and customers is critical to their growth and success.
The company’s Counter Intelligence Professional Development series caters to clients and staff, but they wanted an educational offering for curious customers, too. To reach casual coffee enthusiasts, the company began opening their training centers to the public.
For several years, Counter Culture has hosted coffee tastings open to the public every Friday morning at its eleven regional training centers. These cuppings, dubbed “Tastings at Ten,” provide an opportunity for outreach, consumer education, and product storytelling. Attendees learn more about coffee origins and have a platform to discuss various coffees with staff as they taste.
Counter Culture developed courses catering to coffee consumers in response to growing demand from home baristas. In the past, the public could join coffee pros in the same training classes, but the mix of enthusiasts and professionals just didn’t work. Wholesale clients had difficulty getting into classes, and it was clear that most home baristas didn’t have the same learning needs as professionals, or those with professional-grade equipment in their homes.