Most of you will know that I'm not avidly against the coffee shop chains, as they do hold their own benefits. For starters, the level of convenience found in a chain is unlike most independent and speciality coffee shops. You won't find many speciality shops opening at 5am and closing at 10pm like the likes of London based Starbucks'. Consistency is another thing: sure, it may not be amazing (at all..), but you know what you're getting every time you order. The taste never really changes because they've nailed that part of service. Speciality coffee shops can offer you what seem to be very different espressos and beverages depending on the day and the barista making them.
I always used to put Mcdonalds into this cluster of shops, too, even though it's not necessarily a dedicated fast food service for coffee. However, the past few years have seen them recently try and latch onto the ever growing coffee industry and expand their own menu to suit the growing desire for speciality coffee in the English market.
But the way they're going about this...well, really strikes a nerve with me, if I'm completely and entirely honest.
Let's start with last year where Mcdonalds released an advert which divided the nation of coffee drinkers. Taking the mickey out of speciality coffee shops, people in the industry didn't really know whether to laugh along or take offense from it. But most, including myself, passed it off as a one off stunt which should just be ignored. After all, it did go viral (and trust me it wasn't fun being a barista and having to put up with cocky customers coming in asking if you'd seen the wonderful advert of how 'things should be' - groan), so there was no point being negative about it.
Truth be told, I didn't like the advert. You don't take the mickey out of an industry you're not a part of..you just don't. They joked about prices, the tiny portions, and the time it took to make a cup of coffee in these establishments. Well yes, because it's a speciality shop. Someone's making it from scratch. That's how it works. Let's be honest, you're never going to stumble into a high end artisan burger and steak joint with the same mindset as your visit to Mcdonalds. No - exactly.
But heck, that's not what I'm here to talk about really. Just a bit of context for you for the fact that me, along with many people in the industry, left this advert well alone and let Mcdonalds continue with their business. If I'm completely honest, I'd practically forgotten about it until the other day when I came across this gloooorious piece of advertising:
Oh yes, they've brought out the flat white.
(translation: oh god.)
I just want to stress that I'm not against chains offering the flat white, but I've yet to see someone do it properly. Costa, for example, offer a tastier coffee than their regular espresso beverages (in my honest opinion) but in a huge ass size. Starbucks, however, offers the 'short' drink but with the same burnt over taste that is highly distinguishable with the brand. In some ways, it actually makes me more curious when another chain comes along and makes their own version of the flat white - that way I can see whether or not they've succeeded in their research.
But as soon as I saw those advertisements, I really didn't have high hopes. For starters, have you seen the machine they make coffee in? Okay, it's great for what they do, but that isn't the way to make a fla
t white. I'm not a huge fan of the antipodean style of coffee, but I wholeheartedly raise my hands up high to bow down to the gods who created the flat white. It was a revolutionary step forward in the coffee scene where espresso was balanced perfectly with milk in a silky drink. When you get served a flat white it's a great way to tell how skilled a barista is, and when you get a good one - it's money well spent. You're spending money on a skill, not just a 'smaller latte' (as Mcdonalds has pretty much defined it - thank you for this Mcdonalds, where would we ever be without you).
But this brings me to my final point, in which my friend in a coffee shop put it rightly and told Mcdonalds to 'stay in their own lane'. Firstly, you can't go slandering the speciality coffee industry then bring in the most speciality drink which is famous for its skill and presentation. Just bring in a short latte instead, makes way more sense to you guys. And secondly - companies who negatively portray other industries, especially independent businesses, really do not bode well with me and well, to be frank, quite a lot of people. The speciality coffee industry is increasing at such a rapid rate people are struggling to keep up - Wetherspoons apparently now sells more cups of coffee in their shops than anything else - so trust me when I say it's going to leave many people with a bitter taste in their mouths, even before they take the first sip of their 'flat whites' from your automated machine.
Oh, and placing your adverts about how cheap your coffee is outside of speciality coffee locations isn't working in the way you probably wanted it to. People are laughing at you and making jokes about that whole easier to swallow bit.
Take it from the coffee shop marketer, this is an industry best left alone - people can be quite...bitey.