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Newsletter #1030: The “Lessons from Blue Bottle Coffee” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Blue Bottle Coffee isn’t your average coffee shop. They take pride in being coffee snobs who take extreme measures to make the perfect brew. And it paid off for them last year when they raised over $25 million in VC investment.

Here are three lessons from how Blue Bottle earns loyal customers and fans:

1. Teach people something
2. Create a unique experience
3. Invite people into your company’s intimate spaces
4. Check it out: WriterKata

1. Teach people something

The world of fancy coffee can be a daunting one. The most complicated brews can take the “hand of a surgeon” with the “improvisation of a musician,” according to Blue Bottle. But it’s OK, they’ll teach you how to do it. Their site has brewing lessons for everything from your standard French press to the intense Nel drip method. Even if you’ve never brewed coffee before, each lesson is easy to understand and makes the process look fun and creative, not scary.

The lesson: When you teach a customer how to do something, you give them an opportunity to look smart in front of someone else. You can bet that Blue Bottle’s customers can’t wait to show off their new chemex brewing skills and milk art.

Learn more: Blue Bottle Coffee Brewing Guides

2. Create a unique experience

For anyone who’s not a coffee snob, a visit to a Blue Bottle Cafe might be torture. Their painstaking processes take a lot of fancy equipment and a lot of time. But for coffee enthusiasts, it’s what makes their cafes a tourist destination. While they’re watching someone make their perfect cup of coffee from vintage machinery, they’re surrounded by other people who geek out over the same stuff as them. It’s about a lot more than just grabbing a cup of coffee.

The lesson: Even with Blue Bottle’s mail-in subscription service and a Starbucks on every corner, people will make pilgrimages to go to Blue Bottle’s cafes. That’s because when you create a remarkable experience, you create something bigger than just a product.

Learn more: Inc.

3. Invite people into your company’s intimate spaces

Usually, Blue Bottle’s cupping room (or tasting room) in Oakland is off-limits to the public — a strictly business, distraction-free zone with no music, no meetings, and barely any talking allowed. That way, Blue Bottle employees can give their coffee tasting some intense focus. But every once in a while, they open it up to the world and have a band and a big party for their “Cupping Room Sessions.” It’s a way to feature local musicians and give Blue Bottle’s fans a peek into one of their most sacred spaces.

The lesson: When you bring people behind the scenes, you’re helping them feel a stronger connection to your company. For Blue Bottle, since these parties are held in what they call their “sanctuary,” that’s especially true.

Learn more: Blue Bottle’s Blog

4. Check it out: WriterKata

At Blue Bottle, they make great coffee by perfecting methods that have been around forever and making small improvements each time. A kata, or a simple, repetitive exercise, is kind of like that. WriterKata uses that principle to help you improve your writing, one sentence at a time.

Check it out: WriterKata

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