Café Loustic | What it is like to open and run a Coffee Shop in France, Part 2 – Know thy (French) client
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What it is like to open and run a Coffee Shop in France, Part 2 – Know thy (French) client


21 Jul What it is like to open and run a Coffee Shop in France, Part 2 – Know thy (French) client


The Ten Commandments of French Café Clients

1. The French take their coffee like a medicine. A long, burnt espresso, that might as well have been extracted through a sock, with sugar, down the hatch. A caffeine hit, bypassing the tastebuds. Don’t even  mention ‘mouthfeel’…

2. The French coffee client drinks their coffee black. Hallelujah!

3. The French client may not come every day, every other day, or even every week. They come when they have time for a full break (= “le pause café“).

4. The French coffee client does not order ‘to go’. Coffee this expensive is drunk in porcelain cups, not paper (I agree, but I don’t judge). Less than 10% of our sales are takeaway, and over 90% of those are to non-French clients. When I hear people wanting to come to France and duplicate the take-away coffee culture from overseas, I just roll my eyes and think of David Hepworth’s (British media personality) quote: “You will die faster than a flea in a Russian’s beard”…

5. The French client has a hard time understanding the concept of a “non-alcoholic drinks destination” (like an espresso bar) that is only open during the day. In Paris, this is due to the traditional Parisian café serving up alcohol, food, and soft drinks as well as coffee at all hours, plus see number 1 above.  Any explanation about the fact that we specialize in coffee is met with “OK, but what do you have to eat…”. Sigh..

6. My former French colleagues were bewildered when they learned that I used to take the metro 2 stops to go and get my coffee at lunchtime (Paris in 2009 had only 2 Marzocco machines and as many baristas..). Yes, I used to explain to them –  coffee IS that important..

7. Our French clients who spend good money on coffee at Loustic (and who like it) will think nothing of going back to the office and chasing it with a 20 cent vending machine coffee that could disembowel someone. I very much doubt that happens in London or Portland or SF in 2015.

8. The French coffee client who has never encountered specialty coffee before and, after trying it, doesn’t like it, will not like the ‘tangy’ taste or will think is too strong. Coffee drinking here has a longer tradition than the Anglo-Saxon countries. So specialty coffee is rowing against this tradition.

9. The French coffee client will look at an espresso bar and say “it’s like Brooklyn”. I’m willing to bet most of these people have never set foot outside Manhattan on their visit to NYC.

10. When you explain specialty coffee to a French client, especially it’s similarity to wine in how it’s a product of the earth and that’s why different coffees have different tastes, they listen attentively and understand. It is not seen as pretentious (like in some quarters in the UK, for instance). That is because they are ‘educated’ in gastronomy. This is marvy!

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