Creating a USP for your specialty cafe: Your customer

The specialty coffee market still is a small one out there - a lot of great potential for more people to get excited about specialty coffee! But, still, each and every one of the specialty cafes is trying to grab the attention of its customers.

Think of yourself and your cafe: Looking at the local specialty coffee market and how you’re trying to attract customers.

Do you know who’s coming to your cafe? Who are those people and what do they need? No? Not sure?

Well, when creating a unique value proposition or unique selling proposition (USP) for your cafe, you got to know, who you’re talking and who you’re selling your coffee to!

Remember the time when you first started your cafe? Or maybe you’re even about to get started. It doesn’t matter! Have you found yourself trying to get as many people to your cafe as possible? Yes?

Don’t try to please everyone!

Good advice, I know! But we all know that, especially when we first get started. We try to make everything right, we try to be everything to everyone.

But, that does not work – maybe in the beginning, but not in the long run. Because, when you attempt to be known for everything, you don’t become known for anything.

Does that sound familiar to you? The thing is, your customers will tell their friends and family about your cafe, if they like it. Of course!

But, they most reasonably tell about it, if there is something to tell! Is it your great coffee or your homemade cake? Is it the friendly atmosphere or the service, your staff? Whatever it is, it has to be something, you’re customers can distinguish. If you’re not sure, what that certain thing is, ask them!

Try to find out, who your actual customer is and why they’re coming to your cafe!

Hmm, not easy, I know...! There are those business people, always in a rush... There are girls meeting with their friends... There are families...

So, how are you going to find out more about them?

Do a little research!

You easily can tell if they’re male or female, right?

As for the age: Make certain age groups. Under 20 years, 20-30 years, etc. Or even more vague: children, teenagers, young adults, etc.

Can you tell something about their occupational/job status? Do students come to your cafe? Mostly business people because your cafe is located in a downtown business district? What about the families? Are these mostly the mothers and their children or everyone of the family?

Start researching those people! What do they order? Just coffee? Do they have lunch? Your homemade cake together with the coffee maybe?

How long do they stay? Do they even stay or do they take their coffee and food with them? When are they heading to your cafe? In the mornings for their daily caffeine fix before heading to the office?

What’s the WHY of their way to your cafe?

If the little research we just did, doesn’t really help, yet, try asking them! This is also a good way to find out, how they would explain why you’re great to others. If you’re really ambitious, ask them, why they like your coffee over others, plus ask them to rate the importance of the features you offer, such as taste, size, ingredients, atmosphere and service. You'll be surprised how honest people are when you ask how you can improve your service.

Run a little survey among your customers and offer a free coffee drink or a discount in return.

You gotta know everything you can about your customer and why they’re coming to your cafe!

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes!

Too often, cafe owners fall in love with their coffee and the coffee preparation and all sorts of brewing methods. Don’t get me wrong! You gotta do what you love, to be a great host, too!

But, some of us forget that it's the customer’s needs, not their own, that they must satisfy. Step back from your daily operations, and carefully scrutinize what your customers really want. Never assume that you understand your customer’s needs and desires. In most cases, there will be a major disparity between your level of knowledge and theirs.

Sure, customers come into your cafe for coffee. But is coffee all they want? What could make them come back again and again and ignore your competition? The answer might be quality, convenience, reliability, friendliness, cleanliness, courtesy or customer service.

If you’re just starting out and don’t really have customers to do research with or even ask them, make a little overview of the customer, you want in your cafe! What kind of people do you WANT to attract? 

Your dream customer

This ideal customer helps you to figure out about, what products he or she might want and, most important, how you’re able to talk to them and offer your products to them. Narrowing your audience hones your message and speaks directly to those people most likely to get a kick out of your service. 

But, even if you’re not new to the cafe business, this ideal customer overview can help you find out, if your actual customer and your ideal customer match!


Are you attracting the ‘right’ people, yet? Do you know what your customers really care about so that you can deliver it to them uniquely? Maybe they don’t care about low prices, in which case your claim to having the lowest price will be useless...

Knowing your customers, what they want and why they're coming to your specialty cafe is essential, when creating a USP! Without knowing who you're talking to, the best coffee and service will be fizzling out.


Do you know your customers and how to talk to them? Tell me in the comments below!