I love coffee, but it doesn’t love me back. My body can’t handle caffeine at all – and yet I struggle to go more than a couple days without a foamy latte.
I really do need to find the Todd to my Mugatu
When it comes to great coffee, we’re absolutely spoiled in Bristol. With amazing indie coffee shops scattered over the city centre and our unique colourful suburbs, customers have an almost unlimited choice.
For the small coffee shop owners, it’s certainly a competitive market – but we’re a city of coffee lovers and with a great product, personal customer service and a spattering of something unique, it’s more than possible to win the market share and an adoring fan base.
Coffee that satisfices
You may have read my last blog post about satisficing, which explains that we often choose the first solution that will complete the job, even if it’s not necessarily the best.
As much as I think we coffee snobs (and I know I sit in this category) believe only the best cup will do, in reality coffee purchasing is for most, a satisficing decision. We have a list of what we want from our caffeine-fuelled bliss, and often pick the closest cup with an acceptable level of compromise.
- Personal service
We also change what we’re willing to compromise. Some days, you just want the most efficient coffee experience, so location and reliability rank high. Others, you might be desperate to get away from a screen (or that Steve from accounts) for 15 minutes, so indulgence, environment and facilities rank higher, and you’re probably willing to travel a bit further for taste.
Wow Aime, that was a long introduction – what about the websites?
You’re right, that was an incredibly long lead up – but I think it was important so just bear with me a little longer!
On the surface, many of the major factors we consider in purchasing coffee aren’t easily communicable through a website. This may be why some on the best Bristol coffee shops, like Baristas Coffee Collective off Victoria Street and The Crepe and Coffee Cabin on Prince Street, trade successfully without a website at all.
Others, including Small St Espresso have incredibly basic webpages that function as an online business card.
So, why should your coffee shop a website at all?
Some of your potential customers will have specific questions that will be driving their next purchase, such as:
- Checking basic information like opening hours (availability) or special dietary requirements (range)
- Evaluating the venue as a personal or business meeting location (facilities)
- Investigating after seeing physical location or receiving a recommendation
A website allows you to communicate how you meet these needs before your competitor does. Always remember that your customers are looking for the first solution to their coffee desire, not necessarily the perfect one.
The information you need to include
The best coffee shop websites communicate how they meet the conditions the customer needs to satisfice. The obvious place to start is with the decision factors you can easily display online:
- Range and price; Include your menu or summary/description of what’s available
- Facilities; A picture or gallery of your coffee shop
- Location and availability; Address and map, opening hours
Two Day Coffee Roasters’ website contains all of this information in a structure that is easy to navigate. Sure, the appearance is a little dated but in terms of information availability, it’s hard to fault.
Tradewind Espresso is nearly the opposite of Two Day Coffee Roasters, they have one of my favourite aesthetics for a coffee shop website, but it lacks a drinks menu and there’s no images of the actual café – which is a particular shame as it’s a really lovely shop.
That’s it. That’s everything you need to address the majority of customer visits. End of blog post.
Ok, not really. That may be what you need, but the next bit is what sets you apart.
Throw your personality all over the place
This is the reason I wrote this blog post. In reality, coffee shop websites do not need to communicate much information at all – which means you have so much room to play and to create a really unique digital presence.
Normally, I talk about how vanity and narcissism can be the downfall of any business’ marketing efforts. However, for coffee shops – it can be a really good idea to focus on being unique and beautiful (as long as you’ve already covered the basics, which is where Tradewind Espresso fell down).
By having a creative website, you can help your customers envision how you meet the other factors in their decision making – environment, indulgence, personal service, even taste and consistency.
When researching this post, the site that frustrated more than any was from Playground Coffee. This shop has some of the best coffee out there and by far the most playful décor and fittings – it has its own swings! But the website is so confused and so bland in comparison. It’s not only missing a few of the basics, but others are buried under strange and superfluous headings.
They also have some really lovely images, but they’re easy to miss when hidden, too small or used as backgrounds instead of being able to sing for themselves.
The best coffee shop website in Bristol
When it comes to the best coffee shop website in Bristol, there’s two businesses that are miles ahead of the competition: Brew Coffee Co and Full Court Press. Both cover all the basics and have bags of personality.
I’ve spent the last 15 minutes agonising over which of these two I think deserves the title, in fact my colleagues around me have probably seen me write both brands down 3 or 4 times before deleting them again.
I do think that Full Court Press have edged it, because not only is their site beautiful and practical, but it’s also memorable. This site has an incredible attention to detail, full of beautifully-written, useful information and an image selection that, although smaller than some of the other websites, perfectly capture the atmosphere and environment of the shop itself.
Now I’ll finish off this article by saying that the examples mentioned are all businesses of which I’m a massive fan, and all make excellent coffee. I am also aware that all of these examples are either next to my house, next to my office, or between the two. So, I’d love to hear from you – what coffee shops do you think have great websites?