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Guest Blog is written by our friend of many years Hugh Gilmartin.

The Business of Coffee Conundrum

Don’t worry about Balance. Focus on Right Fit to get to Loyalty   

The coffee industry is familiar with the concept of balance. A balanced blend. A balanced cup. Balance. Interesting word. Reasonable people need a balanced perspective, don’t they? This of course depends on what actions you take and how bias these are.  And there is a problem with that. It can create complacency, a belief that one knows it all, and that there is very little we can learn or be taught. It leads to the term ‘confirmation bias’ which is rife in the coffee business and indeed many other businesses. It becomes accentuated in the coffee industry because entry as an expert is easy and unqualified.

It means people tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position and that is the great ‘See Do Get’ model. The way you see things affects what you do and what you do affects what you get. Let’s explore this one level deeper.

Action is commonplace. Much of it confirmation bias as described. Right action is not. As a discipline its not any action that will do it is focused action.  Step by step actions will dismantle the obstacles in front of us and identifying these obstacles are your first objective. Think 80/20. It is the best simple focusing tool I know. An interesting thought  – 80% know about it and only 20% use it!

The early years of the UK & Irish coffee Industry was the stuff of self-appointed leaders,  fuelled by enthusiastic industry experts who believed in the cause and delivered more than their fair share. It was a great thing and accelerated the opportunity for many. Not least the coffee explosion that arguably started on the US West Coast of Seattle, Portland & San Francisco. We moved through waves as they became named to a whole new post-COVID reality.

Today we are all effectively startups and playing a very interesting game across multiple arena’s. The way I make progress now is by focusing on Right Fit relationships. With these it is easier to get commitment and with that you can do authentic discovery to identify where the real obstacles are. These obstacles are the raw material for success. With these truths out in the open you can identify what the customer actually wants before you go and get it. That requires great backstage relationships to find the ‘Who not Hows’. Collaboration is a much abused term in a  lot of the marketing we see and the consumer is not so easily fooled. It is why the Right Fit is again imperative.

This gets us to the live stage which is to execute the optimum solution that makes sense individually and package the story around a set of tools, strategies and products that delivered in the right sequence leading you and your business to growth. With a good measurement process and structure in place this growth mindset will inevitably deliver great results. This gives you freedom and the holy grail of marketing – Loyalty.


It’s as easy and difficult as that. And not usually balanced because everything has to make sense. Ask Peter!