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  • Tomas Lee

Animal vs Art+Science, TKO!


Today, the "Money Fight" (Mayweather vs McGregor)** is the most tweeted hashtag, also the reason why most men stays home or hits on a bar, but it's the best time for me to touring new coffee places (less crowded 😉).

Thru years, I have had thousands cups of coffee everywhere in the world, from Rome to Paris, the most romantic city I love, with full of good memory like a 7 minutes run from the observatory to the ground with a love one to catch a tour bus, to almost every major Asian cities. I really do enjoy my #COFFEETOUR and look forward to doing it more often and share with you all.

So, let's talk about these two independent cafes I visited in this week and make a brief comparison in their product, operation model, and business problems (threat). They're two of a kind. Just by their names themselves, you're already able to guess how far apart their styles are.

Rabbit Crew Coffee | DTLA, CA

Products Score: 80 Service Score: 80 Store Score: 80

Final {verdict}: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5

I first learnt their name from 'Hangrydiary', an IG food blogger I've been following (Love the works of those 2 young sistas but they do need better groundworks if eager to grow; That's a separate story for another time). I think their photo was taken from the Rabbit Crew's opening event, which invited a bunch of food bloggers to affiliate their story. Obviously, in that 1080px square block of IG photo, you won't be able to extract too much information out. So, I dig out more myself and bookmarked the name in my Yelp account for months. Until this week, I finally got my schedule free to pay a visit. DTLA, Echo Park and Silver Lake (the Great Los Angeles) are familiar turfs to me bc I used to hang out there during the college years, especially the famous Stumptown Coffee Roasters is right on the same 7th St. But, their first issue occurred right away was the parking. The street was packed during the workdays, even though off the epic center of downtown activities. And there wasn't any dedicated space for the store. You can choose to park in the nearby lots but will cost you a few extra bucks for the visit. Luckily enough, after driving around a few times, someone's leaving right outside the store. I stepped on my gas paddle and parked my pony inside the tight spot straight and neat. And the first impression about their door front under a sunny Cali day was a clean baby-blue colored brick wall with their signature rabbit head's neon light outside. On the sidewalk, also a small wooden billboard with the same company logo standing right outside. Nevertheless, both ain't thoughtfully designed to catch the attention of drive-by traffic. Too small. In prior of my visit, I did check out the photos on Yelp but couldn't imagine and judge how big the space really is until then. Whilst walking inside from the door, road bicycles from customers were parking by the metal bench. It's very spacey with a typical garage high ceiling. The grass lawn carpet with their name hanging on the wall was really catchy. Very bright bc the glasses windows allowed the sun shedding inside. Tables were sat with a few customers working on their MacBooks. Very simple staffing. The only Barista greeted me with a very friendly smile right away (In prior, he already welcomed me with a "V"ictory hand sign whilst taking the my first photo at the enhance) and explained their menu, but the expensive $13 Avocado Sandwiches immediately turned me off. I only ordered my usual - Almond Milk Latte. At the bar counter, there're some simple gears including grinders, a double units expresso machine, pastries and coffee bags for sales. It's very clean, quiet, and not much customer's foot traffic, which ain't a surprise bc of the limited parking spaces on the street. Occasionally, a few business casual dressed customers would walk in, ordered togo, and left. I then set my latte on the wooden bar table by the windows for some photos, then moved myself to the large conference table to continue my works for an hour before going to grab a ramen in Little Tokyo for lunch. The coffee is great. Very frothy, strong aroma favor, and the art was simple and elegant like the style the store pursued. Would I go back? Yes, but only when I need a quiet space to work nearby DTLA. Nothing's too wrong but its product and service didn't serve me a special memory that I can't proceed in where else. To survive, the roaster requires more elements to distinct itself from other strong competition in the downtown area, especially its location is a bit far off (15mins drive away from the Broad and the LAPHIL - Walt Disney Concert Hall) from the main activity area). Conclusion: it's a behaving breed, but no strong vibe nor sexy.

Art+Science Cafe | Pasadena, CA

Products Score: 75 Service Score: 70 Store Score: 70

Final {verdict}: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3/5

Not sure if their different latte art style shall consider the formation of art and science together, but definitely you can see they're trying hard to seek differentiation from other nearby competition like Copa Vida and Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea in Pasadena. Don't get me wrong. Product differentiation is always a positive thing, but you have to ensure your product strategy catering/meeting the demand of majority market; otherwise, it's a risky move to sail into the 'Blue Ocean'. It didn't take me long to figure the exact location of their store, but parking was also troublesome bc resided in a small alley with very limited parking. Plus, their tiny parking lots at the back has no more than 7 parking space, where majority was reserved parking for other tenants. And be also noticed the very tight space is super-challenging to make an U-turn backing out in the very narrow driveway for any un-skillful driver. Meanwhile, the red brick cottage was very noticeable on that street. As expected from the size of their storefront, the interior space was compact fitting no more than 20. They also have a small open patio by the side for customers. Regardless, the gold-colored decorations - Shark head, gold teeth T-rex with a gold chain, and a gold heel at the entrance (not in the pictures) really caught my eyes. Ordered a Matcha Latte. And totally impressed by the custom "Pokemon" latte art created by the female barista. I also peeked at other customers' cup to see if the art's personalized to everyone and they did. Besides that, the cafe tried to increase revenue stream by renting out its space to host special events. A good idea if generating more cash flow than normal business hours; bad if not. Sat on a white bar table with full of dried coffee stink marks for two full hours to work but actually made observation about its traffic flow and customer behaviors. Also, the baristas. They went socialized only with a table of usuals, or else, sat at the very back table and worked on their own laptops, and left the bar counter empty most of time. Since the cafe serves free wi-fi, customers were just sitting with only a single order of coffee thru their stay, which prevented higher table turnover rate. A few new customers checked from outside thru the glass windows and gone after seeing no open table. Despite all, it's a pleasant visit for me. A thin layer of Matcha froth stayed at the bottom of latte cup after my last sip, whereas it represented a good quality presentation. But... one thing had eased all their credits afterward. Before I left, I walked to the back visiting their restroom. At the lobby, it stacked with a pile of unorganized boxes of inventory. Even though the laboratory was clean, but full of paper towels on the floor from the customers. For food business, it's extra important to build a flawlessly clean presentation in the kitchen and restrooms. You may not have the best food or beverage in the industry, but you must have a Grade "A" issued by the Department of Public Health hanging outside the door to gain the first step of your customers; And there's no otherwise.

I think you already knew who won the "Money Fight" or the battle between the two cafes in here.

No matter which business you are in, the principle is the same - creating a seamless, pleasant customer experience.

**Estimated 3 millions people watched the illegal streaming of the "Money Fight", which also represents a revenue loss of $300M ($100 for the traditional pay-per-view) to Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation.

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