How do you drink your cafe?

I’m what I like to call a ‘reluctant morning person.’ While I love getting into the office before everyone else (with the exception of Dan, who almost always seems to beat me) so I have time to check emails, read Google Alerts, scan my favorite blogs, and basically just get my day organized, I do so with bleary eyes and many grumblings. However, my mood noticeably takes a turn for the better after I have had my morning latte. I hate to sound high maintenance but I just can’t choke down the ‘real’ thing yet. Maybe someday I’ll be able to drink my coffee black, but until that time comes, I’m a large non-fat vanilla latte type of girl. Being that we are in Seattle, where coffee reigns supreme, I have an endless supply of coffee shops to choose from. In fact, there are six coffee shops within a three block radius of Curator HQ.

When I first started working here I made it my mission to find the best coffee around, so I went to every coffee shop that I could walk to (within reason; it’s hard walking a mile in 5 inch heels) and I began to notice a few things about the curated experience in each café. Here are a few of the more interesting things I’ve noticed:

Caffé Umbria is a great local coffee shop, that was established in 1986 by a local Italian family who wanted to create an authentic Italian bar experience. Pictures of the Bizzarri family are hung on the exposed brick walls, along with a short history of the café that makes you feel like you’re a part of the family. While their coffee is the best around (in my opinion), it is their curated atmosphere that keeps customers coming back. It’s not an internet cafe so people come to hang out and spend time reading and visiting with other patrons. As soon as you walk in you can tell that this is a friendly, laidback place that values family, culture, and excellent coffee.

If you prefer to just grab your coffee and go, there is a Starbucks right across the street from Curator HQ. As far as Starbucks goes, this one is like any other.  Starbucks has done an exceptional job of creating an experience around their brand, which is one of the reasons they are so successful. In fact, just this morning when I was waiting at the crosswalk to head over to Umbria, I heard a woman on her cell phone telling her co-worker that she just had to grab a Starbucks then she’d be right over. She called her coffee ‘a Starbucks’, not ‘a coffee’. To me, this is proof that Starbucks has curated the ultimate customer experience.

If you’re like the majority of working professionals, you need some form of caffeine to get your day going, so the next time you fuel up, I challenge you to look around your favorite coffee shop and think about the reason you go there. As a customer, how have they curated their brand to not only bring you in the door, but keep you coming back for more?