SCAA Symposium: “Understanding The Consumer&...

SCAA Symposium: “Understanding The Consumer”

A landmark presentation from this year’s Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Symposium is now available to view online. The presenter is former SCAA deputy executive director Tracy Ging (now with S&D Coffee), and the talk is titled “Understand The Consumer: New Research Profiling Specialty’s Most Enthusiastic Drinker.” It’s riveting, fascinating, essential viewing for the coffee professional and enthusiast alike, and was a real highlight of the 2012 Symposium conference.

For more on Ging’s presentation we turn to Erin Meister, who covered the 2012 SCAA Symposium event for

“SCAA deputy executive director Tracy Ging served up a slice of honest humble pie with a presentation about the motivations, behaviors, and perceptions of the specialty-coffee customer base, reminding us that for the average consumer, coffee is all about heart. Sparkly hearts, to be exact – just like the ones found on myriad collages depicting “What Specialty Coffee Means to Me” created by focus-group participants in the coffee-driven markets of Los Angeles and Portland, OR.

“The people who drink [specialty coffee] have the capacity to love it deeply,” Ging said in response to the groups’ collected results. “Something happens over a great cup of coffee that’s different than when you’re just grabbing a cup of caffeine.”

Ging reminded the attendees that while our customers do have a healthy curiosity about what they’re drinking and how we make that magic happen, they don’t want to be beaten over the head with it: In fact, many of them sound like they kind of need a big ol’ barista bear hug.

“They want a love affair, and we’re giving them altitude and rainfall statistics,” she said. Not every detail, and not at every moment. And hey, flash a smile every once in a while, okay?”


How does this perspective make you feel? Sound off in the comments below!


  1. Sammy

    13 March

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  2. Dana Paul

    9 December

    Very nice presentation, supported by meaningful research: the relationship between the artist and the observer does not yield easily to investigation and description! Explaining the details of how we move might destroy appreciation of our dance, yet we must bring our love of movement to our stage. Our deep knowledge of our art and craft is certainly admired by our “consumers”, and is evident in our “product”, but that insight might be more properly shared with fellow practitioners. Thanks for an interesting and provocative essay!

  3. Chris Deferio

    5 December

    Such a great talk. One that every barista should tell themselves before every shift. I hope more “Honest Talks” of this type take place and re-define what it means to serve great coffee.

  4. Laura Clark

    5 December

    This is so great. It’s definitely something good for anyone in the industry to watch.

    I feel everything I heard was different, but yet so familiar and makes perfect sense for the industry that we are in. I mean that’s how I got started in coffee, that love affair just got out of control that I had to be in it. In every aspect of it.

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