#57 – Serving Specialty Coffee in Portugal Vl.2 – short marketing intervention



Some time ago, probably even a year ago, I wrote a post about serving specialty coffee in a country with high consumption of robusta, like Portugal is.

And now, the time passed, and like with any other thing, I think the moment came to repeat it, at the new level.

The scene grew immensly in comparison with how it was even a year ago. Lisbon started to attract lots of foreigh baristas to be working in coffee shops, and this is basically the way the problem of barista education is getting resolved at the moment. Baristas from the countries with relatively more developed coffee culture, like Brazil and Denmark, and Russia, are sharing their experience and point of view with Portuguese baristas – and the industry in general makes small steps forward.

I decided to write about it, again, because of the comment I got on my post, about the evil idea of educating the customer. The guy was writing that he understands my point of view, but how on earth to sell an espresso for 1,5 euros to the people who are used to pay for it 70 cents. He was talking about the importance of storytelling in Specialty, etc.

And I felt that it is the time to come back to it again.

If you go to the basics of marketing, you find out, that there are 2 mayor ways of working with peoples needs. The first one, is to find the need already existing, and satisfy it. The second is to create the need that haven’t existed before.

The second is much harder, less effective, and requires, I am not afraid to say, some marketing genious. But. I see everybody here in Specialty going this way. I don’t know, honestly, what are they expecting.

But the most important is to understand who is your customer.

And this is where people fail completely. Because your customer here is definitely not the one for whom the price matters so much. If 1,5 euros for espresso matters so much, it is not your customer, as simple as that. Your goal is not to persuade people who are used to pay 70 cents for espresso to pay more. Your goal is to find, attract and keep those customers for whom the price for the espresso is not the most important factor.


But it is my way of thinking, of course.


I know that many don’t agree with me, but I always say that quality comes first.

Quality. Comes. First.


Because what happens now here is that coffee shops want to educate the customer – while occassionally serving him sour underextracted espesso. And then getting suprised why it is a problem to pay 1,5 fo it.

I would also prefer italian blends like Buondi or Musetti, with 70 sents for the shot, to the sour underextracted espesso. And I am not kidding. Why? Because I  know that those guys invested in flavour, and are constantly investing. They are tasting, composing the blend to be tasting the same over the years, they have a team of tasters, scientists…

And what specialty coffee has to offer at level it is now here? Except for the hipster vibe and being “in fashion”?





Roasts are occasionally burnt, baked or underdeveloped. Baristas are still not using scales and refractometers to adjust their espressos.

I can continue the list, but I won’t.


It is not enough to buy specialty in green, to be considered that you are serving specialty coffee. Understand me right, to buy quality greens is the basis of all the other steps that will follow. But those steps has to follow.

The sweet developed roast has to follow. The well extracted sweet espresso has to follow.


We have lots of challenges in front of us, in almost all the directions. In green buying, in roasting, in brewing, in service. And yes, in marketing.


The problem here is not that the market is not willing to pay extra for the added value of the product, in this case specialty coffee. The problem is that sometimes there is no real added value. Or if there is, the sellers, the baristas, don’t know how to communicate it.

Those are the directions for us to go. Educate ourselves. Define clearly the added value. And understand who is our customer.




May you have the great start of the week.

Published by liza maksimova

Q Grader. Roast Master. SCAE certified.

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