Customer Experience

The 9 Customers Who Will Go To Your Coffee Shop

By Scott Hokkanen

illustration of specialty coffees

You love them. You love to hate them. You can’t live without them. They’re your coffee shop customers! Every morning, your very own cast of caffeine-seeking characters amble into your business, bleary eyed and jonesing for their first (or fifth) hit of caffeine.

After a while, you start to notice patterns. Like the guy who’s asking questions about your new cold brew is always standing in front of your merch shelf. Or the woman who’s always ordering while on her cell phone starts to squirm if her double Americano takes more than two minutes to make. Something Lasaters Coffee & Tea know very well!

According to a 2018 survey by Reuters, 64% of Americans asked said they had a cup of coffee the previous day. With 10 million tons of coffee consumed yearly worldwide, there is a huge market for your product. That’s why it’s important to identify and understand the different types of coffee drinkers, so you know how to appeal to a wide range of them at your venue.

While customer profiling can only get you so far, all this categorization leads to one question: How do you keep all your customers happy?

Answer: Identify the most common characters who visit your shop – and the ones you want to attract – then focus on serving their needs first.

Here are nine customers who will visit your coffee shop and how to keep them happy and coming back.

1. The Coffee Nerd

comedic photograph of a coffee connoisseur

This coffee aficionado loves what you do – and maybe likes to talk to you about it while a line forms behind them. You’re all for chatting up customers about your new blend, but you’re also hyper aware of those less enthusiastic customers who just want their coffee, now.

How to Make a Coffee Nerd Geek Out for Your Cafe:

  • Invite them to your next coffee event. This customer is obviously invested in your brand, so you’ll want to nurture their interest.
  • Let them know you’d love to have an in-depth conversation and where they can find you at your city’s next coffee nerd get together. 
  • Offer seasonal or weekly specials. Changing it up will give these guests new ways to flex their depth of knowledge with other coffee lovers.
  • Host a seminar on how to properly brew and prepare different types of coffee. These aficionados want to soak up as much knowledge as possible.

2. The Wifi Obsessor 

coffee shop customer on laptop

No matter how many times you tell them the wifi password, they (and their devices) can’t seem to remember it. No matter how many times you point to the password’s location at your counter, they never remember to look. And if your connection goes down for even a minute, they’ll be the first ones to ask you what’s happening. While most people need wifi at their local coffee shop, this person likely works remotely full time and takes the obsession to a new level.

How to Connect with the Wifi Obsessed:

  • Make some cute cards that list your wifi password, laminate them, and distribute on the tables around your venue.
  • Create a digital loyalty program that gives customers incentives to purchase – especially multiple times a day. That way, they’re more likely to keep making purchases while they camp out at one of your tables.

3. The Freelancer/Artist/Influencer

coffee shop customer listening to music on headphones

…who does, what again?

This person is definitely no slave to a nine-to-five schedule, but they hang out almost daily and you know they’re working hard at something. Sometimes they bring in other creative types for meetings, but you’re not exactly sure what they discuss during said meetings. They mostly like their coffee black, but they can appreciate some great latte art, too.

How to Keep Freelancers Happy Between Gigs:

  • Ask them about what they do. Artists and freelancers live off their networks, and you may just know someone who can hire their services. They’ll remember that you took an interest and probably choose to hang out at your spot when they land another gig.
  • Tell them about the deals. Since they don’t always have steady work, freelancers have to take a more hands-on approach with their finances, keeping a close eye on their budget. They’ll appreciate you offering them ways to save or get the most for their money.

4. The Socially Conscious Hipster

coffee shop customer grinning at the camera

Similar to the Coffee Nerd, this person will not shut up about the type of bean they love but also insist on knowing where it comes from. The socially conscious coffee hipster serves an important function in society by holding establishments accountable to the coffee world at large, namely the workers who harvest the beans.

Which is great! You could talk about that for days. But you have a business to run, and they don’t. If you want to avoid the wrath of the socially-conscious hipster, make social responsibility your plan A.

How to Be a Haven of Conscious Consumerism: 

  • Buy fair-trade beans from your vendor and post the story of your beans somewhere in your coffee shop.
  • Eliminate single-use plastic straws and opt for recycled paper instead.
  • Donate a portion of funds from a specific drink or food item to a charity or community project that aligns with your mission statement.
  • Provide separate bins for litter, plastics, metals, paper, and organic waste, and include clear instructions on what to put where.

5. The Anxious Speed Demon

coffee customer dashing through the city with takeout coffee cup

You can feel the anxiety coming off of this customer. They’re either late for a meeting or their boss is breathing down their neck.

Just like an auto-racing pit stop, the goal is to get them in and out as fast as possible, so they can stay in the race. They’re stressed and in a hurry and don’t have time for any shenanigans that don’t involve getting their caffeine, stat.

How to Make Them Happy in a Hurry: 

  • Offer order-ahead options through your POS loyalty program.
  • Have counter take orders in line with a mobile POS
  • Use a Kitchen Display POS System to make sure your barista prepares their order exactly to their liking.

6. The First-Daters

two people meeting on a first date

A coffee shop is the perfect setting for a first date – a familiar and (sometimes) quiet space to get to know someone. A five-star restaurant or trip to the carnival can be a little much when you barely know someone, and that’s why a coffee shop atmosphere will always be a first date staple.

You definitely want to capture these future love birds! In a study by online dating app Zoosk, it was determined that across all age groups, the two most popular date ideas were coffee or dinner. But for women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and older, coffee was the obvious winner.

What do these customers order? Maybe an Americano, if they’re trying to play it cool. Or maybe they have a deep love of pumpkin spice lattes and want to make that clear from the first date. The point is, they’re going to order a drink that lasts, so if the date goes well there’s a reason to linger.

These are some of the best coffee shop customers around: always on their best behavior, dressed to impress, and likely to spend a little more to try and make that good first impression.

Make Them Fall in Love with Your Shop’s Trendy Vibe:

  • Design your shop to be aesthetically pleasing with local artwork and other conversation starters.
  • Provide comfy seating in addition to your tables – maybe even a few throw pillows.
  • Use atmospheric lighting, edison bulbs, lamps.
  • Keep the music light and low, providing some background noise to fill in those inevitable awkward silences but not so much that it drowns out the magic.
  • Be sure to leave them be, so they can focus on each other. If it’s a great experience, who knows, it might become their “spot.”
  • Check out our best tips to turn a first time customer into a long-term customer.

7. The Chit-Chatter

two customers on a coffee shop patio

Community center by day, coffee shop by night. Sometimes people use a local coffee shop as a communal place to sit down and chat. The chit-chatting customer, often retired, commonly travels in packs and is always up for a lively discussion. Chit-chatters talk about politics, sports, pop-culture, or what’s better: coffee or tea. One thing you know for sure is they are going to sit in large groups and be there for hours. 

How to Stimulate the Conversation:

  • Use your coffee shop POS to design a restaurant floor plan that accommodates large groups while giving privacy to smaller tables. Your POS can help you manage these multiple sections of the restaurant with ease.
  • Have a no-wifi hour. A Chicago café called Kibbitznest, has actually banned Internet usage to encourage conversation.

8. The Avid Reader

coffee shop customer reading a book

Page turners and coffee – the best combination since cappuccinos and ice.
Avid Readers are always looking to find a little nook where they can settle in and get lost in the pages of a good book. They’re adventurous customers who love snacks and trying all sorts of coffee to find what they like. 

How to Make Sure They Don’t Turn the Page on Your Cafe:

  • Have tempting finger-food treats on hand, so they can enjoy snacks while keeping a hand free to turn pages. 
  •  Start a book exchange program (also known as a street library). Have a book? Leave a book. Need a book? Take a book.
  • Run a book club out of your establishment. Book clubs are one of many great entertainment ideas for cafes and restaurants to get people to come in the doors. Whether it’s a small event or an extravagant literary soiree, turning your place into an event space can be a smash hit with this crowd.

9. The Tea Lover

customer pouring hot water from a tea pot

Calling all tea enthusiasts! Coffee shops aren’t just for coffee drinkers. Tea is a massive global phenomenon. In fact, reports say that 2.16 billion cups of tea are consumed daily around the world. That’s a lot of tea and a lot of potential business for your restaurant.

How to Give Service That Fits These Customers to a Tea:

  • Offer a wide range of tea flavors to choose from, including selections of different bags and steeped teas.
  • Have pretty pots, cups, and saucers that add a touch of elegance for guests staying to enjoy their drink
  • Why not host a tea party? It can be Victorian style or a pre-Mother’s Day event. Either way it’s sure to bring people in.
Smiling barista standing in front of a modern coffee bar.
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Owning a coffee shop means you get a sneak peek into someone’s soul before they’ve had their morning brew, which really means you get to see people at their most vulnerable. Turn that knowledge into happy, regular customers and watch your profits soar.

Photo of Scott Hokkanen
by Scott Hokkanen

Scott is the Communications Coordinator at TouchBistro, where he examines and reports on the constantly evolving restaurant industry. Whether it’s digging into hot wings with the hockey game or searching for the best oyster bar around, he feels right at home.

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