A coffee riddle

December 17 2013

Which costs more?

Coffee #1

Before you reach the counter, a wide grin flashes at the sight of your arrival. You’re greeted, “Hello! How are you, sister?”  and asked if you’ll have your usual order — black coffee with sugar, no milk.

As your coffee is prepared, you settle in at the table overlooking the outdoor market. There are three additional chairs surrounding the table; sometimes you’re joined by others. Today you’ve brought a newspaper along, but your eyes dart from its pages to the women buying fresh vegetables and men catching up on local gossip.

A small porcelain cup is carried on a saucer and placed in front of you. The woman asks about your day, your family, your friends. When you’re ready to leave, a friendly “See you again soon!” accompanies your change.

Coffee #2

You wait in a line of patrons nervously checking cellphones and eagerly scanning a large billboard of beverage choices. At the front of the queue, the cashier grumbles for orders. “What can I get you?”

After you hand over payment, you step aside to wait in an additional line for your black coffee. Collecting your paper cup, you advance to a separate counter to retrieve sugar packets for your brew. Though you’d like to sit, all tables are full — some occupied by lone individuals — and you decide to leave, having hardly made eye contact or uttered more than a few words.

Which coffee would you pay more for?

Successful businesses offer an experience, a connection. They provide moments that allow the customer to step away from “life” just long enough to return changed (or inspired) in some way.

Note: The coffee described in the first scenario actually costs much, much less than the second; $0.20 USD compared to $1.78 USD. Write me if you’d like to learn more.