The Official Indie Coffee Shop Day Is. . .

I was struggling with deciding when to officially declare Indie Coffee Shop Day. When I picked the day, I had decided “the day before Record Store Day,” because my wife, Toni, and I believe in the philosophy of Record Store Day and everything they stand for.

However, from a calendar standpoint, “the day before Record Store Day” is a terrible way to set up an annual event. Besides, I don’t want the RSD guys to file an injunction or anything.

The other option was “the third Friday in April,” but that led to a different problem: once every 5 or 6 years, April 1 falls on a Saturday. That means the third Friday comes six days after the third Saturday, which totally screws up the “day before RSD” vibe I was going for. We face this problem in 2017, 2023, 2028, and 2035, and so on.

But — official announcement music, please — I decided to suck it up and just pick the third Friday in April as the official Indie Coffee Shop Day. We’ll just have to be six days after Record Store Day. Maybe we can turn it into a weeklong festival those years.

Does anyone know if there’s a Food Truck Day?

Indie Coffee Shop Day 2014 Recap

Indie Coffee Shop Day 2014 is now in the books, and for a first celebration that was actually launched a week before it happened — note to self: launch new holidays 6 months early — I was pretty pleased with the reception.

Without analyzing any of the numbers (mostly because my computer kept saying “Insufficient data to proceed. Are you kidding me with this?!“), we had a few coffee shops join up, several people from around the US and even Canada were tweeting the #IndieCoffeeShopDay hashtag, and I even made a contact with the Indianapolis Coffee Association and may be speaking to the group in May about social media marketing.

I’ve also gotten a lot of great ideas from people as a way to promote Indie Coffee Shop Day 2015, including flyers, postcards, and other materials that shops around the world can use to start promoting the event. I’m also going to start featuring coffee shops and letting them tell their stories so we can continue to add to this blog during our down time.

If you have any ideas or suggestions, please make them in the comments. And if you’d like to help volunteer to promote the event next year, let me know, and we’ll add you to the list.

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Remember, It’s “Indie” Coffee Shop Day, Not “Indy” Coffee

The one problem living in Indianapolis — Indy, to all the cool kids — is that it rhymes with “indie.”

This makes it hard when you’re trying to promote “Indie Coffee Shop Day” to all your friends, because everyone thinks it only applies to coffee shops in Indianapolis.

Venetia's Coffee Shop, 55 Chatsworth Road. Lower Clapton, E5, London, England

Venetia’s Coffee Shop, 55 Chatsworth Road. Lower Clapton, E5, London, England

It doesn’t. It’s about independent coffee shops all over the world. (And I’m confident in saying “all over the world,” because we have a new supporter, @TheMamaRuns in Alberta, Canada, which makes this an international day of observance!

Several years ago, I created a map and website called IndyIndieCoffee.com. The problem is, I can never remember which Indy/Indie goes first, so I always have to look it up.

And I started worrying that people would think it only applied to Indianapolis coffee shops. (I used to run into the same problem when I was a music reviewer for Indie-Music.com — they thought I was only writing about bands in Central Indiana.

So, the official word is that this day is not about coffee shops in Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s about local, independent coffee shops in any part of the world.

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When Exactly IS Indie Coffee Shop Day

The best way to remember Indie Coffee Shop Day, and its spirit of community, I picked “the day before Record Store Day.” That makes it pretty easy to remember. If you know when Record Store Day is, you know when ICSD is.

Except there’s a problem.

Record Store Day is always the third Saturday in April, no matter what. So it makes sense that ICSD is also the third Friday in April.

Because that makes sense, right?

Except the third Friday is not always the day before the third Saturday.

As my friend, Heather Sokol (@JustHeather), pointed out, sometimes the very first Saturday is April 1, which means the third Saturday is April 15th. However, that also means that the first Friday is the 7th, which puts the third Friday on April 21.

Six days after Record Store Day.

This will happen in 2017, 2023, 2028, 2035, and so on.

This presents me with a problem:

  1. Do we continue to list Indie Coffee Shop Day “the day before Record Store Day”? That would make it difficult for people to schedule, plus I don’t want to ride on RSD’s coattails like some caffeinated remora. My joke has been “ICSD officially happens the day before Record Store Day until they file an injunction.”
  2. Do we go with the third Friday of every April? That makes it easier to schedule, easier to count, and easier to remember. However, it completely ruins the whole “day before Record Store Day” thing for one year out of every 5 – 6 years.

What are your thoughts? When would you schedule it? We have a couple years before it’s an issue, but why wait until 2017 to solve it? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Coffee Shop Stories: Lulu’s Coffee and Bakehouse

As part of Indie Coffee Shop Day, we’re inviting independent coffee houses from around the country to send in their story and a little note about themselves. Our very first entry is Lulu’s Coffee and Bakehouse on the northwest side of Indianapolis.

My husband and I purchased Lulu’s Electric Cafe about 11 years ago. We had operated a deli and catering company for five years, and thought a coffee shop and bakery would partner well with it. We moved just a few blocks west a little over two years ago, renamed it Lulu’s Coffee and Bakehouse, and changed the menu up a bit.

We now have a comfortable, third place hang out with lots of food and beverage options. It is a beautiful, cozy, and welcoming facility. We were food specialists when we purchased Lulu’s initially, and the food menu grew. However, the coffee didn’t.

We have been researching and educating ourselves over the last several years to move into the third wave of coffee. The Indy Coffee Association, Coffee Fest, and Caffeine Crawl have all been great resources. We offer a full espresso bar with all the common drink choices, breakfast options, a full lunch menu, grandma’s pies, even tea parties for 2.

Some of our signature drinks include: a delicious Traditional Italian Cappuccino. It is 3oz of Espresso and 3oz of deliciously sweet steamed milk, our Iced Toddy Coffee, and our Loose Leaf Teas. You can now expect latte art on all hot drinks. This is incredibly important, because you can only produce art with quality steamed milk.

We are also, one of the only shops in town that offer multi midwest roasters. We buy beans from multiple roasters here in Indy, as well as, Louisville, Illinois, and Michigan. We currently offer these coffees in whole bean sales, and as a single extraction from an Aeropress. We will soon be offering up a Clever Dripper brew method as well. We will be rolling out our summer drinks in the next couple of weeks.

If you have any questions or need any more info just let us know. You can also check out www.facebook.com/luluscoffee and www.luluscandb.com. We are extremely active on Facebook.

Steve and Tiffany
Lulu’s Coffee +Bakehouse
2292 West 86th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46260

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Six Commandments for Indie Coffee Shop Customers

Independent coffee shops are a great place for entre-commuters — small business owners who work out of a briefcase wherever they can find free wifi — to get work done, conduct meetings, or just a place to sit and relax. However, many coffee shops are growing tired of the tech homeless because they take up space without ordering anything.

Here are the six commandments of coffee shops everywhere (not just the indies).

1. Buy something every 2 hours

That's my No Bullshit Social Media co-author, Jason Falls, at Hubbard & Cravens, 6229 Carrollton, Indianapolis, IN.

That’s my No Bullshit Social Media co-author, Jason Falls (left), at Hubbard & Cravens, 6229 Carrollton, Indianapolis, IN. Note the single person taking up the 4-top to his right.

Some coffee shops are limiting their wifi because people are taking up valuable space for several hours after only buying a $2 cup of coffee. THIS IS NOT YOUR MOM’S HOUSE! DON’T PARK THERE ALL DAY! Every hour that ticks by without you buying something eats into that business’ profitability. If they don’t make money, they can’t stay open.

You need to buy something every hour or two, and it needs to cost more than a couple dollars. Get a latte, get a muffin, get a sandwich. If you can’t afford it, then work from home or your local library. While a coffee shop is a nice home-away-from-home, it’s not your second home. Get up and give someone else a chance.

2. Better yet, limit your visit to half your battery life.

Other coffee shops, like Gorilla Coffee in Brooklyn, are covering up their outlets to reduce the number of people sucking up their electricity. Forgetting that it’s actually better for your laptop to run on battery power, rather than always being plugged in, keep in mind that it does cost the coffee shop money to power up our laptops all day long.

You can help save their electricity costs, as well as limit your time there, if you work without your power cable and then pack up and leave after you’ve gone through half your battery life.

3. Don’t turn rectangular tables into desks

Some coffee houses have rectangular 2-top tables, which often turn into solo seating for the tech squatters, which means these same coffee houses will sometimes fill up to exactly half their capacity. I’ve seen people walk into coffee shops and leave again because every table was taken by people working alone. Next time that happens, take a risk and invite someone to sit with you. Tell them you’d be happy to share the space with them, have a conversation for just a couple minutes, and then get back to work.

It’s worse when people turn these 2-top tables 90 degrees and make them their own personal desk space. Not only is it inconsiderate, it ruins the sense of community the coffee shop is hoping to create. These 2-top tables are ideally there for you and a friend to share a conversation. They’re not a desk for you to spread out all your textbooks or TPS reports. If you can’t limit your footprint to half the table, work at home or your local (or school) library.

4. Don’t take up a 4-top by yourself

A coffee shop is a restaurant, and they make money by squeezing in as many customers as they can, which means they want to maximize their table space. Just like some restaurants don’t like seating two people at a 4-top (a table with 4 chairs), coffee shops don’t like to have one person occupy an entire 4-top.

Understandably there are times where it can’t be helped. Maybe every 2-top is taken up, and the 4-top is the only one available, so go ahead and sit down. But be considerate and move when a 2-top frees up. Otherwise you may end up costing the coffee shop a 3- or 4-person order because those people didn’t feel like they had a place to sit.

5. Offer your table to someone who’s been waiting

When a coffee shop gets crowded, it’s usually a mad scramble to grab the next free table. The problem is, someone who’s been waiting for several minutes may get screwed out of a table by the guy who just showed up two minutes ago.

If the place is crowded and you’re leaving, catch the attention of the person who’s been waiting the longest and offer them your table. Don’t clear out until they’ve staked their claim.

6. Watch your neighbor’s stuff

At most coffee shops I visit, the veterans don’t need to ask someone to watch their stuff. We all do it for each other. We know not to let a stranger grab their computer or their purse. So I always smile a little when someone asks if I’ll watch their gear while they run to the bathroom.

Of course I will! That’s part of the indie coffee shop community; that’s just what we do. I may be a little spoiled, however, since we typically don’t have roving bands of hoodlums bursting into our shop and grabbing every unattended laptop they can find. Even so, keep an eye on your neighbor’s stuff, even if they don’t ask. It’s just a common courtesy.

 

What other expectations do you have for yourself in your favorite coffee shop? What coffee house sins do you silently judge others for? Share them in the comments.

 

Photo credit: Erik Deckers (used with permission)

Five Reasons to Support Your Indie Coffee Shop

It’s Indie Coffee Shop Day on Friday, April 18, 2014, and so we want to urge everyone to visit a local independent coffee shop on that day. It would be even better if you continued the tradition more frequently, checking out different indie shops in your city.

Here are five reasons to support your local indie coffee shop, regardless of the day.

1. They contribute to the local economy.

Caffé Bene 1611 Broadway New York, NY 10019

Caffé Bene 1611 Broadway New York, NY 10019

When you buy something at a national chain, like a big box store or mega-food franchise, only 13 cents of every dollar stays in your local economy. But when you spend money at your local small business, 40 cents of every dollar remains. If you want to boost your local economy, buy local whenever you can.

2. They’re artisans.

The baristas at your local coffeehouses learn how to properly create their coffee. They’re not just squeezing espresso syrups out of tubes or pressing a button on a dispensing machine. They learn how to properly grind the beans and pour the espresso. There’s a technique to it, and it takes some practice. I know some baristas who can tell if an espresso will taste bitter or not by how it pours.

3. They’re an ideal “third place.”

In his book, The Great Good Place Ray Oldenburg says that third places — a place that is not home and not work — are important for civil society, community, and civic engagement. A coffee shop makes an excellent third place. You can pop in for a quick pick-me-up before work, a calming beverage afterward, a quiet place to read, a place to have a meeting, or to get some work done. You can do all those things at home or work, but a coffee shop is a nice change of scenery.

4. They’re often family owned.

It’s a rare coffee house where the owner isn’t behind the counter, taking orders, making drinks, and cleaning up. There are a few, but even then, there’s a family member nearby, or the owner comes in every evening to tally up the total and make sure everything is ordered.

5. They’re often committed to the environment and fair trade.

The place where you’ll often see the biggest push for recycling and reducing, and buying fair trade and sustainable products, are independent coffee shops. They have recycling bins, they purchase recycled products, they make their grounds available for composters, and they ensure that their suppliers make a living wage. Corporate chain coffee does some of this too, but I see the local shops flogging environmental this and fair trade that like the world will end if you throw your paper cup in the trash.

Why do you visit your favorite local coffee shop? Leave a comment and let us hear from you.

Photo credit: Neo_II (Flickr, Creative Commons)

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New Indie Coffee Shop Day Logo

We have a new logo for Indie Coffee Shop Day, thanks to the Marketing Mercenary, Jerry “J.R.” Renkenberger.

Indie Coffee Shop Day logo

Big thanks to Jerry Renkenberger, the Marketing Mercenary in Kokomo, IN, for the great logo.

Jerry just emailed me on Saturday and said “Hey, I’ve got an idea for your logo,” and sent me a quick mockup. One quick color change later, and we were all set.

Jerry is a fellow marketer, based up in Kokomo, Indiana, and I’ve known him for several years. And now this is our first time working together. Thanks, Jerry!

Remember, Indie Coffee Shop Day is Friday, April 18, the day before Record Store Day. It’s the day people should forgo Big Corporate Coffee and support their local independent coffee shops. (Also, if you want to visit another indie coffee shop after you’ve hit your local record stores the next day, feel free.)

Indie Coffee Shop Day to be Held Friday, April 18, 2014

(Indianapolis, Ind.)—It’s one of the small pleasures of life. Sitting in a coffee shop with your favorite beverage, meeting with friends, reading a book, or getting some work done. For many people, a regular coffee shop is their home-away-from-home, or office-away-from-office. Independent coffee shops are often more highly prized because their presence in a neighborhood is often an anchor and meeting place.

So Indianapolis entrepreneur Erik Deckers created Indie Coffee Shop Day as a way to celebrate independent coffeehouses, and to encourage more people to find a favorite indie shop.

“Independent coffee shops contribute a lot to the local community,” said Deckers. “They add a flavor to their neighborhood, serving as an anchor point for people to connect.”

Indie Coffee Shop Day will be observed on Friday, April 18, the day before Record Store Day. All anyone needs to do to observe it is to forgo their traditional “corporate coffee” and buy from a local independent coffee shop instead.

“It’s wonderful timing,” said Deckers. “Record Store Day celebrates independent record stores and the rich musical heritage of vinyl records. Indie Coffee Shop Day is about celebrating the rich heritage of coffee and the shops that support Fair Trade coffee, single origin coffee, as well as the local roasters who provide the beans for our local shops.”

There are economic benefits of buying local as well. For every dollar spent at a local, independent business, $.40 of that money stays in the community. But every dollar spent at a large chain whose headquarters are in another city, only $.13 stays in the local community.

“Entrepreneurs and small business owners who have business meetings in coffee shops should be meeting in the local shops, not corporate ones,” said Deckers. “If you depend on the local community for your business, you should also support the local community.”

Deckers says that even small chains can be called independent, as long as their shops are local.

“Two of my favorite coffee shops in Indianapolis and Louisville — Hubbard & Cravens and Heine Brothers — have more than one shop in their areas. But I would still call them independent, because their stores and their money stay in the community.”

For more information, or to contribute a story, visit http://www.IndieCoffeeShopDay.com.

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