Last week I posted about the dilemma of anonymity for businesses, citing the example of Julian Assange at WikiLeaks. And this week, I’ve been thinking about another business dilemma, albeit on a more micro scale. And, lordy, it’s a frightfully middle class one. Anyway, darlings…
Whenever I cycle or drive home from my girlfriend’s flat in the morning, I pass a very nice little coffee shop. The staff always seem lovely, and they open earlier than anyone else in the area. The coffee is very tasty, too. However, on a few occasions I’ve asked them to make my coffee slightly hotter than they usually make it, as I like my throat to be scorched first thing in the morning. In a fairly polite way, they refused.
You see, if the milk is too hot when added to the coffee, it burns it. For a coffee purist, this is sacrilege – equivalent to cooking a £20 fillet mignon well done. And they would rather not give you anything than give you a ruined product. At this coffee shop, the same applies for decaf and iced coffee: they simply don’t do it.
One one hand, I understand them. They believe passionately in what they do, and in doing it right. But their principles imply that the customer is not always right, and this is a bold furrow to plough. It’s also potential business suicide – if you don’t give customers what they want, you can certainly expect them to go elsewhere, especially when there are a number of other great coffee shops in the area.
Again, I’m eager to know what you think. Should a business only supply products it fully believes in, and risk a slow death by good taste? Or should they give their customers what they want?