My Very Special Father’s Day

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The boys took Maxine and me out to dinner and a movie for Father’s Day on Monday night. I guess I shouldn’t call our sons “boys” because at 25 and 22, they have truly  become remarkable men. Before I go any further, I just want to say how proud they made me feel. They took the initiative, made decisions and took charge of the evening. Not only that, they paid for everything.

Jeremy (the eldest) has not been an adventurous eater in the past. As we were trying some exotic dips with our appetizer, I was surprised to see him taking some.  When I commented on it, he said, “I found it is safer to try new things at a fine restaurant.” Interesting observation, I thought.

Jarell (the younger) on the other hand, is willing to try new things and likes to experiment greatly with different combinations of flavors.  While that is fun, he sometimes lacks the experience to know what works best for him.

As I observed this, I realized that while I refuse to be set in my ways and will continue to try new foods, I am also of the age and experience to know what I like and what I do not like when it comes to certain foods (like Brussels sprouts).

Case in point….there was a vendor next to us last Saturday’s farmers market who makes his own mustards. While my wife had a ball sampling and eventually buying his product, I did not bother to even sample his products.  I have tried enough variety of mustards throughout the years to understand that I am a French’s yellow mustard guy. I am also a Heinz Ketchup and a Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce guy

Knowing name brands or knowing the chef gives one the confidence to buy their products, simply because you know the quality of the product. 3 years ago I became a coffee roaster. Now I will only buy, roast and sell the world’s finest coffee. We have made sure that our brand Tap Dancers specialty Coffee has become synonymous with that of high quality.

If you have not finished trying and experimenting with coffees, why not try our product and see if you are ready to make Tap Dancers Specialty coffee the one you stick with for life.

The Power of Three

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The number 3 has had significant meaning throughout history.  Time itself is divided into 3….past, present and future.  “According to Jewish law, once something is done three times it is considered a permanent thing.” – Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian). The ministry of Jesus lasted 3 years on Earth and His resurrection was on the third day….3 is definitely a victorious number. It’s exciting to think about our company as permanent and victorious.

Although it feels more like a little while ago that we made the decision to start Tap Dancers Specialty coffee. We are officially 3 years old this month (March 2015).

Last anniversary we talked about the past and the lessons learned through our mistakes. While it is important to remember times like smoking up the entire warehouse so bad I couldn’t see the other side of the warehouse, this year we are way more excited about our future and what it will bring.

At present, we are excited and frankly dumbfounded at times to be invited to participate in more and more events. Instead of us going out and finding where to market our coffee, things are coming to us. We even get to be a picky about which events we choose. We have a ways to go and we are absolutely grateful for this journey that we get to experience. We are even more grateful for people like you who are encouraging us and cheering on to our next levels. It makes us want to be better at everything we do.

I used to joke that we are “almost world famous”, but recently I checked on where our emails are read and we were humbled to discover that we have people from as far away as Japan, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and South Africa that read these emails. We also have several countries represented in our Facebook profile including The Philippines, Sweden and Serbia. This year our coffee has actually been sent to and enjoyed in The Bahamas!

We have developed a great relationship with a direct buyer from Guatemala and currently we are in the beginning stages of developing relationships with folks from Mexico and Colombia. In just three years I can say that Tap Dancers Specialty Coffee has become known throughout the world.

What is our goal this year besides growing and keeping our commitment to the world’s finest coffee roasted fresh for you?  We hope to begin to make more positive differences in our local community and our world by supporting organizations that help individuals and families get to their next level. After all, isn’t that one of the purposes which we were created for….making a positive difference?

Inflexible and Uncompromising

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Last week I wrote about the importance of being agile and flexible. Just after we sent out our email, we had an order requesting to grind our coffee before delivering it. This request had me over a quandary.  I realized that we said we were flexible. Now what do I do?  My immediate thought was NO! We will only sell whole beans. After I took a breath and calmed myself, I will admit that the answer did not come quickly. The reality is only 8% of Americans buy fresh whole beans. Also, ground coffee isn’t just outpacing whole bean coffee; ground coffee is increasing its lead each year.  After looking at the facts and re-examing our no grind position, We decided to stand firm on the no grinding issue……we simply want your last cup to taste as great as your first.

Coffee sales graph
Coffee sales graph

I also have been very adamant and outspoken about K-cups. I will confess that we looked into having our coffee packaged in K-cups.  Why did I look into the possibility of coffee pods? Sales of coffee pods have grown by a blistering 138,324 percent — yes, 138,324 percent — over the past 10 years, according to data from Euromonitor. They have jumped more than tenfold since 2009 alone. And they’re still rising at an annual clip of more than 30 percent.

K-cup sales graph
K-cup sales graph

But, for us to make a profit, we would have to sell the pods from $1.50 to $2.00 per pod.  That is with us doing a volume discount of producing 5000 pods at one time. The packaging company asked how I came up with that price? I told them I was basing it off of using 14 grams of coffee per pod. Their response?…..”Do like everyone else does and cut it down to 7 grams per cup to drop the price.” Hmmmm….so you want me to compromise both having ground coffee AND less coffee than I should per pod?  Did you know that the pod packaging is more expensive than the coffee itself?  Again, we decided to stand firm on our no pod position.

So while we are agile and flexible, we are also inflexible and stubborn. Instead of stubborn it sounds better to say uncompromising. As a brand, Tap Dancers Specialty Coffee stands for something. What it stands for is more important than market share. After all, like my father always told me, “if your name doesn’t stand for something, then it means nothing” We are Tap Dancers Specialty Coffee…..the world’s finest coffee roasted fresh for you. And that’s who we intend to keep on being.


Agile and Flexible

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During my time as a stock broker, I watched new startups try to take on their big established competitors. The successful startups had two characteristics that set them apart.  They were agile and flexible.  Agility is an ability to think quickly and to be mentally acute or aware. Flexibility is the susceptibility of modification or adaptation.

The story of David and Goliath is a great example. Goliath was a giant who spent his life in warfare. He had the finest weaponry available and armament to match his extensive combat training. When David made the decision to battle Goliath, established wisdom (in the person of King Saul) told him to take on the same type of armor and weapons.  But David knew he could not win the battle by matching Goliath’s method of battle.  He was an accomplished warrior in his own environment and he understood that he needed to depend on what worked for him (slingshot, stones and trust in God).  We all know how that story ended.

For Tap Dancers Specialty Coffee to become successful, we understand that we have to be agile and flexible. Our agility comes in our unique marketing efforts.  We ask you to try our coffee. We know our coffee is the finest coffee sold in Omaha so the next step is to have you order a bag.  Receiving a bag of our “specialty grade, roast to order, personalized door to door service coffee” for such a great price point is difficult for folks to really comprehend.  We cannot deny that we are trying to court our customers to fall in love with what we do and with our coffee.

The next step progression for a customer is to become a regular subscriber.  Here is where we show off our flexibility. We offer more options to our subscribers than what is available online. Along with weekly or bi-weekly orders, we also are able to accommodate anyone’s preference (once every three weeks, monthly or some other option). We offer the option of a 16 ounce bag exclusively to our subscribers, because for some of them, a 12 ounce bag will not last them long enough between deliveries.

My wife has shown an even deeper level of flexibility because she works with people’s budgets when it comes to gifts.  She has created everything from custom $15.00 gift bags to $200.00 extravagant baskets.

Because we are truly agile and flexible, we are able to adapt to your specific needs and wants, instead of us dictating to you how to buy our coffee.  We love leaving the power of options where it belongs….in the hands of our customers.

The Bag

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Our goal at Tap Dancers Specialty Coffee is to create value by doing everything to the finest levels available. The bags we use to package our coffee are a true testament to our philosophy.

This blog was very difficult for me to write, because the deep temptation to name names and rant about the cheap packaging many other coffee roasters use was difficult to overcome.  I am maturing to the place where I will not go there in formal communications.  I will tell you the “whys” about the bags we have chosen to use for our beans. I am proud of the fact that we chose not to compromise the freshness of our beans by providing simply the best packaging available.

There are a couple of things we have to consider to ensure our coffee retains all of its goodness until you drink it. One is keeping the coffee fresh. Once coffee is roasted, the bean expels carbon dioxide and absorbs oxygen. It is the absorption of oxygen that creates a stale coffee.  This process of expelling and absorbing within the coffee bean cannot be slowed down (no matter what the temperature).  The process speeds up however, with exposure to air so it is important to keep the coffee as air tight as possible after the roast.

The other thing we have to be aware of with coffee is that it is very absorbent. Not only do we have to be concerned about outside moisture, we have to be concerned about what the beans come in contact with. Metallic foils (like aluminum or tin), plastic, cardboard and yes, even kraft paper will ALL taint the taste of coffee.  Is that surprising?

The bags Tap Dancers Specialty Coffee uses to package our coffee address these concerns, while not being too inconvenient to use for the consumer. We use an impulse sealer to completely seal the bag. The side notches enable you to open the bag easily. The bags not only seal airtight, but are easy to reseal to help keep the air exposure to a minimum. The bags have a patented one way degassing valve. This valve insures that air only goes out and no oxygen comes back in.

The two additional special features of these bags are not visible. The bags have a high vapor barrier and a neutral lining. The vapor barrier keeps moisture out of the bag. If you tear open the bag and lick the inside of the bag you will taste nothing.  These features all help to insure your coffee retains its freshness and remains untainted.

Third Wave Coffee

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We are in the Third Wave Coffee era, here’s what that means.

Specialty grade coffee first got its name in 1974 by Ms. Erna Knutsen, now considered “The Grand Old Lady of Specialty Coffee”.

At the turn of the century, I discovered specialty grade coffee after years of searching for that great cup of coffee.   A few years later I became a home roaster, and shortly after that, I dreamt of owning my own specialty coffee roasting business.

Up until now, small roasters like me had a bit of an identity crisis and did not know what to call ourselves.  Several names were tried i.e. craft roasting, old world roasting, artisanal roasting, micro-roasting. But none of them seem to fit.

Led by the big three (Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea of Chicago Il, Stumptown Coffee Roasters of Portland Or, and Counter Culture Coffee of Durham NC) “third wave coffee roasters” became the term that is widely accepted for what we are doing.

Third Wave Coffee

The excepted definition of third wave coffee is accredited to Pulitzer Prize winning food critic Jonathan Gold who in 2008 wrote, “The first wave of American coffee culture was probably the 19th-century surge that put Folgers on every table, and the second was the proliferation, starting in the 1960s at Peet’s and moving smartly through the Starbucks grande decaf latte, of espresso drinks and regionally labeled coffee. We are now in the third wave of coffee connoisseurship, where beans are sourced from farms instead of countries, roasting is about bringing out rather than incinerating the unique characteristics of each bean, and the flavor is clean and hard and pure.”

The major knock on this wonderful high-end coffee is the elitism and snobbery that is quite often associated with the coffee.

Our goal from the beginning has always been to introduce specialty grade coffee to Omaha and let it be available to anyone and everyone who enjoys a great cup of coffee.

Our business model of having a warehouse instead of a retail location, relying on word of mouth versus expensive advertising, roasting to order and free delivery in the metro area, means we are able to offer a superior product at an affordable price.  Mostly, this enables folks from all walks of life to enjoy and experience this “third wave”.

To make it even more accessable, we have even created a Mobile Coffee Shop!

Tap Dancers Specialty Coffee, roasted fresh for you is simply the finest specialty grade coffee you can buy…….minus the snobbery. We are hoping you will jump on this third wave coffee ride, you won’t be disappointed.