The Disneyland of Coffee & Business Takeaways

I am ridiculously lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest – and not just for the three months out of the year that it’s sunny. There are many fun things to do between Seattle and Vancouver, BC and now Seattle has the first Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room to add to its iconic “Fun” list.

First of all, this place is the Disneyland of Coffee. It’s like a Willy Wonka set come to life, with copper coffee tubing, gorgeous wood paneling and custom lamps everywhere. It’s 15,000 square feet of luxury coffee messaging. It’s clear that it’s a Starbucks when you walk in but it’s a Starbucks that’s been upleveled, that whispers sophistication, gravitas and just begs you to walk downstairs to explore.

And downstairs is where the magic begins. Behold: the Siphon. This amazing coffee machine looks both futuristic and Jules Verne-like in its make-up. What it does produce is an amazing, $10 cup of coffee. And before you spit your homemade joe out, yes, it’s one-zero, ten, dollars for ONE cup of coffee. Would I buy it again? Yes. Was it better tasting than a Folger cup of coffee by a full 20 times? Probably. But what I’m more excited and happy to pay for is the 15 minutes of experience that goes into making, watching and tasting that coffee.

RoasterFrom the moment you walk into the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, everything is elevated; there is someone that greets you to tell you about the store, there are maps, there are Tom Douglas-created kale salads and there is exclusive, carefully curated non-Starbucks and Starbucks Reserve merchandise. After you wind your way through the coffee house, there are a set of oversized stairs that lead down to the actual tasting bar.

collageThe tasting bar is marked as an exclusive experience because, 1: it probably seats 25 people max and 2: the actual bar is small. It’s designed for intimacy, for close conversation and for the true coffee connoisseur. When I was there, a group of four people were there, furiously writing down their coffee tasting notes and coffee thoughts in little well-worn books. They were not amateurs!

MissionI had instant business takeaways while in the store. Since leaving, I’ve wondered how to implement them at Bramble Berry, Otion, or Handmade Beauty Box. I’m still pondering that. My thoughts on the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and business:

1. People pay for experience. You don’t need to be the Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds of Coffee. There is an entire subset of the population that values every detail, the relishes being part of something larger and is enthralled by the sheer hooplah around it all. It’s the reason that those taffy shops by the seashore have windows that you can watch the taffy pulling machines, the reason that Disneyland flourishes and why box seats at sporting events exist: engagement.

Ideas on where a Maker can take this? Behind the scenes videos or blog posts, mini demonstrations when selling at markets, manufacturing hours where customers can watch you produce. All these things give your customers a better sense of who you, your products and brand are. It also gives them a sense of participation which creates a stronger bond with your brand.

2. Top notch attracts top notch. Starbucks built the most gorgeous coffee shop I’ve ever seen. Partners (Starbucks calls its employees and baristas ‘partners’) were clamoring to work there. Starbucks moved people from all over the nation, the best of the best, to work at the store. This supports the amazing experience that allows Starbucks to charge $50 for a pound of Reserve coffee.

Ideas on how a Maker can use this? If you’re trying to sell a $65 scarf or a $12 bar of soap, every detail must be well-thought out and perfect. When each detail is immaculate, people will take notice and want to be a part of it!

3. It’s the storytelling. The coffee ambassadors at Starbucks Roastery rattle off the virtues of the particular rare coffees they are brewing and serving that day; everything from where it is grown (Pango Pango for me), to the flavor profile (spicy herbal notes), to the schools that Starbucks has helped to build for over 100 Sulawesi families. This sense of place evoked a feeling, a richness of experience that anchored me more in the “this is special, this is to be savored,” feeling that the Reserve store is designed to produce.

Ideas on how a Maker can use this? Your ingredients ARE better than mass produced, store bought products. Talk about where your ingredients come from, tell the story about how you support non-profit causes and give a sense of place to the products you sell.

 4. You can have the high end and the high high end. Starbucks Reserve cafe has different pricing and products than the traditional Starbucks stores. And while Starbucks stores have never been accused of being economical, the Reserve is unapologetically high end with exclusive beans, unique menu items and a drink menu that is suspiciously missing those Double Grande Frappuccino Caramel Whipped Cream concoctions (clearly, a true connoisseur would never touch those, right?).  They are having their cake (cafe!) and eating (drinking!) it too.

Ideas on how a Maker can use this?  You can cater to both a high end, as well as the high high end customer and market. Having different price points attracts different consumers, and this is a good thing. Keep in mind products at different price points should still be cohesive with your brand. If targeting two different price points, make sure that the lower end products do not detract from the high end. Vice versa, the lower price point should not diminish the value of the high end products. It’s all in how you market them!

Have you visited a store or place recently that has inspired you? I was so impressed with my experience at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. I left feeling energized about coffee (and this wasn’t just the caffeine talking), and Starbucks in general. And when leaving a store, or experiencing a brand…isn’t that how we want to feel? Striving to create a sense of community, participation and excitement is something every business owner should aspire to. 

Soapy Social Media Roundup

Every now and then a little silliness in life necessary, don’t you think? I’m glad my team agrees. Below (right), the team and I pose for a fun picture during a Boys and Girls Club Bingo Fundraiser. It’s awesome to spend time together outside of the office, especially when it’s for a good cause. A few of us even won at Bingo! 

In more “serious” business news, I had the opportunity to speak on the latest Indie Business Network podcast, “Women, Wealth and WOW!” hosted by Donna Maria, click here to listen. In addition, I’m giving two talks at the Central Soapers Workshop in Kansas City along with other talented soapy experts on March 21st. If you can’t travel to Kansas City, the workshop also offers a virtual registration option. I hope to see you there! I was also a guest on the Business Bootcamp Podast this week. You can listen to that here. Now, let’s get to my favorite tweets, pins and ‘grams from the week. 


Left to right, clockwise:

The team and I have been obsessed with everything mermaids recently. Below, mermaid-inspired nail polish shades are in the works! Be on the lookout for mermaid inspired projects on the blog soon.

10449050_1013003215394508_1501576113_nBelow (left), I demonstrate the “frozen spoon trick,” during the Handmade Beauty Box virtual craft party. You can watch that entire 18 minute LIVE crafting session here (don’t judge; it’s hard to talk and demo with no editing or script!) =) This handy trick is a great way to test lipstick colors before pouring into containers. On the right are a box of yummy macarons that the office snacked on. Have you tried making macarons before? They are tricky, but so worth it!


 To keep up with the latest soapy social media throughout the week, you can follow me on TwitterTumblrInstagramPinterest, Vine and YouTube. Annnnnnd, Snapchat. Yup. I’ve joined up. To watch my ‘stories’, add me. I’m Bramble-Berry on Snapchat.

Facebook and Instagram Photo of the Week (Feb. 21st ~ Feb. 27th) + Spring 2015 S.O.A.P. Panelists

Thanks to everybody who entered to be a part of the Spring 2015 S.O.A.P. Panel! It was beyond hard to choose only eight panelists out of nearly 100 entries. We are excited to announce the new panelists, and can’t wait to hear what they have to say about the mystery fragrances. Scroll down to find out who made the panel.

Spring 2015 S.O.A.P. Panel

Estrellita of The Mama Juju
Kevin of Devinely Designed Products
Jennifer of Skyline Soapworks
Candice of Candy Body Factory
Andrea of DJ’s Creek Farm
Maureen of Reeny’s Butterflies Blooms and Bees
Shelly of Lion and Rose Soap
Eren of Eren’s Creations

Congrats panelists! We are thrilled to have each of you on the S.O.A.P. panel, and can’t wait to hear what you think about the eight new mystery fragrances! Please e-mail us at sma2(at)brambleberry(dot)com with your shipping information so we can get you the mystery fragrances. We will package and ship the fragrances out no later than March 3rd. 
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Pikake Flower Bath Bombs

When a tropical vacation is not a possibility, fragrance can transport you to new locations. These bath bombs are scented with Pikake Flower Fragrance Oil. The pikake flower is commonly used to create Hawaiian leis and has a lovely floral scent. Rosy Pink La Bomb colorant gives the bath bombs a feminine color, and rose petals add a finishing touch. Toss these bath bombs in the tub to fill your bath with the scent of Hawaii!

Pikake Flower Bath Bombs [Read more…]

Soapy Mess-Up Quick Guide

Soapmaking is an art form AND a science. It requires precise measuring of properly selected ingredients to initiate the saponification process. Temperature and time are also important in the chemical reaction between sodium hydroxide lye, water and oils. Because of its precise nature, mistakes are bound to happen. I have experienced plenty of soapy mess ups and still learn new tricks of the trade when soaping. Soapy mistakes happen to us all! Luckily, there methods to prevent and fix these blunders.
Soapy Mess Up Quick Guide

Below are some of the most common soapy mistakes, and ways to fix them. Many of these fixes include rebatching the soap, which involves melting the soap with a small amount of additional liquid. To see this process in action, check out this Soap Queen TV video. Also, check out the Tips & Tricks section of the blog to see a wide variety of in-depth posts about these soapy problems.
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Soap Photography Tips from Handmade in Florida

This is a guest post. Zahida is the creative force behind Handmade in Florida, a soap company known for its award winning designs (including the “Butterfly Swirl”) and  beautiful colors. In addition to gorgeous soap, Zahida is renowned in soapy communities for her eye catching product photography and is sharing her top 5 tips to help you improve your photography. If you’d like to learn more about Zahida, click here to read her interview on Soap Queen. – A.M. 

One of the first things people notice about my soaps are the photos. I have enjoyed taking photos since childhood and got my first “real camera” for my 7th birthday, a Minolta X-7. Since then, I’ve gone through quite a few cameras and countless rolls of film. I currently enjoy using the Nikon D7000 and Canon 70D. With the right equipment and a little bit of know-how, you too can take your soap photography to the next level! Here are my top five tips for taking photos of your soap.

collageA collection of Zahida’s beautiful soap, and a great representation of her stunning photography. You can find Handmade in Florida’s soap on Facebook, the web, Youtube and her blog.

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Spring 2015 S.O.A.P. Panel + Winter 2014 Results

It’s that time again; we are looking for eight new panelists for the Spring 2015 S.O.A.P. Panel! The S.O.A.P. Panel involves testing eight mystery fragrances in soapy projects. Throughout the testing process, keep us updated via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or your own personal blog. The testing notes and opinions are then used to help us decide which new fragrances to add to the spring 2015 line. Sound fun? Scroll to read more, and see the four new fragrances chosen from Winter 2014 S.O.A.P. Panel!

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