Small Coffee Shops Adopting The Fee-Based Business Model?

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Look around most coffee shops and you’ll see two types of customers. Let’s call them the Cuppa Coffees and the Cappuccinos.

The Cuppa Coffees are older and more likely to be male. They use terms like “tall” and “skinny” to describe their ideal secretary, not their coffee-based beverage. Even the term “coffee-based beverage” is alien to them. They drink coffee – and they’re lifers.

The Cappuccinos are younger and more likely to be female. Their favorite coffee-based beverages are more likely to be short stories with calories. They use terms like tall, grande, venti and skinny and are more likely to have an unhealthy relationship with caramel.

Lately I’ve noticed several small, individually-owned cafes try to increase their revenues by transforming the Cuppa Coffees into Cappuccinos. How are they going about this? By serving first-rate cappuccinos, world-class lattes and the kind of drip coffee one expects at a rural gas station. The message is loud and clear: if all you want to do is have a cup of filtered coffee you are not welcome here.

Starbucks – and larger coffee franchises generally – understand that most of the people who make the transition from filtered coffee to pumpkin spice latte have already done so. The small coffee shops I describe, on the other hand, seem to be adopting the fee-based business model of airlines: lowering the overall quality of their product in order to incentivize customers to pay fees (for carry-on bags, extra legroom, etc.)

Will it work? Leave your comments in the section below.

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Airport Security vs. Being Admitted Into Prison: A Comparison

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Passing through airport security seems more and more like being admitted into prison. First they confiscate two things: anything remotely sharp and… your belt. Then you’re standing in line with a bunch of barefoot people holding their pants up with one hand and their sole possessions in the other. The travelers who passed through security hours earlier are looking on and chanting “Fresh fish! Fresh fish!”

Now that I think of it that last part sounds too made-up to be a real memory.

Share your thoughts on airport security in the comment section below.

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Random Thoughts Monday: April 15, 2013

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My wife is on an errand, the boy is in kindergarten and the baby is asleep at my feet. Time to collect my thoughts.

I’m in the doghouse again. Actually, I welcome it because the wifi is much better. It’s almost as good as the silent treatment. What prompted it? A variation of my usual routine: I told Sabine I was going to pop down to the Edeka for some parmesan and instead I took train to Amsterdam. She’ll get over it. She always does.

Judging from the flak I get from her, the worst mistake I’ve made in our marriage is to use “air quotes” during the exchange of wedding vows. She is the most responsible person I know. We’re complimentary that way.

The other day she suggested that when I look at other women that I’m mentally comparing her to them. I tell her this is nonsense and it’s true: when I look at other women she’s the last thing on my mind. I think it’s going to be a long marriage. She’s never satisfied, especially when it comes to the baby. One minute I’m blowing cat litter off the pacifier and the next Sabine expects me to rinse it under running water. Well, no one forced me to get married.

Maybe she’s still upset about the SuperBowl episode. Our daughter Lucy was born during the SuperBowl so naturally I had to miss it. The doctors said she pulled through like a real champ.

It occurred to me the other day that I’m drinking too much gin but I can’t help but notice that Sabine is becoming quite the wine snob: she can tell a red from a white and stuff.

Now that I think of it, maybe she’s just jealous about my old girlfriend, even though I never think about her and haven’t for years. She was a sexy woman but also kind of dopey. In other words, she had the whole package.

It wasn’t that long ago during those happy early days when Sabine thought I could do no wrong. Now, of course, she characterizes my aversion to getting kicked in the nuts by our son as my “pet peeve”.

Despite these none-too-cheerful thoughts, there is a lot to rejoice over. I’ll never forget the pride I felt when I first put on that wedding ring and thought “Well, I’m someone else’s problem now”.

The usual problems with the neighbors continue. The woman next door finally succeeded in having the massive oak tree between our homes removed. Now she’s complaining that I don’t wear clothes in my own kitchen. Women are never satisfied.

Life is flying by. I’m not grateful enough and take too much for granted. No matter how successful you are there’s always someone wealthier, better looking and having more sex while fully immersed in gravy (delete before publishing on blog).

I think back to the days when I drank heavily. I really did think of it as just “livin’ the dream”. I now realize it was that dream where you are the only one naked at the party. Still, it was a good run.

I need to reach out more, renew my friendships. It occurred to me that if any one of my recovering alcoholic friends feel that they’re close to falling off the wagon that I should urge them to contact me immediately because I’m learning that this boozing-alone thing isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but there’s something inexpressibly satisfying in seeing someone work hard toward a goal, be persistent and fail anyway. Why is it that the only pleasure I get in the success of others is when I thwart it at every turn? I hate myself, although I like my haircut.

Reading a book about WWII. In the photo section was a picture of Germans climbing over the rubble of the treasury building in Berlin in order to pay their taxes. Is there anything more German than climbing over rubble in order to pay your taxes? To say Germans have a herd-like mentality is to overstate the consensus among cattle.

The German language continues to elude me. By the time I figure out how to say what I want to say I’ve forgotten what it is in English. But I have a grudging respect for any language that has one word for “spontaneity” and 5 words for “the”.

My politics continue to evolve. I used to be one of those who believed that the sole role of government is to defend the shores, deliver the mail. It’s apparent to me now that this is simply asking too much.

All this borrowing the government is doing is nothing more than a deferred tax increase. Maybe Congress’ slogan should be “We tax your children and pass the savings on to you.” I should write them more often.

I had to contact Bank Of America again. In order to protect me against potential fraud, they put a hold on my card again. I called them and asked the friendly representative not to put a hold on my card each time the words “inflatable adult toy” appear on my statement.

I found a true-blue, authentic barber today. He passed my test: I asked him if he has a website and he answered with “What’s a website?” I wonder if he’s a Playboy or a Hustler man?

At this point in my life books make me sleepy. I fell asleep this afternoon reading the WWII book and when I woke up it was over.

English muffins again for breakfast. They’re so delicious I’m beginning to wonder how they can possibly be English.

I’m not sure what to make of my review in the New York Times: “He combines comedy and juggling in such a way that suggests he should stick with one or the other.” Ever the optimist, I suggested to my agent that we put that on the book flap. “Maybe not” he said.

Yesterday, in an attempt to assuage my boredom, I tried to imagine a U.S. president not named Clinton with an inflatable woman. And so it goes…