Great Things Come in Two Packages?

Many times I have told the story of how over my nine years as an employee at Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the only company to deliver coffee to us every week, without fail, was Batdorf & Bronson. You could set your watch by the two bags that show up every week. SCAA has hundreds of roaster members and many many of them, over the years, have promised to send coffee regularly and not a single one of them, save Batdorf, has been able to do this consistently over time. While at SCAA, I found this astounding. Then, when I went out to work in the coffee world and eventually at B&B I found it even more astounding because it did not seem to me a difficult thing to accomplish.

And once again I was reminded of the story of MBA students who argued with their professor when he claimed the secret to Disneyland’s success was that a piece of trash rarely remained on the ground for more than a minute, while at other amusement parks, the lifespan of a piece of trash was several minutes at least. The students said that making sure trash gets picked up in less than a minute was not that big of a deal, that anyone could do it. To which the professor replied, “If anyone can do it, how come everyone doesn’t?”

If anyone could ensure two bags of coffee appear every week, without fail, at the offices of SCAA, how come everyone doesn’t?

The fact that trash gets picked up in less than a minute at Disneyland and nowhere else does not make Disneyland a great operation, but it is evidence of all the things that make Disney theme parks great operations.  The fact that Batdorf has been able to deliver two bags of coffee each week without fail to one of the most influential offices on the entire coffee industry, for over ten years, when no other roaster has even come close to doing so, does not make us a great company, but it evidence of the excellence that we pursue, especially our devotion to customer service.

I serve on the board of directors for Coffee Kids, a nonprofit working to improve the lives of families in coffee growing communities. Ric Rhinehart, Executive Director of SCAA, is also on the board and at our recent meeting in Boston he mentioned to me his appreciation for the coffee we send every week and how very often it is the only coffee they have. Chances are, most mornings, he and his staff are drinking Batdorf & Bronson coffee.

A small thing? Maybe. Maybe.

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