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Blue Bottle Cafe & Restaurants using Twitter & Facebook

If you live in San Francisco and love coffee, you likely know about Blue Bottle Cafe - it is arguably the best coffee in the city, has a rabid fanbase and was made famous by the New York Times piece, "At last, a $20,000 cup of coffee". Blue Bottle has started dipping its toes in social media - and why not? On any given morning, half of the shop is seen huddling over a mobile device or laptop.

blue-bottle-cafe-coffee-and-waffle It is an interesting example because social media is a natural, ideal fit for restaurants (great imagery, food is often social, and people talk about their experiences). It is also interesting because:

- Blue Bottle has a newly started presence on both Twitter and Facebook

- Facebook is about 3x as popular as Twitter: 600 fans vs. 200 followers

- Blue Bottle routinely posts to Twitter, including great photos and interesting updates... but they have not yet posted to the Facebook stream (despite having 3x the fans and Facebook being better suited for visual posts / sharing)

- Blue Bottle Cafe is actively being talked about on both Twitter and Facebook (on Twitter, there are dozens of mentions each day)

Blue Bottle is clearly experimenting with social media and, as an onlooker and a fan of their coffee / food, I find it both interesting and helpful. If I were a restaurateur, I would be watching closely and experimenting on my own. Both Twitter and Facebook are effective ways to showcase new menu items, specials / sales and interact with customers.

Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and other large chains have found success through social media (and are among the best social marketers)... local shops are starting to figure it out as well. And as mobile continues to play a growing, important role both in restaurant discovery and communication, there will be a stronger opportunity to engage with customers.


My Starbucks Via Review (Video)

My Starbucks Via samples arrived and that gave me a chance to do an instant coffee tasting / review. The video review is below (shot using my new Flip Mino HD... awesome). Even as a Starbucks fan and supporter, I found the Via coffee quite disappointing - tasting more like coffee-flavored water than coffee.

The background noise is my dog, Manny.

Starbucks VIA: Introducing Starbucks' Instant Brewed Coffee

It looks as though Starbucks is chasing the instant coffee market... which is typically aimed at bargain, price-based shoppers (far cheaper than getting a $2-$4 coffee in the stores). Convenience is also a factor as brewing coffee can be a hassle during the morning rush.

But instant coffees taste more like coffee-flavored water than a great cup of joe. Perhaps Starbucks' new VIA will change that (I will update once my free sample arrives). The price per cup comes out to be about 50% of an in-store coffee: a 12 pack costs $9.95 and a grande coffee is $1.85. If the taste is up-to-par - and I assume it will be - this is a great fit for hotel chains and included in-room amenities. It is also an opportunity for Starbucks can also upsell the VIA Tumblr.

VIA™ Ready Brew Italian Roast Coffee by Starbucks Coffee

A big, bold, full-bodied cup of coffee, with an aroma that lingers all day.

We know. We say the words "instant coffee" and you immediately think of something lifeless and flat. No smell. Even less taste.

We're about to change all that. Now you can enjoy our bold and roasty-sweet Italian Roast in an instant. Just tear open a pack of Starbucks VIA™ Ready Brew and add water. Let the coffee brew 10 seconds, stir, breathe it all in and enjoy.

It's not instant coffee the way you know it. This is genuine, dark-roasted Starbucks® coffee. 100% arabica and ethically sourced. Isn't it wonderful? There's now an instant coffee that you can start a whole new tradition with.

Free Starbucks Pike Place Roast on Tuesday April 8th

Want a free cup of coffee tomorrow?

Just roll into your local Starbucks at 12est / 9pst for a free serving of Starbuck's new Pike Place Roast - a smooth drip coffee that is being 'launched' tomorrow. That said, several of the San Francisco Starbucks have been serving Pike Place for the last few days (you might also notice the new cups which have a brown Pike Place logo rather than the traditional green Starbucks emblem).

I've had a couple cups so far and it is quite good - decently strong, but not bitter. And supposedly this blend is a response to the critique that Starbuck's coffees tend to taste overly bitter. I still prefer Sumatra, but Pike Place beats many of the regularly offered drips. From the official press release:

Smooth, Welcoming Taste

This blend was created using input from Starbucks customers and represents our 37 years of coffee roasting experience, knowledge and passion. Taking the wide range of customer preferences as a guide, this everyday brew is a unique blend featuring Starbucks signature bold flavor with a smoother finish balanced by soft acidity and subtle, rich flavors of cocoa and toasted nuts. Fresh, Hand-Scooped

The Pike Place Roast™ coffee beans will be hand-scooped, freshly ground, and freshly brewed and served, giving the coffee a consistent, pure taste. To further ensure customers enjoy the freshest, high-quality cup of brewed coffee, stores also will brew smaller batches with a hold time of no more than 30 minutes. Licensed stores in the U.S., as well as Starbucks locations outside the U.S., will also transition to a 30-minute hold time over the coming months.

“Our partners (employees) are excited about bringing back the coffeehouse atmosphere,” said Schultz. “They really like the physical act of scooping and grinding the beans — they like staying close to the coffee. They’ve told us that it makes them feel more in touch with our Company’s core values. And they like that they can offer their loyal customers such an amazingly fresh cup of coffee.”