As mentioned in last week’s post on National Coffee Week in the UK, a principal joy of blogging is that one can write about one’s interests, in this case coffee.
Another joy of blogging is the opportunity to wander off on a mental vacation of sorts and write about fun stuff instead of Economics. Hence, the coffee topic returns this week in an encore performance. Coffee has a long and interesting history, perhaps because it tastes good, has many health benefits, inspires the Arts, and gives you a good ROI. This post sets out to prove those assertions.
Coffee and Health
Coffee, by some accounts, is the most widely consumed psychostimulant in the world. Besides caffeine, it contains antioxidants such as polyphenols, catechins and flavonoids. Coffee and Health has its own “science based resource” center on the web. Collectively, the claims and results from extensive research come down on the side of coffee (Table 2). There is a long list of beneficial effects and few adverse effects from coffee consumption. Tinnitus is not on the list, though perhaps it should be.
A broad literature review on coffee research concludes:
“Summing up: caffeine has probably more advantages than risks for health in the general population. Only patients suffering from important or unstable coronary heart disease or those at risk for or having osteoporosis should be advised to take no caffeine or in small amounts (1 to 2 cups a day). For persons with an anxiety disorder, a less clear recommendation can be made, because of a lack of arguments for a causal relationship.”
Coffee and the Arts
Besides being healthy, Coffee is cool. Those who doubt this statement are directed to watch The Greatest Addiction Ever video once again. It will make you a believer. Any number of t-shirt designs will attest to the coolness of coffee and coffee drinkers. Ditto for coffee art posters that presuppose hipster knowledge of old vocal duos like Simon & Garfunkle and their lyrics (look carefully at the illustration to the left). Coffee is also beautiful — rich, warm, bubbly, foamy– perfectly illustrated in the high-speed photo of a coffee splash at the top of this post.
Coffee is central to many paintings, pre- and post-impressionist, as well as to famous impressionists such as Manet, who used art to depict everyday life. Not to be outdone, one can purchase coffee cups emblazoned with Manet’s coffee art, allowing one to indulge in everyday life using a coffee cup that imitates art. Coffee shows up in seals and coats-of-arms (e.g., Costa Rica; Goiás and other states in Brazil). When you think about it, it’s amazing that Andy Warhol didn’t include a coffee cup in his iconic silk prints. Surely he recognized that a coffee cup is a lot more iconic than a can of soup.
Breaking news and trending find their roots in coffee houses. Videos show the eternal coolness of vintage coffee bars. Coffee bars continue to evolve and cool world travelers can now experience Starbucks’ art of coffee in amazing woven-wood Japanese Starbucks cafes. An article in The Economist characterizes the Internet as the coffee house of modern times, enabling the new journalism to which our blogs at hearinghealthmatters aspire:
There is much to celebrate in the noisy, diverse, vociferous, argumentative and stridently alive environment of the news business in the age of the internet. The coffee house is back. Enjoy it.
How about Coffee and the Art of Conversation? Audiologists always advocate hearing evaluations and appropriate amplification to improve communication and enhance conversation. Indeed, some of the nicest audiology offices in the country are known as much for for their gorgeous coffee bars as for their hearing care excellence. This is fantastic marketing: marrying everyday life with coffee with conversation with good hearing with audiology with hearing aids. If only Starbucks franchised to small retailers. The economic possibilities are mind-boggling.
Yet, despite Audiologists’ efforts, there remain some highly competitive (and perhaps political) types who continue to eschew hearing aids in favor of the infamous Monologue Strategy as a devious means of winning the communication game. Sadly, we recently saw a place on the web called “Coffee and Science” giving out “useful hearing-related advice from Coffee and Science on the art of conversation.”
“When your opponent makes a good point, a crushing argument, an incontrovertible case, simply fail to hear, and keep talking as if no one had spoken at all. Talk a bit louder. Lean toward your opponent with an intent, listening expression on your face, then continue to ignore what anyone else says.”
Coffee, Marketing and Pricing in Hearing Healthcare
We will end this short, off-topic series on a happy note by switching briefly to Coffee and the Art of Making Money and trying to bring it all back to Hearing Economics. The marketing possibilities of aligning with coffee were already discussed along with the picture as proof of marketing. Coffee is a money maker, though that is a hard sell to those of us shelling out $5.02 for a triple Venti latte on a daily basis. But, 3.2 million can’t be wrong. That number is the 2011 2nd quarter revenue figure– in billions– from Starbucks. In that single quarter, revenues shot up 14.7% on same-store sales increases of 7%. As a budding Economist, such revenue figures tempt one to recklessly recommend that Audiologists spent more time on their waiting rooms/coffee bars and less time in the back. But that would be wrong.
Instead, just think of the value-added to your patients and potential customers if you offer free lattes in your waiting room. Or, how about bundling free daily lattes into your hearing aid sales prices? This is not a silly suggestion ; the idea of delicious coffee, free, could entice people in and naturally create dynamic aural rehab sessions right in your office.
The idea of complementary goods was introduced in the previous post, linking coffee to cream, coffee to coffee makers, hearing aids to batteries. Why not make audiology and coffee complementary goods? Usher them into your coffee bar/waiting area for a delicious latte and conversation with other coffee-drinking patrons. Take pictures of your happy patients in your new aural rehab coffee bar and put the pictures on coffee cups. Give those coffee cups to the patrons/patients. Invite them back for free refills, batteries, hearing aid checks, hearing tests, chats with other hearing aid wearers–whenever they feel like dropping in. That is marketing at its best — a win-win in two areas in which Audiologists are passionate — hearing and coffee.
Our two-week Coffee Celebration is officially over and this section will get back to talking about Hearing Economics next week, just as soon as I finish this cup of coffee.
Health Table References
 Santos I, et al. Maternal Caffeine Consumption and Infant Nighttime Waking. : Prospective Cohort Study. Pediatrics, 2, 2012.
 Molloy JW et al. (2012), Association of coffee and caffeine consumption with fatty liver disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and degree of hepatic fibrosis. Hepatology, 55: 429–436. doi: 10.1002/hep.24731
Revaleskin Coffee Berry treatments.
 Lucas, M et al. Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Depression Among Women. & Brauser D. Coffee May Keep Depression Away.
 Tanskanen A. et al. Heavy coffee drinking and the risk of suicide. European J of Epidemiology, 16(9), (2000), 789-791, DOI: 10.1023/A:1007614714579
a lucrative if volatile — bigger than Con Agra?! http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/10/17/an-investor-creates-a-tempest-in-a-coffee-cup/?ref=todayspaper