Yesterday we quietly launched the first global Coffee for Culture Awards competition. The challenge is to find the best museum, theatre, library or other cultural venue to drink a coffee, and we enlist the world to help us find, sort, rank and rate all possible options. Certainly, this is a fun project and people seem to like the idea, but you might wonder, why should we care about the quality of the coffee?
The museums that leave the best impression on everyday people are not necessarily the museums with the best collections, or the most expensive buildings. Similarly, the experience of a great play or concert can be ruined by grumpy staff or cheap wine. Certainly, our content is very important, but doesn’t suffice to conquer the hearts of the masses in the 21st century. Chances are I’ll skip your once-in-a-lifetime exhibit if your restaurant has a poor rating on Tripadvisor.
Coffee is in many ways the heart of great customer service, even if you prefer tea. The way coffee is served tells a lot about the intentions of the venue when it comes to pleasing the audience. Instant coffee from a machine served in a cold cup in the basement of an institutions will have me (and many with me) running to the exit. Kind and helpful baristas who skilfully prepare a perfect cortado can convince me to visit the galleries, even if I only bumped in for a drink (as happened to me in the Bergen Art Museum).
Quite a lot of the debate on new technology and media in museums is about prolonging the visit and the experience of the visitor. I say the cheapest and easiest way to keep visitors in your venue and interacting with your story is to serve better coffee. Over four hours we spent in the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, of which 75% in their café (it’s where I thought of the Coffee for Culture Awards for the first time). For the business-model minded: because of the great café we also spend some 5-6 times more money in the museum than we would have had there only been an instant coffee machine.
Coffee for Culture is about recognising cultural institutions that understand there’s more to them than collections, plays or music. It’s about celebrating institutions that provide full experiences and become a destination for everyone.
Through the competition we hope to discover examples of great cultural institutions from all over the world and reward them for their trouble to prepare a steamy hot espresso, creamy latte or ice cold ice coffee for their visitors. We need your help, so please nominate your favourite and vote for them, and let us know what’s so good about the venues. Thanks in advance!
On this blog and our corporate blog we’ll keep track of the competition and its specifics. Stay tuned.