The 3 Biggest Lessons I’ve Learned So Far In 2016 About Coffee and Business

September 13, 2016

Every 90 days I evaluate where I’m at. In life. In business. In relationships.

I want to keep getting better, so it’s essential to have measurable goals.

I spent some time this week thinking about the goals I had back in January vs. where I’m at now. Some of them have fallen off the radar and others have gotten bigger. That’s the nature of growing as a human.

So what are the 3 biggest lessons?



It’s not. It’s not about what my taste preferences are. It’s not about what I want the customer experience to be like in my café. It’s not about how I feel when I’m interacting with someone I’m making coffee for.

It’s about providing moments that add value to lives. My baristas’ lives. The folks frequenting Lemonjello’s. The people I serve at coffee events. Those I try to help improve an aspect of their coffee shop.

I talk about how consumers are purchasing positive emotions more than the coffee they order. That’s true. But I’ve found so many ways to make even that about me. “Way to go, Matt,” I say in my head, “You got them to leave with a smile and a promise to come back tomorrow. Self-High-Five.”

But who am I missing when I make it about me? And what do I gain by comparing my shop’s service to someone else’s?

I’m learning to step back more often from my vantage point. I’m learning to watch and listen again. It’s the best way to see a need and fill it. And it will probably help my other relationships, too.



You just can’t. I have spent 2.5 years trying to build 2 separate businesses and volunteer with an organization I love and it has been too much to manage.

I was talking to someone I look up to last month and they said they were learning they can’t climb two ropes. The conversation made me realize I was definitely climbing multiple ropes.

I’ve spent the past month changing how I see and structure every part of my life. Ultimately these several things I do are connected and can feed each other. If I look at them as one rope, I can consolidate my efforts.

The down side is that I’ve had to cut out all things that aren’t a part of the vision for this newly formed one rope. That’s sometimes hard. But it’s totally been worth it.

I sleep better. I have time to plan non-work activities while still working a lot when I want to. I use my time better. And I’m less bitter about being behind on anything because I’m choosing whether or not it’s a relevant activity.

Sometimes you have to compromise. If you have a family and a career that are unaligned, you might have to decide which gets your primary dedication. If you are starting a company while still working for someone else, you might have to decide to focus more on current or future income.

But just switching my brain to think of my primary vision in life as my rope and prioritizing those activities over less important ones has changed my world.



I have always taken a long time to complete things. I want everything to be perfect before the launch. I want the branding or signage complete. I want time to train.

That’s not how reality goes. I missed a lot of opportunities by not launching something because it wasn’t “ready.”

This is not an excuse to be unprepared. Prepare.

This is not a reason to not do your best work. You should.

However, sometimes it is okay to start something and then fix and tweak it as you get feedback. At least it gets started. Then you have to follow it through.

This might be adding a menu item that you haven’t trained the staff on yet. It’s the right day to launch but one ingredient just came in. You don’t have a training day for a week. Well, that’s a week of sales you’ll lose. So launch it. Modify how you train for it. Offer support. And figure it out.

Sound stressful? Maybe. But you didn’t lose the sales and you didn’t let your competitor get that customer because you were behind.

The body affects the mind more than vice versa, so taking any action will result in further action MUCH more effectively than if you think out a plan and intend to do it.

I’ve learned a lot more this year. Much more than possibly any year of my life. Maybe I’ll do a year end recap. We’ll see.

In the meantime, think about what you’ve learned, put it into action, and teach those around you.

September 7, 2016