I always hear people complaining about Starbucks and their phenomenal grasp on the coffee market. People are always saying there are other coffee places in the world, places that offer better coffee, better service, etc., and these people are always SO PISSED OFF that Starbucks is as big as it is. To them, I've always said (or at least, thought non-confrontationally to myself) people don't necessarily go to Starbucks because they want great coffee, they go because they are jonesing for a Caramel Macchiato or a Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino, and they know that they can go to Starbucks and get what they want. It's the same reason McDonald's is a success. People don't go to McDonald's because they have the best hamburgers in the world; they go there because sometimes all you want is a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, no onions, some fries, and a fountain Coke. (I realize that sometimes people DO go to Starbucks just for a coffee, and that I don't understand...but let's face it, that's not how Starbucks is making the big bucks, so my reasoning stands!)
That said...why have I never had Dutch Bros. Coffee before??? OMG! While we were in Oregon, we kept seeing them around, and our friends told us that we HAD to try them-they make their mocha drinks with chocolate milk! Toward the end of our trip, we finally ponied up and drove past our usual Starbucks to try out Dutch Bros. Not only was their Milky Way (espresso, caramel, and chocolate milk) fabulous, but my husband and I both got ours for free! We didn't complain, we didn't have our order made wrong the first time, we didn't have a coupon; what we did was talk to the girl who took our order and told her that we had never been to a Dutch Bros. before. She was super nice, and, as it turns out, she is from Hawaii too. As we were preparing to hand over our money, she informed us that since it was our first time visiting, our drinks were on the house! Now, I know most people would not question this, and I was thoroughly thrilled to get my free Milky Way, but as a former business owner, I couldn't help wonder if the girl had given us the official Dutch Bros. "Thanks for trying our product" free drinks or the "Hawaiian hook up" free drinks. I didn't want anybody losing money because their employee was hooking up her Hawaiian "friends". After talking to Tim, our tree climbing instructor, (who is possibly one of the nicest people in the world), we found out that this is indeed a common practice, so I felt much better. I hope that putting this information out there doesn't encourage anyone to abuse Dutch Bros.' policy. If it does, I hope that it will also encourage enough honest potential customers to come forth that they will cancel out the negative effects of any dishonest people just looking for a free coffee.
So, Dutch Bros. Coffee rocks! If they had a presence in Hawaii, I would totally be their newest revenue stream; but since they don't, I will continue to get my White Chocolate Mochas from Starbucks. HOWEVER, if you live anywhere where there is a Dutch Bros. Coffee (currently Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona) (or will be vacationing anywhere where there is one), get yourself to one of their locations and try one! And if you will be flying back to Hawaii, maybe you could smuggle some back for me! Let me know-I'd be happy to provide a cooler. Seriously.
P.S. I should mention that the inspiration for this post came from Patrick over at The Selling Sherpa. His Sales Tips of the Day, "End of the Line" and "A Little Bit More" reminded me of our Dutch Bros. experience, and I thought I should get the word out. So, thanks, Patrick!