Mercon Specialty's Guide to the Perfect Holiday Blend

The holiday season is often one of the busiest times for coffee companies. Customers are in the mindset to treat themselves to festive drinks, buy a fun new coffee, and share the gift of their favorite coffee with their loved ones. It represents both a massive opportunity for sales growth and a considerable challenge in execution. Here are some tips for creating the perfect holiday blend to grow your business.

Know Your Audience

Holiday blends appeal to a different crowd than fancy single-origin coffees. Holiday blends are typically appealing to customers looking to embrace the "holiday spirit" or as a thoughtful gift for the coffee lover in their life. They will often be served at parties or find their way into the homes of new potential customers. Think about making a blend that has a mass appeal in cup notes while also being able to handle cream and sugar.

Capture Your Own Unique Market

Anyone can stop at a big chain retailer and pick up a "Holiday Blend" coffee package. Customers are coming to YOU for a holiday blend because you offer something unique. They want to support your business, share your vibe, or share something representing your unique location. Embrace this in your blend by picking a name that means something special and unique to your company. It could be the unique personality of your business, a quirky sense of humor, or an ode to a local landmark. Whatever the story is, be sure to also tell it through the packaging, promotion, and your team.

Rekindle Holiday Memories

Why do many people think the best coffee comes from Kana or Jamaica? Memories. Every time they sip it, they are instantly taken back to their vacation mornings, sipping coffee while watching the tides wash over the beach. The perfect holiday blend can do the same thing. Tapping into holiday flavors will transport customers to their favorite holiday memories. You can do this by going after holiday flavors in the cup or just in how you communicate your tasting notes. Think of using holiday words. For instance, instead of "vanilla," you could use "sugar cookie," "chocolate," could be "fudge," or "hot cocoa," "spice" could be "gingerbread," or "nutty" could be "praline." It's also fun to add, in other words, that can spark joyful memories. Here's an example of a standard set of tasting notes: "Chocolate, nutty with hints of vanilla.

Here's an example of the same coffee with a fun holiday twist: “Notes of praline candy, warm hot cocoa, and hints of Grandma's frosted sugar cookies

Of course, a great holiday blend is more than just great marketing. It needs to taste incredible, too. Your holiday blend will show up in the homes and cups of many potential customers discovering your coffee for the first time. Here are some craft strategies for making your perfect holiday blend.

Regift and Use What You Have

Look at what you already have on hand. Try to incorporate some of your coffee that you currently have on hand or contract. Sales of a holiday blend will likely detract from existing blends. Use as much coffee already on contract as possible to stay caught up in contracts over the holiday season. Additionally, you already have done quality control on this coffee and likely have experience roasting. Using these coffees in your blend will save you time during a busy season.

Sprinkle In Some Sparkle

Consider blending in a fresh and fun new coffee to make your blend special. What's fresh for the holiday season? Lots! Central coffees (Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador) will have arrived through the summer and be in their best condition for seasonal Ethiopians *should be arriving in the late summer and fall, but beware of depending on a fresh arrival that could encounter delays. Asian Pacific coffees (PNG, Sumatra) should also arrive fresh at the summer's end. These coffees also offer the unique "spice" note many holiday blends feature. Another way of adding sparkle is to blend in a natural or anaerobic coffee that can bring a unique candy-like sweetness. Sparkle coffees also offer an excellent opportunity to use it as a limited holiday single-origin offer. This will help your holiday lineup appeal to the masses and the coffee connoisseur.

Keep a Holiday Budget

It's easy to get carried away by adding those sparkle coffees into your blend; before you know it, you've crafted a high-priced blend. Think about keeping your holiday coffee at a low to mid-price point. This will allow your coffee to be giftable, allow you the opportunity to run it on holiday sales and discounts, and also allow you to offer it in wholesale or grocery. Using Brazil as your base is a great way to decrease your price point. Brazils should arrive fresh in the fall and offer significant value in crowd-pleasing flavors. 

By: Emily Smith, Sales Executive at Mercon Specialty