New Marketing Ideas Help Locals Discover Cafes

Coffee Klatch

New Marketing Ideas Help Locals Discover and Support Their Favorite Indie Cafes

Indie Coffee Passport

We caught up recently with local coffee enthusiast Dori Rubin, who is about to launch the 2nd edition of the Indie Coffee Passport, a curated guide to 22 locally-owned cafes. Rubin, a resident of Wicker Park, created the offering last year after visiting Toronto and seeing a similar effort there. Although she holds down a full-time job in marketing, the project has grown to a life of its own. This week, Rubin will kick off ICP's 2nd season with a launch party on Friday, December 4th at Locallective in Wicker Park. This year's offering will feature 10 new cafes replacing ones from last year, so previous participants will have new places to explore. 

Local coffeehouses have been on our minds lately, and not just because the weather is turning crisper as winter arrives. Many people seek out independently owned cafes because of their distinct character, connection to community, and their support of neighborhood organizations. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has written a great article about why choosing local matters. Local First Chicago has also created its own directory, including coffee shops as a category within Food & Drink.

One other offering worth watching is BrewPass. This smartphone app (currently available only for Apple devices), offers coffee and tea lovers one free beverage each day for a set monthly subscription price (currently $30/month). If you need your daily caffeine fix, just show the app to the barista at your neighborhood cafe. Currently only four cafes are participating: BrewBrew (Avondale), Bowtruss and Township (Logan Square), and Bru (Wicker Park). This app could be a great way to drive repeat customers to these small businesses and increase loyalty, as long as the costs to offer these promotions is offset by more orders. In an era where many independent shops have to compete with large chains that offer app-based loyalty and pre-order features, having one that caters to locally-owned shops is a good thing overall.