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Well said. This behavior is endemic to Pittsburgh. Locals have rarely experienced the best of anything—the quality of goods or services available in New York, Chicago, or even Cleveland—so there's a suspicion and even rejection of it. Convenience and consistency reigns above all.

If they don't love you in Lebo, bring it to the city.

Jay Roman

Don't go! i just got out of the hospital and am counting on "coffee therapy" at Aldo Coffee Co!!! Bring on the Brazilians! (coffee, that is!) Congrats to Espanha, but look out for Brasil 2014!!!!

VJ Marks

I read your post with great interest, and would like to share my thoughts. While I do not drink coffee, and have never visited your store, I have been a marketing professional for over 20 years - hopefully that counts. Your situation is not uncommon outside of the retail coffee business.

There are 2 primary approaches to expanding your market, as you know: 1) reach more people who prefer the best coffee, and 2) get the average Joe to prefer the best coffee.

Yes, it's difficult to get people outside of your local area, but it can be done - example - Sharp Edge has done it. (I used to frequent it way before new management purchased it and repositioned it successfully.) I suggest that you find a way to talk with the owners of the Sharp Edge on how they did it. Have you tried bringing the coffee to other locations via events or partnerships with restaurants? If you go outside of Mt Lebanon and meet people who prefer the best coffee, you'll get to know them personally, and they will become evangelists for your coffee and store. Are there coffee stores that sell the best coffee like yours but are not nearby in Mt. Lebanon? There is a good chance that they have the same issue. You could possibly partner with them to share the marketing costs for expanding the market for each store. Yes, there are some risks, but they are shared, and the benefits are, too.

For the average Joe customer, it is possible to win some of them, too. It starts with getting them to try it. People that like fine wines, belgium beers, premium cigars, etc. didn't start that way; they tried it and acquired a taste and appreciation for it. Since there are a lot of "average Joe's" out there, you'll need to be more precise in targeting this next wave of lovers of great coffee. Do you know several people who used to be the "average Joe coffee drinker" but now love the best coffees? If so, talk with them - try to understand what other premium products they like, and the places or events they frequent, or the places they live. If you see a pattern, then you could try to reach more people like them. You could possibly partner or co-market with the sellers of those other products to run 'tastings', or other marketing tactics; or reach them by having a presence at the same events or places.

But, all of this marketing and education effort requires money and time. To do so you MUST increase your profits and profit margins to fund the strategy for growth. Sell more per visit. Lower your costs. Raise your prices. Your customers that prefer the best are not likely to be price sensitive. Uncomfortable raising prices, test it on one or two items, in small increments and see what the results are. If you can't raise the prices, try to find other creative ways to get more per transaction (can you offer larger servings at higher prices? or smaller servings at the same prices?) As I said, I don't drink coffee, so I can't be imaginative on this.

Hope this helps.


You've been in business much longer than we have, however, I'm sure you know that many of the issues you've discussed above are not strictly confined to the suburbs and we experience the same frustrations. I believe there has to be a happy equilibrium whether you're talking pizza or coffee and the mineo's of the world are not going anywhere, nor do I believe they should. Good luck in your future plans! I read that cow girl espresso in Seattle increased their sale 100% when their barista started wearing bikini's. We'll be changing our dress code/uniform in the near future ;)If they don't come for the coffee, Barb's larger ones may just do the trick.

Chris Mayhew

I would pay a premium to not see anyone at Aldo's in a bikini. Except Frank.

Drew Lehman

You are welcome to join Gregory in Dormont...the T stop is very busy...


Rich and Melanie,
Location, location, location. You could sell swill (many do) if you have the right location. You can lead a horse to water, but ya can't make him drink, and if he has to be inconvenienced like finding a parking space, will just as soon lower his standards and drink from the first puddle that's more convenient.
After closely working with La Prima and witnessing the "I could give a shit" attitude that permeated throughout most coffee shops in the city, it was a pleasure to stumble onto Aldo. Along with Amy at tazza, you have pioneered and carried the weight of introducing this city to higher standards, and the effort was not without results. I can personally attest that La Prima improved their product because of what you were doing in Mt. Lebanon, and the two of you have helped immensely improving the level of quality throughout the city. The followers, my shop included, have found a community where the culture of coffee is promoted, and the city has benefitted. As a former Seattleite, tazza was the first local coffee shop I'd experienced that reminded me of what was possible, and then visiting Aldo prior to opening Simpatico I believed I'd found an example of what I could strive to achieve in the business venture I'd been planning. In fact, the help I got from Melanie – training and talking about the business – was possibly the most important ingredient that helped us establish ourselves to produce a quality product. We've always enjoyed our relationship with La Prima as our roaster, and feel they sell a good product, but it was Aldo's assistance and example that we followed to get the most out of what we work with. We've struggled to make our venture worth the investment, and we also struggle with location. But like you, we enjoy what we do. The unfortunate reality is the toll it can take as the luxuries of life are being enjoyed by many others that don't have to put much effort into gaining their luxuries.
I hope others –– 21st St., Voluto, espresso a mano, and other quality shops I'm forgetting to mention –– join me in wishing you luck in the decision you make, and sincerely thank and respect you for your efforts and what you have done for the local coffee community. I doubt many locals realize the respect you have garnered beyond this city, giving us all a good name (I believe Pittsburgh has gained a reputation as a city you can now get quality espresso/coffee). Simpatico is not in the same league if compared to what you produce (I stand behind our product but we've compromised standards and offer lots of fructose and milk :) ), and hope you continue what you've established but with more financial reward for your effort.
Buona fortuna ed auguri!


Nice shots at Uptown, way to be neighborly


Here's neighborly: http://www.aldocoffee.com/community

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