Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dark Horse Coffee Brands Their Urban Barnyard

Dark Horse Coffee may be small but attracts a lot of locals from the urban barnyard. As a start-up operation the idea was to transplant knowledge from the Hawaiian coffee fields to the coastal lifestyle of San Diego. The young entrepreneur Daniel Charlson used his experimentation with coffee beans to create a successful business that frequently has a line out the door. You can’t miss the big black horse on their sign. 


It isn’t a large coffee shop and seating is limited but this doesn’t seem to stop anyone. They don’t have a lot of room for people to sit and lounge around with their laptops but they do have an efficient visitor flow mechanism that ensures customers don’t have to wait long before being served. Many of the patrons walk-in and out from the street buying their coffee on the go.


They are a specialty shop that focuses on international French press, pour over, and cold brew coffee. Unlike larger chains they operate in small batch production and strategically value quality over quantity. Many of their offerings are organic which appeals to a younger more health conscious crowd. Fresh, niche, convenient and organic are just a few relevant terms that describe their offerings.


One of the advantages Dark Horse Coffee has going for it its unique brand. Establishing your coffee business as a quality leader with a unique market brand can further market position (Piquet, 2014). That brand recognition can lead to customer recall when thinking of where to get coffee and that equates to dollars and cents in the owner’s pocket.


The coffee industry is a growing market. In 2013 coffee consumption increased 5% and this has led to adjustment of quality, upgraded operations, and remodeling investments (Rigik, 2013).  Dark Horse fits within this market through its niche brand and convenient coffee stand business approach. Low overhead and high opportunities.


Dark Horse has things going for it that some of the competitors do not have. They are not large or have all of the amenities but they do serve the street traffic well. If you know anything about Adams Avenue it is busy with all types of commuters. People buy their coffee on the way to work, shopping, baseball, yoga, or some other event. Their unusual brand will help customers remember them and their location will encourage them to keep coming back.


7am - 7pm DAILY

3260 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA.


Piquet, J. (2014). Positioning your coffee shop for success. Specialty Coffee Retailer, 21 (2). 


Rigik, E. (2013). Courting Coffee Customers. Convenience Store Decisions, 24 (12).

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