It’s always good to compare yourself to the best in your field. This way you never get wrapped up in your own bubble and always see the areas you need to improve. This applies to roasteries and coffee shops.
In roasteries there will most likely be another roaster using the same coffee as you at any given time. This makes comparison easy, just do a side by side of your profile vs theirs. Accounting for variations in style and also the water + extraction level your competition uses you can see who did a better job on the cupping table. With so much competition now roasteries really have to push themselves to constantly improve, after all they’re competing with other business across the world. Finding another roaster who has gotten more sweetness or flavour from a coffee would be a clear sign they can push themselves to do better.
A coffee shop is different. Really you’re only competing with the other coffee shops within a 15 minute walking distance of your shop. A much narrower field. If you over focus on just this small radius you may become complacent and stall your development. It’s important to benchmark yourself against the coffee shops you feel are the best in a certain aspect. That way you are constantly improving.
For my benchmarks I often ask:
Am I offering as much variety, quality and consistency in my coffee as Colonna and Smalls in Bath?
Am I creating a warm and inviting environment to deliver great service like Silhouette in London?
Am I being as creative and innovative with my drinks and approaches as G&B coffee in L.A?
Once I start selling food, will it be as diverse and as much of an attraction as Glasgow’s top food spots like Papercup and Bakery47?
Against all these benchmarks I’m currently failing miserably. This is good though, I have clear areas to improve as the business grows and will continue to develop and push myself. This means even when I’m better at certain things than some of my local competitors I won’t take it for granted.
Thinking you are ‘good enough’ and no longer looking for ways to be better will only end in disappointment, for your customers and your business.