isabelle thye

When Coffee Meets Maslow

I am obsessed with coffee. I refuse to use the word addict because it somehow portrays the need to attend a focus group.

Having coffee in the morning is my sacred ritual. It creates the moment when I feel like there is so much hope and love in this wonderful world.

So it got me thinking – what does coffee mean to everyone? Why do we need coffee?

When I think need, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs comes into my mind.

#1 Physiological need
You need coffee as a form of drinks. You do not care about the brewing method, the origin of bean, the roast profile, the presentation or the taste of coffee. You need coffee simply because yo hauve been drinking coffee since forever. To you, coffee is habit. In other word, you play extremely important role in sustaining the presence of instant coffee.

#2 Safety
You have formed strong association between coffee and alertness. You rely on coffee to kick start the day with spiked energy, to get you through the night preparing presentation, to make sure that you do not fall asleep studying history,  or to end a long drive safely. To you, coffee is an assurance that you will get things done within your capacity.

#3 Love
You drink coffee for social need. Coffee is a mean of establishing connection with friends, colleague, business partner, a hot date or family. You drink coffee in order to fit in the group you are in. When everyone is drinking coffee, you seek acceptance and love via following suit.

#4 Self Esteem
You often boost your self confidence by holding cups printed with Starbucks logo. You perceive coffee as a luxury and drinking coffee makes you feel good about yourself. Sometimes you tend to get fussy about your drinks (i.e skinny double shot tall cappuccino with less foam two sugars extra hot no chocolate sprinkle, oh, with vanilla syrup please). You know your coffee and you would love to show it.

#5 Self Actualisation
You have fulfilled the needs of physiological, safety, love and self esteem. You want coffee simply because of the goodness of coffee. Coffee creates a moment and space for you to appreciate good things in life. You might be hard core coffee lover who go deep into production chain and study the thousands of flavours in your coffee. To you, coffee is an adventure, a journey.

Having said so, I find that the reasons we need coffee are correlated to how deeply are we connected to coffee.

As a person who works in coffee retail, making sense of the different needs for coffee helps to split customers into segments, which makes marketing strategy more effective by targeting different group. This is also consistent with Malcolm Gladwell’s idea in choices and happiness.

Hey you coffee drinker, beware! 😛

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