Client: Virtual Coffee (Bellissimo Coffee Advisors)
Problem: Create a consumer training platform for coffee
One project I can truly say I created in full is virtualcoffee.com. Virtual Coffee is Bellissimo Coffee Advisors’s first real attempt break into the consumer market. They have trained coffee shop owners and baristas for years, but quarantine during COVID-19 created the perfect time to create a home barista offering as well.
My brief was simple: “Make a home training platform with text and videos as fast as possible. Call it Virtual Coffee.”
So that's what I did.
I knew this was going to be a lower priced product than many of Bellissimo's previous offerings, so the product itself as well as the creation process would have to be lean. I took on most of the project myself, creating the website, writing the copy, and filming and editing the videos.
My first step was to plan out the topics such a course should cover and run it by Bellissimo trainers for feedback. They liked my outline and recommended a couple changes that I implemented and set to work.
I was already familiar with WordPress and the LearnDash online course builder, so I opted to use tools I knew for the sake of cost and speed.
I already knew a fair amount about coffee despite not working as a barista. It was enough to get the course copy started at least.
When it came to theory I felt pretty confident. Lessons on execution I was less confident about, but I wanted a foundation in place. Amidst other tasks I completed a first draft of Virtual Coffee in about a week, and we started filming.
Working with the professional barista trainers was great and a somewhat unique challenge. They were clearly knowledgable, but had varying levels of comfort presenting on video. The common challenge was making the information as succinct and easy to understand as possible even at the expense of perfect accuracy.
I worked out a system where we could complete each video with two different camera setups giving us 4 angles (1 main shot and 3 b rolls). This gave me a lot of freedom in post to cut out tangents or vocal flubs and make the videos really clear. While filming I also encouraged the presenters to speak to me and treat me like I was a customer at the bar asking a question about coffee. That helped put them in the mindset of talking about one topic at a time for just a few minutes.
On the whole though, the presenters were great to work with and definitely made my job easier. Filming could only be done a couple days a week based around other scheduling needs, so we finished filming in about a month and a half.
Finally, with the videos ready, one of the trainers and I went back through the initial text I wrote and checked it for accuracy and fit to the video. Often the text explained slightly different things than the video, but was broadly the same, and I opted to maintain that difference in most cases. It gives the person going through the course a reason to both watch the video and read the text for further insight.
The tone of Virtual Coffee was much more casual than other Bellissimo products because it was firmly for consumers at home with no aspirations of business ownership. I wanted it to feel like a knowledgable friend was explaining these concepts so that you in turn become "the coffee friend".
Right before I was ready to push things live, I realized the site and course were lacking a hook. There was no one unifying idea that was immediately easy to understand and appealing, something I call a package problem.
We weren’t the only ones who thought of a home barista course. In fact, Bellissimo was late to the party. There was more differentiation work to be done.
I remember pacing back and forth around my apartment for a while, just thinking. I came up with a few ideas, but none of them grabbed me. I decided to let it rest for a while.
That was a Friday afternoon. On Sunday morning, as I was sipping coffee, it hit me. The hook I needed. I tore out the copy I wrote previously and rearranged the structure of the course entirely to fit with my new idea.
Become “the coffee friend” in 5 days.
Suddenly the course wasn’t just about learning how to make good coffee at home, it was about adding to your identity. In just 5 days, you could become the one your friends turn to for coffee advice. It was a simple change, but immediately appealing. With that, I had solved my package problem.