Twitter To Go: One Houston Coffee Shop Makes its Mark

by Guest Post on November 17, 2008

This blog post was written by Erica O’Grady (@ericaogrady).

Twitter To Go?

When J.R. Cohen, Operations Manager for CoffeeGroundz (@coffeegroundz) Cafe in Houston, Texas first heard about Twitter from one of his customers, he was puzzled but intrigued. Today, he credits Twitter with almost doubling his clientele and with opening his eyes to a whole new way to build Community.

If you’re reading this article, then chances are you’re already on Twitter, and you may even have experienced the power of Twitter for building your own personal or corporate brand. Recently, more and more companies have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon to help manage their online identities making it increasingly harder to stand out from the crowd.

But Cohen and CoffeeGroundz have found a way to do just that. Shortly after joining Twitter, Cohen started following members of the local Houston Twitterati and in no time had amassed over 1000 followers. Cohen is a naturally charismatic, giving, and friendly guy – traits that make him a natural on a network like Twitter.

On Becoming The Purple Cow

Nothing can build your brand faster than being or doing something remarkable. Seth Godin, author of the recently released Tribes calls this becoming “The Purple Cow”. Cohen didn’t set out to become a Purple Cow – but with one brief 140 character message – that’s exactly what he’s done.

On October 31st, 2008 Sean Stoner (@maslowbeer) was hungry. As a regular customer at CoffeeGroundz he sent the following Twitter to Cohen:

Cohen quickly replied and Sean went through the drive-thru at CoffeeGroundz to pick up his burrito.

This simple exchange got a lot of coverage on Twitter and was hailed as potentially the first time that Twitter had ever been used to place a To-Go Order. Seeing an opportunity, Cohen started taking to-go orders via direct message from any of his Twitter Clientele.

CoffeeGroundz offers free Wi-Fi, plenty of outlets, and they serve beer and wine – making it a cross between a Coffee House and a Lounge. Today, customers can order beverages and tasty bites from the comfort of their seat using Direct Messages to @coffeegroundz. How cool is that? You don’t even have to stop working to walk to the counter and order a coffee.

Building Community While Making a Profit

Recently, CoffeeGroundz was the venue for a Houston Tweetup that Cohen nicknamed “The Great Twitter Party”. Nearly 100 Houston Twitterites spent a lovely Sunday afternoon there at the largest Houston Tweetup to date. And did I mention that they bought lots of food and beverages? So the next time someone tells you that you can’t make money from Twitter, tell them to think again!

Below is a quick video I shot on Ustream with J.R. Cohen of CoffeeGroundz Houston. It starts off slow, but Cohen is so charismatic that it’s worth a look.

Erica O’Grady is the #1 Erica on Google – Most days :o ) Currently she is a Social Media Consultant based in Houston, Texas (the damn near finest city in the South). You can read her blog at or follow her on Twitter.

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