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Company: Coffee Groundz
Contact: J.R. Cohen, Managing Partner
Location: Houston, Texas
Industry: Retail, Restaurant
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: Confidential

Quick Read

Started in 2007, the Houston-area coffee shop was just another coffee shop until it found Twitter. Today, the Coffee Groundz is ground zero among local social-media fans—and sales have soared.


The Coffee Groundz is a coffee shop, bar, and all-around "hang-out" joint. Like all small businesses, it sought to distinguish itself. But coffee shops tend to be a dime a dozen, so it's not easy to get noticed.

Since opening more than two years ago, the owners of the Coffee Groundz had tried several methods to get new customers and increase sales. They tried print ads in local community magazines and newspapers, radio spots, and even working with local nonprofit groups.

Nothing seemed to work or deliver the type of impact that the Coffee Groundz desired. Then, early last fall, one of the owners began using something called Twitter.


In September 2008, the managing partner at the Coffee Groundz, J.R. Cohen, began using Twitter (@coffeegroundz) informally to interact with friends and customers. One month later, Cohen was in the back of the shop when he received a tweet from a customer asking if he could get a breakfast wrap to go.

The exchange went like this:

maslowbeer @coffeegroundz I want to pre order a bkfast wrap so I can zip thru to get back for gas man. c'est possible?

coffeegroundz [Cohen]: @maslowbeer Oui. What do you want on it?

Just like that, history was made: the first to-go order on Twitter. A couple of Houston Chronicle reporters noticed the exchange, and the Coffee Groundz ended up receiving a lot of publicity over the exchange. And Cohen took advantage of it.

He started building a vibrant community on Twitter by interacting with Coffee Groundz customers, taking their orders, posting tweets about the local music scene, giving tips on how to make better coffee at home, etc. Soon, he began hosting local tweet-ups—gatherings of local Twitter users.

His biggest event was the Obama inauguration, which he organized on the fly less than 24 hours before the event. More than 250 people showed up to drink coffee, nosh on sandwiches, and watch history being made.


The Coffee Groundz is now widely regarded as a hip, tech-savvy place for local social-media fans to get a fabulous cup of coffee. The number of Twitter followers has swelled to more than 5,500 at last count, and Cohen said business has increased 20-30% from October levels.

The Coffee Groundz has integrated Twitter into its overall operations, using it to take food orders and special requests (such as opening a bottle of wine and letting it breathe), offer exclusive deals, communicate with customers, and organize in-store events.

The store's Twitter address, @coffeegroundz, now adorns water bottles, T-shirts, and aprons.

Lessons Learned

  • Use Twitter to communicate with customers and build a community.
  • Consider integrating Twitter into your business operations.
  • Leverage tweet-ups and other events.

"My advice to businesses (using Twitter) is to just be yourself. That will take you farther than you could ever imagine," Cohen concluded.

Related Links

Looking for more Twitter inspiration? Check out Twitter Success Stories: How 11 companies are achieving their marketing objectives 140 characters at a time to see how other firms have effectively added Twitter to their marketing programs.

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Case Study: Twitter + Coffee = A Delicious Elixir for Customer Acquisition and Sales

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Christian Gulliksen is a writer who has authored several of the Get to the Po!nt newsletters for MarketingProfs. A former editor at Robb Report, he has also contributed to Worth, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter.