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LifeLetter Cafe LifeWriter Scott Couchenour cares deeply about the leader.
Not just any leader, but the one who is driven to make a mark
and leave a legacy that lasts a lifetime.
He holds a unique package of training and experience over the past 35 years
that you need if you’re looking for strong support.
He’s trained as an Executive Coach, served in ministry leadership
as well as in the corporate environment as Chief Operations Officer and Chief Executive Officer.
Scott serves on several boards and is a fanatic about organization and process
and dislikes inefficiency or ineffectiveness.
The Cafe is excited to announce the launch of Scott’s latest project – Coffeeprops,
a digital community which offers artisan coffee enthusiasts a subscription-based platform
dedicated to coffee, community, and purpose . . including the creation of
a revenue stream that funds sustainable water projects in developing countries.
Find a more detailed overview of Coffeeprops here in Scott’s own words,
CoffeeProps is an online community of like-minded people
who want to deepen their relationship with coffee through education, conversation
and the discovery of new products, brewing techniques and independent coffee shops.
Members have the following privileges:
1) They can stay informed and engaged with expertly curated and produced news and trends;
2) they can purchase exclusive products, hand-picked for the coffee aficionado; and
3) they can discover local coffee shops and culture across the world.
So LifeLetter Cafe is excited to share this recent interview with Scott Couchenour
to dive deeper into the story behind Coffeeprops..
Enjoy his answers below in the latest 7 Questions Sunday!
Today’s 7 Questions
LifeLetter Cafe: Tell us about “coffee as a hobby” in the life of Scott Couchenour?
Scott Couchenour: I was facing some significant challenges and decisions as a CEO of a family business. One day, while sitting in a coffee shop, I realized my love of great photography as well as the third wave coffee culture. So, to create a temporary reprieve from the stress, I decided to set up an Instagram account where I would take screen shots of other Intagrammers’ photos, put them on my account, and give them credit, or… props. That’s why it came to be called Coffeeprops.
There was no intention of the account going anywhere but for my own enjoyment. I figured my mom and family might follow me, but that didn’t matter much. My objective was to zone out in front of a small screen for a little while now and then just to get away from the stress I faced.
LifeLetter Cafe: What makes for a great Instagram platform and what is it about Coffeeprops that is attractive to Millennials?
Scott Couchenour: Little did I know, but what I set out to do as a hobby for my own exclusive enjoyment had touched a vain. Apparently there are a lot of millennials who love photography and the coffee culture just like me. Because it was a passion of mine, I found it easy to be consistent with finding great images. I post about 3-5 pictures each day. Later, I read that to make a great Instagram account, you must be focused on your content, make it quality, be consistent, and work from your passion – all of which I was doing naturally. After six months, I had over 10,000 followers. A year later it reached over 70,000. As of this interview we are seeing over 76,000 followers in just 25 months.
The demographics organically developed. Although I personally think one must be careful when labeling a group (such as Millennials), when I look at the data provided by Instagram on my account, it largely draws the Millennial segment and breaks down as follows:
Age 13-17: 2%
Age 18-24: 24%
Age 25-34: 45%
Age 35-44: 19%
Age 45-54: 7%
Age 55-64: 2%
Age 65+: 1%
Top 4 Countries
United States: 21%
LifeLetter Cafe: How are you moving a social media “following” to the world of online membership with purpose?
Scott Couchenour: Throughout the growth explosion, I reached out to the followers and said I was going to design a website based on the account and asked them to take a survey of 15 common website components. Overwhelmingly, the top 3 things they wanted in a website was 1) To buy stuff; 2) To learn how to brew coffee themselves; 3) To discover coffee shops around them.
With that data, I set out to create a URL and website. After a while, I also set up a mailing list and sent out a weekly newsletter highlighting vendors, Instagram accounts, and so on. That alone has grown to over 600 subscribers in over 55 countries.
But I felt a deep sense of accountability for what this group of followers could do to make the world a better place. I kept coming back to clean water. It’s foundational for a good cup of coffee. Yet, in my research I discovered that over half the hospital beds in the world are occupied by people with conditions related to contaminated water. That alarmed me, so I dug deeper and found an organization called Water4 (www.water4.org). You’ve got to visit their site and see how they are making a difference. It goes so much further than drilling for clean water. So I decided to partner with them.
Through organic conversations, I connected with 3 investors who caught the vision of turning “coffee into water.” They provided the funds I didn’t have to engage a web design & marketing firm to take my feeble website and make it something much more. So here is the platform:
What you as a coffee enthusiast can do without joining (the subscriber side):
– Take some of the Barista Academy courses
– Shop in the store
– Find coffee shops near them
– Receive a monthly newsletter
What you as a coffee enthusiast can do after joining (the member side):
– Take all of the Barista Academy courses (and more courses as they are added)
– Shop in the store
– Find coffee shops near you (also, nominate shops and add reviews of the shops – like a highly specialized Yelp)
– Receive a monthly newsletter
– Have access to exclusive content produced by dozens of experts across the globe
– Have the chance to be randomly selected for a prize each month
– Engage in conversation with other members on topics that matter to you
– Create online friendships, set up groups, share an update, photo, or video for the members to see
– Compete with other members on a point system (called “Props”) for cash to spend in the store
– Have the chance to regularly contribute to a cause bigger than yourself (portion of membership investment goes to Water4)
* All for just $8/month with a 14-day trial period and no long term contract required
“Life is much more rhythmic
when I spend 80% of my waking hours
engaged in what honors my passion.”
– Scott Couchenour –
LifeLetter Cafe: Why Water4? How untapped and under served are emerging countries when it comes to sustainable core resources?
Scott Couchenour: Water4 has learned a valuable lesson about the activity of drilling for clean water in developing countries. If a group goes and drills a well and returns back home, the average time to when a drill breaks down is 18 months. Then on average, that drill will stay broken for 4 years. When a child is born at the beginning of the new well, and then the well goes bad, the infant will not have built up the resistance to contaminated water, thereby doing more harm than good.
Water4 approaches it from a holistic basis. They do 3 things very well:
Provide hands-on training to local men and women. They teach them how to manually drill water wells. Install hand pumps, repair existing pumps, and rehabilitate non-functioning wells.
Equip the drill teams they train with the tools they need to start their own well-drilling business. Think of it as start-up capital. By the time natural wear and tear takes its toll on the equipment, the drill teams have earned enough income to invest in tool repair and replacement.
Continually listen and learn from the in-country partners as technology and needs evolve. They also provide a certification process where active drill teams can perform a series of tests and become officially Water4 certified. This helps ensure that communities benefit from consistently reliable wells and pumps.
As an added bonus, Water4 has teamed up with Justin Wren (MMA fighter) who is involved in Fight For The Forgotten, a horrible slave trade of pygmies in the Congo. They are literally exchanging clean water for the freedom of these pygmy slaves. So what was originally thought as a vision to turn coffee into water, goes further to turning water into freedom!
LifeLetter Cafe: What are your long term goals for Coffeeprops?
Scott Couchenour: If we can grow the Coffeeprops community to 10,000 members we will be able to support the efforts of Water4 and FightForTheForgotten with six figures annually. I’d like to grow it to 30,000 members and support 2 additional organizations who are doing epic things for the world just like Water4 but addressing other problems.
LifeLetter Cafe: Tell us about the importance of “giving voice” to your passion and how does it counter life-pressures that help create leadership burnout?
Scott Couchenour: What I’ve discovered through this 2-year journey is that life is much more rhythmic when I spend 80% of my waking hours engaged in what honors my passion, my personality, and my skills. That’s not to say I don’t have stress. I ultimately had to close the family business down. That was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever faced in over 50 years. I’m still having to put everything in God’s hands and remind myself to lean no on my own understanding. But I have hope.
LifeLetter Cafe: What is it about Coffeeprops that gives you the most hope for a world hungry for connection, community and purpose?
Scott Couchenour: We live in an incredible era. Technology literally allows us to befriend anyone for any purpose. With the resources from my investors, we are able to build a platform that brings the best elements of Facebook, Netflix, Yelp, and Birchbox and allows it to revolve around the third wave coffee culture. If you appreciate a good cup of coffee and want to engage with others with the same affinity, and if you want to discover new ways of brewing and discover cool products, and if you want to be part of the solution to an enormous world problem, Coffeeprops gives you that outlet.
I’m excited about the coffee community because the demographic we are engaging already wants to do something bigger and better. Plus, I am hopeful when I sit in a local coffee shop and just take in all the sights and sounds of espresso being made and conversations taking place. There’s no reason why we can’t pull our $8’s together and help Water4 bring sustainable clean water to a billion people in our lifetime.