The very cool thing about the Internet is that it allows folks like Tom to
experiment with new concepts and ideas at very low fixed cost, and very low
risk, with rapid consumer feedback.
I the idea of a 'retired blends' section with a page explaining each
blend, it's characteristics, a complete mixing guide, and roasting profiles
for the roasters that Tom sells.
Neat idea, but how does this feed Tom?
Well, a sharp, Internet-savvy merchant might consider offering a deal
consisting of all of the beans used in the blend in roughly the correct
proportions, individually wrapped, with full documentation, popped into a
Harvey box and delivered to you door for, say, $25 for 3 pounds of blend.
This is a very interesting concept, since it motivates Tom to work on new
blends (this is a Good Thing), allows devoted users to still have their
favorite blend, looks like it could be profitable, and it opens up
information which, in traditional retail/wholesale channels has always been
This is a classic case of creating a new sales model by simply tweaking (or
ignoring) what everyone else knows to be "True." Here, the "Truth" is that
blends and blending techniques are Trade Secrets and have some mystical,
Nonsense - the only 'value' is what the vendor can get from folks willing to
purchase their products. For this model, one hopes that more folks would buy
blend 'kits,' green beans to blend with, and even roaster than under the
traditional model and it would be a sucess.
I believe that ultimately, the quality of Tom's non-proprietary blends would
improve because the community input into these 'Open Blends' would have a
net positive effect.
Now if someone would only 'Open Sauce' French cooking ....