Disloyal coffee shop owners

Food & Drink: Customer Loyalty

Turn competitors into collaborators: The Disloyal 7

By Andrew Forsyth on January 26, 20175 minutes read

Did you think being independent meant acting solo? Think again, we look into Edinburgh’s most exciting coffee-collaborating initiative, The Disloyal 7!

cult espresso edinburgh
Disloyal is the new loyal! The passionate coffee addicts at Cult Espresso – one seventh of The Disloyal 7. Photo credit: cult-espresso.com

We share customers, knowledge and also friendship.

The speciality coffee scene in Edinburgh is stronger than ever. The members of the customer loyalty initiative “The Disloyal 7” unite in sharing the same values and embracing the differences and nuances among their coffee shops. We chatted with Garry Stone at Cult Espresso, one of the initiators behind a new unique loyalty program for Scottish coffee lovers:

disloyal 7 independent coffee
The seven-sided shape ensures that every shop on the card has equal space – to reflect the egalitarianism that's at the heart of The Disloyal 7.

What is "The Disloyal 7"?

– It’s simple! When you buy a coffee from one of the members of "The Disloyal 7" you collect a stamp – and when you have bought one cup from each place – you’ll get a free coffee from anyone of us!

How was the project initiated?

– We’re a group of coffee shop owners who share customers, knowledge and also friendship. We wanted to showcase Edinburgh’s speciality coffee scene and highlight the variety and quality we have over bigger chains.

4 tips to stand out as a coffee shop:

    • Use the competition. Don't look at your competitors as threats or ugly fish – instead embrace competition! If you really want to be in the top, look at what your competitors are doing as research. Can you find a way to do the same but in a more cost-effective way – or doing something completely different to stand out?

    • Team up. Who can you partner with to save time and money? Perhaps nearby companies or organisation with whom your share customers? Think of loyalty programs with restaurants, retailers or maybe even petrol stations. The Disloyal 7 is a great example of how it’s possible to effectively compete with larger companies by working together in the small business community.

    • Give back! Don’t be a company, be human. Use a human tone of voice in your social media channels and pair it with supporting community activities. Submit a percentage of every flat white sold to a local shelter, offer free drip coffee on Thursdays to public transportation commuters or why not arrange a barista class for followers who share your blog posts on Facebook?

    • Don't just think differently. Do things differently and have the guts to stand up for a new approach – despite potential negative comments. What are the latest trends and how can you adapt them to your context? In Food trends 2017: London, we mentioned the much raved about cronuts phenomena. Play with ingredients and create your own cronut (also something to consider since Dominique Ansel trademarked the cronut name). May we suggest a “bronut”?

the disloyal 7 customer
"We just got our first full @thedisloyal7 card in that's seven coffees in four days not bad!" More @cult_espresso on Instagram.

What have you learned since the opening of Cult Espresso?

– I think one of the things I’ve learned is that if you want to be successful you have to stick out. You have to keep working on your cafe, I see a lot of places open doors here. The truth of the matter is that it takes a while for people to learn where you are and who you are.

To be an independent coffee shop owner – what does it mean?

– Enjoying what you do, working long and hard hours, being part of a great team and building a cool community of like minded people around you!

Thank you, Garry!

– No problems, keep collecting loyalty stamps!

Members of The Disloyal 7

Baba Budan, Filament Coffee, Brew Lab, Cult Espresso, Fortitude Coffee, Cairngorm Coffee,  Lowdown Coffee.

Photo credit: Cult Espresso


How do you stand up against the bigger chains? A new dimension of customer service? Share your story with us and we'll let the world know about you and your creative strategy.

Andrew forsyth Andrew Forsyth Global Sales Operations Manager at iZettle

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Customer Loyalty
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