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In our world and in our business, 2004 has been an amazing year of trials balanced with blessing, and obstacles surpassed by growth. For us, its been an intense time of hard work to not only better our website and business, but also to give back to our national community. So wed like to thank all of you who made the joy of this year possible, and share with you a glimpse of what went on this year in the Land of Latte Love.
Whole Latte Loves 2004 was based on what you - our customers - were asking for: more products and more information. So we started by bringing hundreds of new machines and accessories to the table. The most significant of these was the Expobar Brewtus - the product of a year-long collaboration between us and Expobar, which resulted in the creation of a machine that met the needs (and definitely the wants) of the truly serious espresso lover.
We then continued our efforts by tripling the size of our article library, not only with product reviews and expanded buying guides, but also with news about the international coffee industry and a "caffeine humor" section to tickle your funny bone.
Although we were proud of these accomplishments, we simply werent satisfied - we wanted to give you more. We began to brainstorm, plan, and develop an interactive coffee community, geared toward our product line, to give our customers a chance to get advice from their peers and Whole Latte Love experts, as well as just socializing with other coffee lovers. And thus, Whole Latte Loves forum, The Brew Group, was born.
And with all of our efforts came rewards. Thanks to your overwhelmingly positive response to our website and our sales and customer service staff, we were presented with the Biz Rate Circle Of Excellence Award for overall excellence in online retailing, putting us in the top 0.2% of rated businesses. In addition, we consulted for and were noted in several articles in publications such as the New York Times, Boston Globe, London Financial Times, and Time magazine, all of which led up to our television debuts on both ABC and CBS.
Knowing that it was our customers who brought us to this point, we wanted to do something for each of you individually outside of the coffee world to show our appreciation. We focused on donating our time and money to two major groups: the troops in Iraq and cancer research. Just like our staff, we know that each of your lives has been touched in some way by these organizations and we wanted to do our part. So we organized a fund-raising team of our employees to participate in the annual Breast Cancer Walk and shipped 1,000 bags of Lavazza coffee to our steadfast troops to keep them caffeinated and hopefully give them a little piece of home - both of which felt more rewarding than any of the press or awards we received.
We definitely feel a sense of accomplishment about the things we were able to do this year, but the credit truly belongs to you. Because all of these efforts were a direct result of the loyalty, support, and feedback our customers have tirelessly provided. And because we trust and appreciate your suggestions so much, were launching a new contest called "Whats Your Big Idea?", the winner of which will receive a year of free coffee. So if you have a big idea about something you think could improve our site, simply submit it through the questionnaire in your user account. You can even submit more than one suggestion, so pull out the big guns for this one and you may be on your way to espresso easy street.
With the efforts, improvements, and friends weve made this year, its going to be a little hard to let 2004 go. But with an excellent 2005 in sight, we raise our demitasses high, toast things that have passed and the things to come, send a huge thank you to all of you, and wish you all a truly happy holiday.