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  1. #1
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    Estimating coffee sales at an event

    We were just invited to be the only coffee provider at a pretty big event over Memorial Day weekend. It's a music and motorcycle festival that has been going on for 20 years and attracts about 10,000 people. It runs Friday through Sunday. There will be ~20 other food vendors, 2 of which will offer coffee as part of an extensive menu. We will be the only 'coffee only' vendor.

    SIDE NOTE: We just opened up shop in this town (town is of ~10,000 residents) 3 weeks ago and we are the only roaster for 2 hours in any direction. We have been well received. We sell drip coffee and whole bean out of our drive-through.

    We're not big event goers ourselves and have NO IDEA what kind of volume to expect. We plan to brew coffee at our drive-through and then shuttle it over in airpots. The event will be about a half mile away from the downtown area where there are 3 cafes. Questions -


    1. What percentage of event attendees will purchase a cup of hot coffee (assuming moderate weather)? We will only serve hot coffee and bottled waters.
    2. How much do you mark up a cup of coffee for an event? We sell our coffee for $2.25 (12 oz) out of the drive-through and were thinking of rounding up to $3.00
    3. Do you see any reason not to allow customers to serve themselves? Because we are a small operation, I will be manning the booth by myself for most of the day. I plan on taking money and giving the customer a cup. They can use the airpot themselves and add cream/sugar if they like.
    4. What is the best way to offer cream/sugar at events? Do you add it for them from big dispensers or have the take-away's available for them to rip open and add themselves?


    Thanks A LOT for your help. Oh, one more thing...the music festival is FREE, which presumably might increase food vendor sales since people have more money to spend.

  2. #2
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    Is the event estimated to bring 10,000 people over the course of the 3 day weekend?

    Where are you located? Will the weather be a factor? Depending on where you're located, Memorial Day weekend weather can either be nice, or it can be windy, drizzly, and chilly. Obviously coffee sales increase on the chilly mornings before the sun comes out to heat things up a bit.

    The hours of operation for the event are a factor too. Will you be set up and ready to go early in the morning? Other vendors and people setting up their stands usually search out a place for coffee early in the day, so a lot of your coffee sales will be early in the day.

    Since the event is free, will people be allowed to bring their own food and beverages, or do they have to buy it there?

    You'll sell a lot of bottled water as the day goes on. Then, people will start to get sleepy after lunch, and the coffee sales will start to increase.

    If you give people the empty cup and let them serve themselves, be prepared for some of them to think it's okay to come back and serve themselves a second cup (for free).

    Charging an even $3.00 for a cup of coffee would save you from having to worry about having anough coins for change. Will you charge an even $2.00 for the bottled water?

    Will you be using the little individual coffee creamers that don't need refrigeration? (such an Mini Moos). People who fetch coffee for someone else, usually don't know how much cream and sweeteners to put in it. They like to take a few packets of sweetener and a couple of Mini Moos so the person can fix the coffee themselves.

    The take-away packets of sugar and sweeteners are convenient. It's very hard to measure how much sweetener you're putting into your cup of coffee if you're pouring it from a large dispenser. People are used to using one or two packets of sugar or other sweetener, and they don't think about measuring it much anymore. The packets are less messy, and they're not very expensive if you buy them in bulk.

    Rose

  3. #3
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    Thanks so much for the quick response!

    Supposedly 10,000 over the 3 day weekend. They get the estimate from the porta potty guy, believe it or not. They've held steady around 10,000 attendees for the last several years with just the blues fest component. This year will include the addition of motorcycles. Motorcycle events in the morning hours with the bulk of the traffic coming midday for the start of music and staying around.

    We are in southwest New Mexico. It is an outdoor event and from what I can tell, there aren't any rules about bringing in food/drinks. We have heard that the past few years have seen cold weather over the course of the event, but it didn't deter people from attending the festivities. I imagine cold weather would be great for coffee sales.

    Hours of event (and also our presence) are Fri 10am - 7pm, Sat/Sun 8am - 9pm

    That's a great point about those fetching coffees for other people and grabbing cream and sugar. Do you think $3 for a 12 oz is reasonable? We were thinking $1 for the bottled water.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gila View Post
    Do you think $3 for a 12 oz is reasonable? We were thinking $1 for the bottled water.
    From what I've seen, at these types of events, most of the concession prices for food and beverages are pretty steep. That's why plenty of people bring in their own food and beverages.

    Since you already sell your coffee for $2.25 for a 12 ounce cup, you'll probably have no problem getting people to pay $3.00 at the event. I've never attended any event where it was only $1.00 for bottled water. Will you be keeping the water in a cooler? Are you sure you want to only charge $1.00?

    I've noticed that many people who ride motorcycles tend to carry large bills. I guess having $20's and $50's takes up less room in their wallets. I hope you plan to have plenty of small bills to make change. After five people each hand you a $20 bill to pay for a $1.00 bottle of water, you'll want to just give it to them for free.

    Rose

  5. #5
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    Yes, water will be in a cooler. Good point about the big bills! We'll be sure to have lots of smaller bills.

    Any idea on number of drinks sold per hour/day? I've seen estimates online that indicate we should expect to serve 25% of them, or 2,500. That's a lot of coffee to have roasted! That would be an average of ~833 cups/day and 70/hour. Does that seem accurate? Anybody else done an event with 10,000 or so people and how many drinks did you serve?

  6. #6
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    Are the people who attend the event locals who will come back all three days?

    The first day of an event usually draws the biggest crowd. Of course, the day that has the best weather prediction is also a winner.

    The problem with going with the 25% prediction is that, many people probably will be bringing their own food and beverages and having their own picinics at the event. Also, even though music festivals don't usually attract children, it's hard to predict how many of the estimated 10,000 will be children who won't drink coffee.

    You mentioned that there will be two other vendors selling coffee as well as food items, and you'll only be selling coffee and water. People like to have something to eat with their coffee, and they may go elsewhere once they see that you aren't selling other snack items. That may cut down on your coffee sales.

    However, the bottled water will be a big seller all throughout the day.

    How many pounds of coffee were you planning on roasting and having ready?

    Will you be giving out bags of roasted coffee samples at the event so people can get to know your roastery business?

  7. #7
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    It is supposedly some locals but a huge # of visitors too.

    I was initially worried about the other vendors who also offer coffee. But then we were told that we'll be the first food (beverage really) vendor positioned on the path from the seating area to the food vendor strip. So we'll be the first thing people pass and we'll have the 'this is a local product' thing going for us; versus the vendors who just travel around from gig to gig. We are also going to have a few different origins on tap so that people have reason to come back and try something new.

    I spoke to a lemonade vendor last night who told me they sell at least 20 gallons of lemonade a day during this particular event; or about 160 people. Assuming we serve the same number (as a low estimate), we were planning on needing 20 lbs of coffee (to serve ~480 people total) and 40 lbs on the high end (for about ~960-1000 people). We'll have 20 lbs ready for Friday and if needed, can roast Friday night and serve it Sunday (not the ideal rest period, but hopefully doable).

    We aren't allowed to offer whole bean but we are going to hang up a sign/map directing people to where our roast house and beans are located (~ 1.5 miles down the road).

    Oh, and we decided to sell water at $2 unless you buy it with a coffee, then it's $1.00.

  8. #8
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    It sounds like you have a good plan.

    And, it will be a learning experience for next year.

    I hope you'll be able to take some time to enjoy some of the music festival while you're there.

    Rose

  9. #9
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    Gila,
    It would be nice if you would come back to the forum and post a report on your outcome.

    Jerry

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JerryB View Post
    Gila,
    It would be nice if you would come back to the forum and post a report on your outcome.

    Jerry
    Thanks Jerry! I totally forgot to mention that. It certainly will be interesting to learn how things went.

    Rose

 

 
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