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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    14

    Oh dear... another newbie with another story...

    Hi everyone, I would just like to thank the person who created this forum as like others the knowledge and information shared on here has helped me an enormous amount!

    I really don't know where to start.... I guess ill start with a brief introduction of myself. (I'll try and spare you all from an essay..but no promises) My name is Lucie, I’m from the UK and I recently left working for the police to pursue a more self-satisfying "career". I already know what it is that I want to do, I have plans/many ideas to own my very own Coffee/dessert shop. Where I live I feel that there is a definite market for my idea, living here all my life I grew up being the "city" kinda girl and we we're always on the look out for a place we could meet up with friends and have intimate conversations with in a nice coffee shop that fulfils and indulges our needs. Now I don't mean to put Starbucks down, but from what I see it seems as though they've lost any human touch with their customers.. its so robotic... im sure that if I were to have a heart attack in the middle of the room (God forbid that I don’t), how long would it take for a member of staff to notice or would they turn around and ask me what's my order? Therefore one of the main things that I want to bring back is this human relationship between workers... and costumers.

    My idea only recently came into action.. for the most part it was all talk, however I now have a partner and we are steadily making plans (actually I make all the plans, my partner just sits there and watches me )

    First of all I want to focus on research, I want to educate myself with knowledge on this business sector and that I want to research everything I possibly can. I don’t want to act like an amateur and jump into the deep end only to stand back and ask myself.. "crap.. what am I supposed to do now?" I guess I want to know my coffee and know what im selling so that is why I have signed up for a barista training course since (I have no previous background in the coffee/dessert industry I come from an office background). I was wondering is there anything specific I should be looking for in these courses, I know that there are some courses that go over 3 days with each day focusing on something specific however we are able to choose which day we would like to come in. I've also read some books about starting a business, I’m planning to give the business library a visit also. But what I would really like to know is.. is there an order in which I should do things, because there’s a lot of information and it's all pretty overwhelming however... Im quite lost as to what to do first.. and next. Im thinking I should do all my research first to educate myself on this sector and the market. But when researching the market when do I start looking for a location.. because tbh.. I have started looking into potential locations but im questioning whether this is too soon to be doing this? Do I start looking to buy getting quotes for my equipments now or when I have the location? I do have a rough estimate of what equipments I want and roughly how much I would need to spend since I went to a trade show and gathered many contacts (I’m thinking they're probably betting with each other if they're gonna hear from me again and if im a serious buyer or not)

    I am also applying for jobs in coffee shops to gain "hands on experience" which I hope will prepare me for my own coffee shop.

    What did you all encounter when opening your own coffee shop? How long did you plan your business before you opened your doors?

    I know there are many questions... but im sure that like you, you were all scared/confused and needed a little guidance...

    But really thanks for reading my little story, looks like I couldn’t stop myself from writing an essay.. ooppps. :P

    Lucie =)

  2. #2
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Boca Raton
    Posts
    3,391
    Where are you in the UK...I am taking a trip over in about 3 weeks...I have a bit of experience in coffee..drop me a pm...maybe I can send you in the right direction.
    Topher
    "Wine is for aging, not coffee."
    Ken Hutchinson, Starsky and Hutch

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    14
    Hi Topher, thanks for being the first to reply... i've also sent you a pm. How long have you been in the coffee industry for?

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Edmonton AB
    Posts
    1

    Newbie

    Hi there
    I am new to this forum so if some of what you read is redundant my apologies...but 3 years ago I was there were you are now. Just starting out.

    The first year I researched, read everything I could find on the Coffee and Tea industry and wrote my business plan. The best book I found was Start and Run a Profitable Coffee Bar (Self-Counsel Business Series) It is written by Canadians but the information is not really country specific. They teach you about the different coffee types and have check off lists which gave you a sense of starting off organized.

    I focused on organics and fair trade niche market and I wanted a business that was ethical and morally sound, ie didn't make me lose sleep at night, I did end up loosing a lot of sleep but for different reasons. Reasons not related to being ethically challenged thank goodness. :)

    I went to all the suppliers and trade shows locally and in Vancouver, I live in Edmonton AB. I researched tons of equipment, cups, pots, trays espresso machines, even roasting beans. ( that’s were the money really is in ) It was love at first site when I found a local supplier that carried the Electra, I chose a semi automatic. I loved the hands on feel of it, I felt authentically Italian! :)

    From my experience all suppliers need new blood so to speak walking through their doors. That’s how they stay in business, don't worry about how much money you have or don’t have, or that you are new at this. So were they at one time. No one has a crystal ball that knows if you'll be successful or not. Find a supplier that believes in your business and is excited about it as much as you are. But not just a flashy type that wants to sell you everything, one that has some common sense and wants you to still be in business 10+ years down the road, someone that you can 'argue' with as well. :) Someone that can guide or mentor you, and tells you 'NO you really don't need that for your type of cafe' kinda person. They're the ones that see the bigger picture, and long time customer loyalty for them as well.

    I have that in the guy (Italian family owned business) that I bought the espresso machine from, by the way this was the only new piece of equipment I bought. He was also a good source for second hand equipment. Don’t worry about using used equipment, just clean it really well (all natural orange oil cleaners are great on cutting through coffee oils ) besides the customers won’t know the difference. You can also go to auctions but they can definitely be risky at times, there is often a lot of equipment to choose from, take someone that really knows their lines, dishwashers and espresso’s are the most trickiest mostly due to the number of things that can go wrong with them.

    Though I bought his Authentically Italian blend, I also bought from organic/fairtrade roasters. He didn't get that part. :) I also used all natural syrups. No chemicals.

    Here in Canada 80% of the restaurants don't make it. Unfortunately I became one of them. I was in business for two years and never had a salary and never stopped working. I burnt out basically. My husband was supportive most of the time, but not 100%, he paid most of the over head, and thought I should work harder, never taking time off. (He’s a just tad bit of a work alcoholic himself ) That is a huge thing, you need someone that can back you up and is as committed to your success and your health as well.

    Partners have to be present, either emotionally, physically or monetarily, ie working or money people, and totally trust worthy, is this your dream or is it a 'we' thing. Money people often don't work in the cafe. But they will often want to tell you how they think you should work.

    Another way to look at it is like having a baby…It becomes a part of your life 24/7, even if you are closed 10 hours a day those 10 hours aren’t necessarily yours to do want ever you want. There is shopping / cleaning / restocking / accounting / banking / staff scheduling etc etc etc :) Plus unless you have a housekeeper to look after you at home, there is shopping / cleaning / banking, well I’m sure you get the idea. Friends ? Family ? social life ? …well hopefully they’ll come by and be content to visit with you at the café. :)

    I hope this didn’t come across as negative in anyway. There is a lot of hard work guaranteed but I’d do it again, my panini grill and espresso machine as well as all my teas are all sitting in my 600 sqft apartment! If you can imagine. Waiting for the next place to move too. Actually I want living accommodations above my next café. Reduce the traveling time I say.

    Good fortune and feel free to email if you want to chat.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    14
    Hi Renee, Thank you ever so much for sending me a reply!

    I didn't look at your post in a negative way =) instead it's helped me to prepare myself on what to expect. Im glad that you told me as it is and didnt sugar coat anything because i guess i feel more in touch with this business and not being too naive.. if that makes any sense at all?

    Annnnyhoo... I will look into the book you recommended i recently bought Espresso! and this other book written by Coffee Republic (A big coffee company within the UK). The Espresso book was okay... but it didnt really go into in-depth details.

    I'm pretty much still in the researching stage, I gave the business library a visit which i found resourceful. Whilst researching did you look into getting quotes from suppliers, machines and equipments, or did u save it for later on?

    I too plan to use fair trade products; i read that using fair trade increased the sales of the coffee businesses within the uk. Did you find that it had much of an impact on your business?

    You are so lucky to come across a supplier that not only supplies to you but mentors you, i yet to come across a supplier who is like this. I have met 2 guys, 1 was from wales... and he doesnt supply italian coffee (which is ideally what im after) however he knows his coffee/machines very well. Although his prices are high and he said his company trains their costumers but i doubt we would be having him personally train us. The other guy.. well... he was good... and he knew his coffee but i doubt i'll be getting in touch with him. Maybe i shouldn't focus too much onto finding an italian supplier?

    From reading through this forum i am looking into the Nouva Simonelli Aurelia, the reviews sounds pretty promising. Im also getting a semi-automatic, from i what i see in coffee shops here it seems like they either use semis or automatics and i think automatics is a no for me.

    Its really unfortunate that you'r coffee shop didnt make it... why do you think this happened, was it to do with your location or the market or was it entirely something else? When do you consider going back into the coffee business? My partner in this business is also my partner of 2 years... fingers crossed this wont tear out r.ship apart.. if it puts a strain on our relationship...well... i'll find a way to have my way

    Using the analogy of a baby made me laugh... but it was an eye opener.. oh lordy my partner isn't ready for a baby.. maybe i'll accidently not show him that little statement or else he wont think his ready for a business either

    I totally agree with you one the "money people" I know a lot of money people... and this is why im not partners with them either...

    But just a little update, Im having an interview to work in a franchised coffee shop tomorrow hopefully this will give me more hands on experience.

    We've also gotten ourselves a name.. finally... and now we're trying to find out how to register the name so no one else steals it

    thanks again for your reply

    Lucie.x

 

 

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