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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013

    Farmers Market w/o Electricity

    Hey everybody,

    This is probably a post already, but I couldn't find it. I am thinking about selling my coffee at local farmers market that doesn't have electricity available. Does anyone have experience with this? My questions are: how do you grind beans for serving pour overs and for customers who want them? Also, for pour overs, how do you keep up with demand of heating water on gas stoves? Thank you for any help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    I can only tell you what I have experienced at Flea Markets, Fairs, Trade Shows, and other places that you do not have ready access to all of your Utilities that we usually take for granted.

    If you wish to delve into this type of selling, do not attempt to do it Half Way. When envisioning and building your booth, think of your space as a Cube and try to sketch down how you will envision it to be, when completed.

    Start by defining your space.
    Are you going to use a single space that most buy, of a 10'x10'X 10. 10' wide or side to side
    10' Deep or front to back, and 10' Tall. (or a Double Space of 20' wide)
    BUY A CANOPY, you will be closed down, more than open, if you don't have a way to keep the sun off of your head, when it's nice, but more importantly, the Rain off of your head, your beans or equipment, when it rains.
    Remember the floor as well, you will thank your stars, if you stand on a cheap, foam mat instead of concrete, or even a scrap piece of AstroTurf to keep your feet out of water and mud when it rains.
    Be aware, no matter what size booth that you have, it must look Full.
    Anything that you can do, in the morning when you open, You must look Full. Be there 1-2 hours before the promoter tells you to be there, because if you are, you'll probably get patronized by the other Vendors, when they smell the coffee.
    You can, a lot of times, make your booth rent back, before anyone else is open, just by selling to the vendors.

    Be Neighborly,
    give away a cup of brewed coffee, to the other vendors. Remember, a pound of ground coffee can make 40 k-Cups or brew in a drip maker to 30-40 cups, with your cost, brewed coffee should cost you if you used, bottled water is .06 and if your cost for the ground beans should cost you no more than $6.00 a lb, so the coffee would cost you .15 a cup, the cups .05, so your per cup cost should be .26, if you give away 20 cups, in the morning, and you sell to the vendors, cheaper or a discount, for like a buck a cup.

    This $5.00 can be written off as a Promotional Advertising Expense, when you give it away, you write off, the retail as a promotional expense so if you give away 20 cups, you may be able to write off, your retail price, which may be $2.00 per cup and may be as high as a $40.00 write off, so for a little over a $5.00 investment, you build goodwill, you gain a customer that at least casually will buy from you. And you may be able to write off $40.00, but check with your tax professional, to decide how much that you can actually, write off. I get Mugs Printed or Cups that have my logo on them. So while your customers are walking around, they see all of the vendors drinking YOUR, coffee, in your cups. Don't give them cream & sugar, make them walk to your booth to dress their own cup. It will show that the other vendors, like your product. And are your customers, so there is an immediate trust implied. In the mind of your Customers. I get Plastic Cups or Mugs made up to sell in the store, but also to give away. The cheapest thing that you can give away is a Beverage, so I get all of my neighbors, to carry my businesses mugs around and let's say I had a sandwich place, they could get a beverage for free, when they bought a sandwich, everyone that was in the mall saw that person from another store, walking to my store carrying a Logo'd Cup.

    You have to build and tear down daily, your booth, so make sure that you keep your Tables and Display Pieces, manageable. When I owned a Food Truck, we had similar concerns, about power, so we used a Honda, Quiet Generator. That's the only brand the guys that own food trucks around here, use. The quiet ones are more expensive, but listen to that really loud, $300.00 generator for one day and you'll be ready to rip your ears off. Make sure when deciding on a size for your generator, you take into account, everything that you will need to be plugging in. If you just want to run a Brewer and a Grinder that is 110V, takes a lot less juice, than if you have to run several 220V, Grinders, a Roaster with an Afterburner, a Cash Register, and don't forget about lights. The LED bulbs out on the market have very low wattage requirements, and at Home Depot, they sell LED bulbs starting at $2.50. Just write down EVERY THING, that you will plug in, tell the salesman and add at least 50% more, for expansion power needs.

    if you want to Roast there, I would only consider a Propane Roaster, because those large tanks last a long time and the energy conversion difference in hauling around the extra fuel that you would need, to run an Electric Roaster, would not be worth it.

    Consider your Climate as well, does it rain a lot, in which case you want to make sure that you have an awning, for potential customers, to come in from the rain, or are you going to have an Open Entrance, that they could walk into to middle of the space, before they get to order? You will also need to make sure that your canopy has walls to keep the blowing rain, from your beans and equipment.

    Your design will Depend on if you are going to be selling cups of coffee, or Whole & Ground Beans.
    If you are going to be selling Prepared Coffee, are you selling Snacks & Pastries? If you handle unwrapped food products, you need to check with the Health Dept, and see what requirements, that they have. At minimum you will need a wash station, with 3 sinks or containers, and a Hand Wash Sinks. Theses can be done cheaply with Bus Tubs or you can do what serious operators do and that is buy or build a Self Contained sink Unit. I Built Mine, (cost was around $800). I can give you a link to the plans and material list, that I built, if you'd like? Or you can look for a Used Unit, new a Stainless Steel model, with pumps and heaters, can run $5,000.00. Used, you can usually find one in the $2,000-$3,000, range. Hand wash stations and sink units can be rented temporarily from the folks that rent Porta-Poties, but the expense is high, unless it is a one time thing.

    Storing and transporting your water, that you will use to brew cups of coffee, prior to brewing, must be in a Food Safe Container and should be filtered before and after going into that vessel. Beforehand, I use a inline filter at my Commissary or if working out of your home, you can get a small table top filter unit cheaply, online and then right before you brew, with it, you can run it through a Britta Filter, or something similar. Remember if Water is the single largest ingredient, in your Coffee, it must be Crystal Clear and Devoid of any Tastes or Odors. I use a 6 gallon Plastic Carboy and a hand pump on top to dispense it. If that will not work, you can buy bottled gallons of Spring Water, you can find them for .99 a gallon. You can buy those Carboy vessels and pumps at any store that sells Beer and Winemaking Supplies.

    I hope that answered, most of your questions. If you have any other questions, ask it here, so that others may learn as well.

    Good Luck

    Chef David

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    To heat your water, consider something, they make a Stock Pot Stove, about 2' high, wide and Sturdy, and a Commercial Alumimum Pot, with a Lid. A large one will cost you under $100.00 and will take years to wear out. I consulted years ago, with a Fire Dept, doing a Haunted Hayride in October. They sold Hot Dogs and Hot Chocolate, as fast as they could make them. They were heating Dutch Ovens on BBQ Grills, side burners. They had 7 volunteers operating 12 Propane BBQ Grills and they could not keep up with the demand. I had them buy a 6' Open Propane Grill from SAMs Club for $500, that one volunteer could crank out hundreds of dogs an hour. The Candy Stove cost them like $600.00 I think but it was so strong and threw off so many BTU's that it melted the standard pots and when I brought them a 120 Qt pot with a faucet, used for like $200.00 and they have never ran out of hot water since.

    Or or you go off the boards, and get a Tabletop, Water Boiler and they are in the $1,000-$2,000 range.
    or you can get the 18 liter for just over a hundred, each.

    hope that this helps, and Good Luck,

    Chf David

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Northern California
    Excellent posts. Thanks ChefDavid!

    Quote Originally Posted by ChefDavid View Post
    Self Contained sink Unit...
    I can give you a link to the plans and material list, that I built, if you'd like?
    Yes, please.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2014

    They have a Plans & Materials List, what and where to by everything.

    i think that they even started to build and sell these unit's.

    They answer any any questions that you have, while you're building it.

    This meets My Health Dept Requirements, check with your local Health Dept to see if you need to alter it.
    mine needed deeper sinks, to be legal.
    Last edited by ChefDavid; 01-17-2016 at 07:26 AM.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Northern California
    Thanks very much ChefDavid!

    That site doesn't look correct but I think the correct one is concessionsinks (I can't post links yet).

    Thanks again.
    Last edited by zeece; 01-16-2016 at 06:24 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Excellent posts Chef David. You have given this about as thorough an answer as could have been imagined. Kudos for your generosity!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2014

    The Coffe Community, should function like other aspects of Food Service.

    We should all Foster, the idea of Community, and practice the act of Co-operation, not Compitiion.

    Just trying to Pay it Forward, to some of the New People getting into the Business.

    Next thing that I'd like to try is a Barista Compitition, if anybody knows anything about putting on this contest, and giving away prizes.

    Everybody is welcome and sorry about posting the wrong link, just do a Google Search to find it easier.

    I try to ask questions too, but not many people have answered my questions.

    All The Best Luck in your new endeavor.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Wow...thank you very much ChefDavid for sharing all of that knowledge and experience! I really appreciate you taking the time. You made some excellent points that I haven't even thought about. Did you need any type of license from the city or state to roast and sell coffee?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    This requires a lengthy answer:

    You need a City Mercantile license to sell your coffee in any city.
    Very easy to get just call up your City/County Clerks office and ask what to do?
    this can cost $25-$300

    You need approval, usually, of the County Health Dept, or the State Health Department, depending on the State that you live in.
    This is going to be the hardest, & take you the longest to get.
    In PA & NJ, where I am, in each county, I wanted to operate in, I had to get a County Health Dept License.
    These license cost me $150-$300 depending on each County or State.
    If you can get a State License, get that, so that you can have the largest selling area that you can get.

    Then for the State, you will have to get in touch with the Revenue Dept, to get a Tax ID Number.
    in my States, you collect sales tax only on Prepared or Packaged Food or Beverages.
    So if you are just selling Whole Bean, or Ground Coffee, those things here, are not taxable, but a Cup of Prepared Coffee is!
    These Tax License are usually Free, but you must submit your State Sales Tax Quarterly. Keep Meticulous Records of Sales Tax.

    Then, you must apply to the Federal Govt to get a Federal Tax ID Number.
    Also known as an Employer ID Number. You need this for everything.

    Buy Business Insurance. If you try to open up a Food Based Business, without it, just look at what Chipolte is going through, right now. Have you ever been in a Chipolte's? They have Stainless Steel And Hard Surfaces Everywhere, and people are still getting sick. They are Meticously Clean. It could be a supplier of one of their sauces or anything else. Your Coffee may never get someone sick, but if it does, just one time, you could be sued for millions. Remember the lady that got a Million Dollars, because she spilled Hot Coffee, on her lap at McDonalds. I mean, come on, really? You didn't know that Coffee was Served Hot!

    You should join the SCAA, if you are not already a member, to give your company some Credibility, for Customers, who don't know you. Cost is $250 a year.

    Remember, the Local Chamber of Commerce, is not a Government Agency, it's a Franchise Business.
    If you want to get known to the Local Business Community, to get your name out, Join, but they don't do much IMO.
    And they cost, in my experience, between $150-$400 a year.
    This is something that you should join but not right away.

    Contact the Local Extension Office of The Department of Agriculture.
    These are Federal Offices and they are often overlooked by New Businesses.
    I have found them to be a Wealth of Information, and there Reports are usually funded by the Government,
    so the info is cheap or free.

    Contact your local SCORE office, they are staffed with retired business people, that don't have much to do, so they will help you, and most of their services are Free of Charge.

    One last note about the Rent that you will have to pay, and what I have experienced.
    Higher Rent, is usually charged, for better locations.

    It may seem great, to sell at a Farmers Market and they may charge, very little, but how many Customers are you going to see?

    A Trade Show may cost you $600 or a little more, for a entire weekend and you may have 100,000 Customers brought to you.

    You can start, in a Farmers Market and build up to Craft Fairs and Trade Shows.

    More Rent can mean, Higher Profit Potential, just be sure to do your Due Dilligence.

    I've been looking at retail locations and have just found a place that is a little village that gets over a million guests a year with Demographics that are through the roof. The rent is pretty stiff at $35.00 a SF/Y, but the other stores are reporting gross Sales of $350 a SF/Y, that is what you are looking for a Ten Times Multiple. When we started negotiations, they told me that it was over $90.00 a SF + CAM. Through a few visits and creating a want of my business, by the Leasing Company, I was able to Negotiate a nearly 2/3 discount. If you do not feel comfortable, toughly negotiating your Prospective Lease, I can give you the guys that I hire? Using these Negotiaters, I have save Tens of Thousands of Dollars over the years. I think that their guarantee is something like they claim to save you at least 30% or no charge. At least, that has been their deal with me.

    Good Luck


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