Considering the specialty coffee business - A few questions


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Mar 7, 2006
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Hello everyone,

Great community you have here, happy I found you :)

I am in the early stages of researching this business. I need a complete change of lifestyle and I believe this would be perfect for me. I currently run a small online business from home (completely unrelated to coffee). I've completely lost interest in it and believe the stress is starting to affect my health. Not that I expect running a coffee business will be stress free but I'm quite sure it wont be as bad as what i'm experiencing now. I'm also turning into a hermit, working from home and on call 24-7, it's not good at only 30 years young!

I have purchased a few books which I am currently reading through, i'm not one to rush into anything, I believe it would be about 2 years from now before I could open shop. I also don't do things by halves, if I open a specialty coffee house you can be certain it will be the best house people in my part of the world will have ever seen ;) I am UK based but my questions go out to anyone globally who has answers or advice. I know there are employers and employees on these forums so I would like to hear from everyone 8)

EMPLOYEES & WAGES - How much does a qualified and experienced barista demand? How many years experience would you consider a barista as 'experienced'? As I have no experience myself (although i'm about to self-teach with books) I would need to employ at least one highly experienced barista that would overlook the other newly qualified baristas. I guess this would be some sort of supervisor or head barista position, if such a position exists! How much for a 'junior' barista?

How many employees does the average coffee house employ? (and their positions)

SQUARE FOOTAGE - I would like a descent amount of seating and a (small) raised stage area for live performances. I don't want it to feel cramped, what sort of square footage would be needed? What percentage of the total area is staff only or 'behind the scenes'?

LIVE PERFORMANCES - This is something i'm very interested in. I'm not aware of anyone in my area that does this. Music is an important part of my life and I like many many different types of music. I've recently got into more chilled out music styles, acoustic guitar especially and a well played (Blues Travellers ;) ) Does anyone here put on live performances in their establishment? Are these your busiest times? I expect it would bring in a lot of customers if advertised correctly and over time your place would become THE place for live acoustic entertainment :grin: How long does the average live set last? Is it best to stick to just one performance a night? How much are the performers paid? Are they paid 100% of the amount of entrance fees? Are poetry and comedy nights popular? Are your performers all local talent or do you source nationaly?

ART - I think I read someone on here displays art by local artists in their establishment. If you've done this do you charge the artist 'rent' to display his/her art? Or take a percentage of any sales? Do you make any sales??

I'm sure some of my questions will be answered the more I read my books but it's always helpful to get opinions of those who've 'been there done (or doing!) that'.

Thanks for reading, I appreciate your time.

PS. Who here likes Jack Johnson? I've just downloaded and listened to 3 albums......VERY good 8)
welcome to the forum you will learn alot, I always do. As a coffee house owner I do like to answer questions and help others, for me it is always easier if you ask one specific question/subject at a time that way I don't feel overwelmed. And I hate to type. :grin:
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Hi Muddycup,

Feel free to answer one question a day :D

Anyone else have answers to any of my questions? Sorry if i'm asking too much, you don't have to answer them all :wink:
Hi, I am planning to open a shop this summer. My plans have changed from renting a small space to purchasing the oldest bldg. in town - corner on Main St. two story 8,000 sq. feet. brick walls, hardwood floors, balcony overlooking main street on the top.....

My long term plans are similar to yours - short term - get in on the first floor and get started...then add music and more stuff....

Jack Johnson rocks - makes me want to try some banana pancakes - my son says I HAVE to have him and Gavin Degraw and some others going at all times.....

Good luck to you!
Hi Jim. I called you one Sunday afternoon and spoke with you - you gave some great advice....funny how plans can change on a dime! I have been showing my husband pictures of your shops - we love the eclectic feel, and are aiming for something similar. Melody