Dream of owning a coffee house - Hoping for advice

scottdanzig

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Dec 23, 2005
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Howell, NJ
I apologize for quite possibly repeating some of the questions asked here before.

To sum up what I'm hoping for, I'm looking for guidance. I am right now earning a decent salary on a 40 hour job in NJ, but I dream of starting my own coffee house one day, and am wondering how I should approach it. I definitely am against a franchise, primarily because I look forward to an outlet for my creativity, but also because I don't think I could afford one anyway. Let me go over what I know so far, and then hopefully a kind soul here can offer advice in a reply, or even have a IM chat with me about it if possible.

I'm well aware that I should not expect a profit for a while, and that it will require a lot of work and humility.

Although I like coffee and cappuccinos a lot, I am not very knowledgeable about espresso as I feel I should be, and heard having a "passion for coffee" is a necessity, because that would be my product, first and foremost. I've never worked in a coffee shop before.

I can provide cash using my retirement savings, a home equity loan, credit card cash advances, and my personal savings, plus apply for an SBA loan, bank loan, and venture capital from individual investors. I know I can lease equipment and pay rent instead of buying equipment and a building up front to lessen start-up costs, although I'm not supposed to sacrifice quality and location to save a buck.

I know there are coffee business consultants that can help me start up a coffee house, but I don't know how to find a reputable one in New Jersey. I know a business plan is crucial to starting up business in an organized fashion and securing start-up capital, and I should educate myself enough to write my own (no doubt with the consultant's help), so I know the finer points of my business, but I've not written a business plan before.

Anyway, I've lately been considering how much money I should save, how to find the right consultant to deal with, and what the best way to learn more about espresso is, possibly investing in a not too expensive espresso machine and joining a coffee club. I'm not sure what's a good purchase and what's reasonably priced and will last.

I've typed a lot that's been going through my mind, and am looking to lean on your experience to see how I should be preparing while I still have the luxury of time for that.

Thanks for reading this, and for whatever help you can offer.

- Scott
 

DavesLT

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Nov 6, 2005
64
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Missouri
Coffee Conundrum

Scott, first let me say that you are smart in doing your homework before proceeding with your new coffee venture. And while I don't know anyone to recommend in your area, might I suggest that you talk to a few local established coffee houses and see if they can recommend someone.
My parting comment is to buy the best espresso machine that you can afford and buy it from someone local who can provide you with traning and service. You might want to check out my website and click on the Espresso FAQ's link where I have lots of basic advice for newbies.
Good luck with your future business. -David
 

Muddycup

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Dec 4, 2005
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New York
work

they are right do your homework and ask alot of questions, prepare yourself for the business so when you do decide to take the leap you'll be better prepared.

Also you can check out our website to see pictures of our stores.

Jim
 

DavesLT

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Nov 6, 2005
64
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Missouri
Re: work

Muddycup said:
they are right do your homework and ask alot of questions, prepare yourself for the business so when you do decide to take the leap you'll be better prepared.

Also you can check out our website to see pictures of our stores.

Jim

Jim, nice website. Hopefully Scott will check out one of your locations, they appear to be well conceived. At any rate, it's nice to see someone else in the business who is willing to share their knowledge. I definitely encourage people to find a local roaster that can supply them with fresh, and custom blended coffees.

Cheers, David
 
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scottdanzig

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Dec 23, 2005
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Howell, NJ
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Also you can check out our website to see pictures of our stores.
Jim

Thanks for the advice so far! This isn't the only site I've been asking questions, but I think I've gotten the most useful responses from here so far. I actually went so far as to plan my next date out at your Albany location this Saturday (7-JAN-2006), Jim! I will have fun checking it out then. I'm sure the Muddy Cup will be nice and lively, yet sophisticated :) It's almost 200 miles north of me, so I wouldn't mind a tip or two on other things to do nearby, other than the movie theater.

- Scott
 

Muddycup

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Dec 4, 2005
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New York
visit

The Staten island muddycup is the closest store to you in NJ. I am usually at the Hudson store during the day times, Hudson is closer to you than albany (30 min south) off the 87. easier for you to come to hudson on Sat.

Number here is 518-828-2210 name Jim
 
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scottdanzig

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Dec 23, 2005
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Howell, NJ
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Re: visit

Muddycup said:
The Staten island muddycup is the closest store to you in NJ. I am usually at the Hudson store during the day times, Hudson is closer to you than albany (30 min south) off the 87. easier for you to come to hudson on Sat.

Number here is 518-828-2210 name Jim

The one I'm meeting actually lives past Albany. Would it be a bother to get a tour of the coffee shop if I show up at Hudson on Saturday?
 

Muddycup

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Dec 4, 2005
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New York
visit

Saturday would be fine, I am actually going to work the counter this sat for my staff who wanted a day off for an event and I was free. If you arrive before 2pm would be best, I can spend more time with you. After two I will be at the counter.

let me know your schedule, hudson is off exit 21 off the 87 NYthruway. on the east side of the hudson river.
718-828-2210
Jim
 
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scottdanzig

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Dec 23, 2005
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Howell, NJ
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Muddy Cup is great!

I visited Jim's Hudson location and I figured I'd let people know it's a great place. He's got good business, free wifi and a classy building, and the espresso there is very good. Slightly sweet yet sophisticated taste that marks an espresso worth drinking. Plus, Jim is very hospitable to others in the business, apparently, and can... admittedly talk up a storm --very useful information for me, mind you :D

While I'm definitely staying conservative, planning on needing a hefty chunk of startup capital for my ideas, Jim certainly convinced me that with resourcefulness and acting on the right decisions, a quality business can be started up on a substantial discount.

Thanks Jim!
 

Muddycup

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Dec 4, 2005
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New York
Thanks

it was great meeting you guys this weekend, thanks for the nice words, hard work does payoff. And yes I love talking about the business all day.

How we do things here may not be for everyone, it is always best to create a coffee house with the variations that you are comfortable with.
 
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scottdanzig

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Dec 23, 2005
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Howell, NJ
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Advice appreciated

You need to read this article that I posted on my blog that talks about the pitfalls of opening a coffee shop. Many of us get caught up in catching the American dream and don't wake up and smell the you know what. I have made that mistake once before.

http://volcanicacoffee.com/gourmet-coff ... ffee-shop/

I definitely do appreciate your advice and the story of your experience. I will be starting this venture on my own, so the unfortunate husband/wife feud shouldn't be an issue. As for the $8/hr work, well, your story does skim over the important fact that it is your own business you're working for, and not a dead-end job at a quickie mart. There must've been something else that went south, no? Were you having problems with rent, being in NYC? Not enough starting capital? Unexpected competition?

- Scott
 

buck100

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Aug 25, 2005
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Fort Lauderdale
Scott,

Sorry but that was not my story but one I posted from an article my brother sent me. The person's name is Michael Idov which is in the full article with his e-mail address.

As long as you properly plan, have realistic expectations, have enough cash to survive the first few months and love what you will be doing, you will be successful.
 

buck100

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Aug 25, 2005
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Fort Lauderdale
Scott,

I just thought of something after reading over your comments again. Instead of highing a consultant why not get a job at a competitor such as Starbucks and learn as much as you can. Strive to get promoted so you take on more responsibilities and learn new things. The experience and training could be much greater than highing a consutant.
 

rena

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Mar 1, 2006
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bandung, indonesia
I've check Muddy cup website. It's really good, Jim. Nice atmosphere, too bad I'm far away. I can not check it to site myself. I have a dream like Scott. But I guess it will be different here. Anyway this forum is usefull for me.
 

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