Has anyone compiled a list of sites/books for coffee biz?


New member
Aug 16, 2005
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Hey everyone,

I would like to introduce myself to the forum as yet another person who dreams of opening his own coffee house.

This forum is great and I have spent quite a bit of time reading many of the informative posts here. Has anyone compiled a list of useful sites and books for the coffee biz newbie? It seems that simply doing internet searches or searches for books on Amazon brings up a lot of duplicitous or irrelevant information. I have already purchased a couple books and, while there is some useful info, it seems that these type of books have a lot of "filler" just to make the book seem more substantial than it really is.

A little info about myself: After working for a number of years in corporate IT I realized I wasn't happy in my field and working in the corporate world in general. I had waited tables for 8 years when I was younger (I am 37 now) and enjoyed many aspects of being in the food and beverage service industry. I've always thought of opening a coffee house and financially in the position to do this. It is now just a matter of getting the ball rolling.

Some of the big questions I'm dealing with right now are:
1. Whether or not to get a partner - I've a couple friends that could do this with me but I've heard that many businesses fail because the partners do not agree on how to run the biz.
2. Whether to use my personal finances or to get a business loan.
3. Finding location, deciding size, writing biz plan, etc.

Thanks in advance for any helpful info guys! :D


Nov 3, 2004
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Congratulations on your decision to change careers and pursue something that you enjoy. Most of us here have taken that step at sometime and can tell you that although it will take a lot of work and will not be a quick and flawless process, it will be worth the effort. The only regret that I regularly hear expressed is that "I didn't do this earlier." (also true for myself)

You will find that there is a lot of good information available on discussion boards like this one, the Specialty Coffee Association of America Forums and even the Specialty Coffee Retailer Magazine Forums sites.

We have compiled that list you are looking for available through Amazon.com here: coffee business books

As for your other questions:

1) Partnerships

Partnerships can be more difficult to manage than a sole owner-operated business. Yes, it is true that many businesses collapse as the result of business partner disputes, but those I have witnessed could have been avoided if the owners had clearly documented their responsibilities both as owners and operators - a good partnership agreement establishes policies for common matters of argument: finances, responsibilities, management authority and finances. Did I mention finances?

In an ideal partnership each partners should have a complimentary relationship, whether by providing skills or resources that the other or others need. In the event that there is no partner available that you feel you can develop this sort of relationship, it's probably better to avoid. Even with the best agreement an unequal partnership is doomed to fail. (been married?) :)

2) Financing

There are three variables that you need to consider here: 1) keeping the business separate from your personal finances 2) maintaining as much control as you can and avoiding external oversight and 3) reducing the cost of money as much as possible.

When you are deciding how to finance your business consider each of these three items and choose the strategy that is most preferred by you.(assuming that you have access to unlimited personal funds - I guess variable #4 will be, what options do you have!)

I personally prefer to maintain separation between my personal and business finances and recommend that my clients do the same wherever possible, but would not do so at an overwhelming financial disadvantage (high interest rate) when compared by my personal investment. Be aware, however, that during the startup phases of a new business it is not always possible to separate yourself from that of your business due to some pledges and personal guarantees that may be required - in these cases it may be just as well to pursue the loan and leave yourself cash in the bank as breathing room.

3) Starting your business

Well, that is the trick, now isn't it! I suggest that you immerse yourself into the data available at the sources mentioned above and start to develop your business plan. The business plan is your opportunity to not only document every aspect of your business, but a process that will allow you to understand and resolve what is missing. In order to do this there may be some free resources provided by contributors at forums like these, the Small Business Administration or through the volunteer retired executives of SCORE. There are also paid consultants, such as myself and others that contribute to these forums for fun and visibility that help people start coffee shops for a living, but you may have already guessed that by now.

I hope that these suggestions are helpful - be sure to write back to the group and let us know how the plans come along.

Best of success!