Help a Newbie Out


New member
Dec 31, 2008
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I originally posted this in another section, but I think it better belongs here.
I'm new, just joined.

My wife and I are planning to open a coffee shop in the next 2 to 5 years. In our research and study, the literature says things like, "try to find vendors with representatives in your area in case you need an emergency repair, or your orders are messed up (e.g. a box of cups instead of a case)."

This makes perfect sense.

However we've gotten no advice on how or where to find this vendors. I'm looking for equipment (espresso machines, ice machines, freezers) vendors, coffee vendors, and supply vendors (cups, lids, etc). You know the drill.

So how do I find these people?


Andrew Hollinger
Hello Andrew welcome to coffeeforums! I would say a good first investment would be to join the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America). If I am not wrong you can initially do this with a individual membership for research purposes, which is not too expensive. You can then access the database for suppliers in your area. Most big national suppliers of machines, refrigeration equiptment etc should have representation in every state.


New member
Where are you looking to open a shop?
Cups and consumables are all available through the major food service guys like Sysco, US Foodservice, or a bunch of smaller regional players. Where you start to see gaps in service on the local level are for the specialty items sauces,syrups and such. You can manage that by ordering online and being proactive about inventory. You just have to have a firm grasp on lead times and keep a good back stock. Don't sacrifice quality ingredients just because you can't find a local distributor.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Feb 28, 2008
Near Philadelphia, PA
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Hello Andrew,

Welcome to the Coffee Forums!

I just wanted to share something a friend once told me after he opened his restaurant a few years ago. He said that when he was doing the research for his business and looking for local vendors, (besides using the local yellow pages) he paid attention to the names on the trucks that were making deliveries to local restaurants, etc. He also went into the shops and talked to the owners and got their recommendations. There is a lot of "footwork" that a person has to do in order to open a business. It's great that now-a-days, the Internet has made things much easier to check out the prices and locations of distributors and compare them.

I'm sure as soon as you let the Coffee Forum members know where you plan to open your coffee shop, you'll get lots of responses with suggestions of local distributors to check out.



New member
Oct 30, 2005
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If you can afford it, plan to attend Coffee Fest in Chicago, Nevada, Seatlle, WAshington, DC. The next coffee fest is in Chicago (february 2009) The registration is around $20.00. If you searched around, you will find a free admission ticket. See what you can get from the link below.


New member
Dec 31, 2008
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Thanks for all those speedy responses!

I guess I forgot to include some of the information, like where I'm located, that you'd need to help me out.

Right now my wife and I are both teachers in South Texas--McAllen, TX. As far as being in a good place savings-wise, we estimate 2-5 years before we can open the doors to our own coffee shop.

I used to work at the Starbucks (I know) in a Barnes & Noble. And when our espresso machine went on the fritz, the repair guy had to come all the way from Corpus Christi, TX, about two and a half hours drive.

I'm not so worried about finding people to clean my work rags or deliver cups as I am about having reps close by (or willing to really communicate with me) in the event of a screwed up order or equipment malfunction.

So there you have it. We're looking to open shop in McAllen, TX (deep South) in about 2-5 years.