How did you get experience?


New member
Oct 15, 2007
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Hello. This is my first post to this great forum.

I''m wondering how you all got experience before opening your own coffee shop business? Did you work in a coffee shop before? How did you learn about making great coffee and espresso drinks, as well as what it takes to run the business?


John P

Active member
Jan 5, 2007
Salt Lake City
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There are really only a handful of coffeeshops you can work in and learn to make great coffee. Most places I wouldn't consider as good espresso experience. BUT you do learn some valuable things, like how to handle a rush, how to recall orders, management and leadership skilles,etc, so there can be something of value working at a chain like Starbucks, Tully's Caribou, etc.

Business experience has to come from life experience, common sense, business sense and book smarts... but ultimately you have to live it, and then study the principles behind it to understand what makes it tick both on paper and in life. I had three years auditing experience, two years as an internal auditor, as well as time in the hospitality (hotel) industry in restaurants from dishwasher to busser to desk management, to part-time bar tender, etc., and lots of time working tipped positions from bellman to pizza delivery. I think more of a synergetic (whole is greater than the sum of its parts) thing, and probably the sort of mish-mash many business people have had, but for me it was about asking the tough questions, always understanding what's going on behind the scenes, and HOW each of these businesses made and lost money. All of it will come into play.

Most places (90%+) never learn to make good espresso and good coffee and that is where you have the opportunity to shine, to differentiate.

To learn any great craft you either need to find a great mentor or you have to be investigate and experiment on your own by taking the initiative. There are plenty of resources on the web for correct espresso making procedures such as CoffeeGeek and home-barista.

I started with reading CG and by corresponding with a couple of very talented barista, got a Mazzer mini and a pro-sumer level espresso machine and sourced some quality fresh espresso and was pulling better shots in two hours than I could get anywhere in town. After that I tested nearly a hundred different espressos, blind cupping the final four or five and knew we were ready to push ahead. I now roast all my own espresso and select Single Origin coffees and as each day goes by I learn more about both business and coffee. It's an ongoing process.