Almost six months... Important things learned? That people hate to be really cold or wet. This is an issue because we are mobile and nasty weather keeps them from stopping by. Biggest surprises thusfar? At this infant stage we are almost to the point of breaking even, I think 75-80% there. We have put alot of work into the business and it is paying off, but we really expected it to take a year or two to see such progress.
21 years and how things have changed!! When I first got in the biz Colombian was only $4.99 and Jamaican was $19.99! People were serving coffees in 8 oz and 12 oz cups only . There wasn't any 16 oz or 20 oz.! Shots were pulled at 18 seconds and people were storing their coffee in the fridge and freezer but over the years the industry has moved forward thanks to all of the greats that have been and us that are...I am proud to be part of this industry and look forward to learning and helping others learn in the years to come!
Coming up to 2 years and I have learned that whether it is coffee, paintings or printing, sales is sales but I would rather have coffee to learn about, talk about and drink in the "unsold" bin any day of the week!
We are in our 14th year. I love my little business. The past couple of years have been the least profitable, but we are still making a comfortable living off of our one little hut. We hope to be able to sell some day in the not to distant future in hopes of moving to Montana to start all over again. This business is the best
Big surprises... With all of the Corporate competition out there, we still get new customers every day. Some things that you think will sell so well just never make it off the ground. Some Ideas you should have thought of sooner (like accepting credit cards...duh!!!). That, in general, people can be even more stupid than you had previously though them to be.
Two years. The first, made a 6000 loss. The second, made a 30,000 profit because we stopped buying in and made 95% all our own food items.
Had we known then what great coffee tasted like we might have had a chance to make it ourselves, but alas, we did not, and as a result we made possibly the worst coffee anywhere. We only made this horrendous discover after we sold up and started visiting other cafes.
Most valuable lesson:
not to expect the old "life style" experience. Its jolly hard work, long hours, staffing issues (staff often make more wages than the owner).
If its a cafe, learn about coffee ! Coffee is a culture, not simply a sales product. Many cafe goer's these days want and expect the owner to have a passion for coffee that drives the establishment and filters down to all staff. An owner with passion for coffee employs staff with same and barista with same. Bad coffee is a reflection on an owner without passion.
Another valuable insight:
whilst the food and beverage side is vitally important, service is moreso IMO.
A wise and very experienced restauranteur once told me "great service with average food will always win over great food and poor service"
I have been a coffee professional for 17 years, and I never want to leave. Coffee is so much fun and versatile.
When it comes to the industry, 80% of the nation drinks it and 50% drink it every day. The average coffee consumer spends 5 dollars a day which = about $1825.00 a year. That means as much as $273,750,000,000 are spent every year on coffee related transactions.
So how do we in the coffee business get ourselves in front of the consumers, and how do we gauge what they will continue to want in their coffee drinking experience??? Where is the industry going and how do we get in front of the trends?
To answer that question, we need to ask another, what are the concerns in our business and how do we overcome them…