I am interested in what members think it takes to make a good coffee shop in a small college town. I am considering opening a small shop on main street in a small Maryland college town. All thoughts appreciated. Carl
Here's a suggestion for a good comprehensive (and cheap) book that will likely answer many of your questions. The title is Start & Run a Coffee Bar by Tom Matzen and Marybeth Harrison -- ISBN 1-55180-354-2. This book suggests roasting your own beans but I'm sure you can find suppliers of roasted beans.
I highly encourage you to write a business plan and know your numbers. You should be able to figure your profit margin and get an idea of your breakeven point based on your operating expenses. A profit margin for a typical 12 oz double latte with flavor should be about 76%.
Another book that helps me out because I'm not an MBA is Finance and Accounting, How to Keep Your Books and Manage Your Finances without an MBA, a CPA, or Ph.D." by Suzanne Caplan. ISBN 1-58062-196-1. This is a great book to get to know the terminology and nuts-n-bolts for the financial part of your business plan.
Here's some other suggestions off the top of my head.
Hang out in other coffee shops and get a feel for their prices in your area.
Check out CoffeeFest. There's a seminar coming up in March. <http://www.coffeefest.com>
Go to your state's SBA (Small Business Associate) for assistance on starting a business. Start with <http://www.sba.gov>. Also, there's the Small Business Development Center. You can get hooked up with an advisor and the service is free.
Business plan complete, profit margin is close to your estimate, we have engaged a coffee consultant and been spending time in local shops for months. Thanks for the advice and recommended reading.
OK, I get it. You are getting a feel of what others on this forum think in general. Glad to hear you've been doing your homework. I'm actually still working on my homework. Next time I'll just answer the question and let posters worry about their own plans.
From a prospective shop owner's point of view, I think a reasonable price for a double 12oz latte (no flavor) can be $2.50 to $2.75 depending on what others in the area charge and how much overhead you have. I would hope to serve such a drink at $2.50. In our town there is a private shop that sells this drink for $2.75 (8.8% sales tax included) and it's considered the best coffee in town.
Thinking from a coffee drinker's point of view I would start to balk at $2.75 or much over it. In my area there are a lot of people with disposable income and will pay $3+ for such a drink without a flinch.
I say double latte because I think a single shot (1 oz) of espresso in a 12oz drink is not "really good coffee".
Thats exactly the kind of feedback I am looking for. Thanks. What about the coffee mugs? Is it important to have them heated, what about throw aways for inside customers, what kind of decor is appealing? Carl
Since you've done some homework, when are you going to put your plan to work? Sounds like you have just about everything in place. Are you planning an espresso operation or coffee shop operation? There is a slight difference. One business is built on speed and getting your customer in and out with consistancy, while the other you can take your time in drink prepration and the customer can sit and relax. In either case have fun and be creative.
We are in negotiations for a space in a historic town which hosts a liberal arts college (3 minute walk) from our front door. The plan is to offer espresso based drinks and gourmet coffee (till we convert em all). We will have live music of different venues (different days of the week) after 7 PM. The plan is for patrons to be able to come in, sit and chat a while (regular tables, some wing back chairs) and loaf if they like, or just grab and go if they have to. We will seat about 50 plus 20 outside seats at a nearby ampitheater. Two primary sections, first is traditional, warm, target the over 30 crowd. Second (near the music) will cater to a different decor. We will offer fresh baked (bakery goods from a local bakery), gourmet sandwiches (or half sandwiches from a local sandwiche shop). Some scooped ices cream (for the kids on Sunday afternoon out with their parents from a local creamery). High end deserts. Also plan to offer free Wi Fi and Blue Tooth connection to the internet. Plan is to provide the best espresso and coffee anywhere within a reasonable driving distance. Primary focus is espresso and coffee, everything else is just to bring in the espresso and coffee crowd. Name will be the Gathering Grounds Coffee House. We make coffee drinks and nothing else. Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated. Plan to open 4/1 or before. Carl
I am an Interior Design student starting a thesis project, which will be a coffee shop similar to the one you've described. I am interested in the social aspects of multi-functional coffee houses with a community gathering spot type of feel. I'd like to keep in contact with you to see what you learn about how your facility type works out.. if it needs to evolve based on whether or not all the funcitons you've described (live music, espresso consumption, relaxed conversing, internet access, eating sandwiches and ice cream) work out as planned.
How did you come to decide on the extra things your coffee shop will offer? Was it based on informal research at coffee shops or did you come across any published literature that recommends things like selling sandwiches or inviting musicians to play after 7pm in your venue?
thanks for any insights.... look forward to hearing how your coffee shop does upon its opening. Also... i live near my campus at the University of Cincinnati and would be happy to answer questions about coffee shops here or my preferences as a college-age consumer.