Review of coffee schools and books


New member
Apr 8, 2013
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Wondering if anyone's attended any of these and what their opinion is? I would love to hear of any experiences and reviews of their coffee entrepreneur training courses would personally be the most beneficial.

For anyone else trying to educate themselves on starting a business, here's a review of the books I've gone through in the process...

Bean Business Basics (put out through Bellissimo - American Barista & Coffee School) - the most complete guide I've found so far, contains everything and more from the other "open your own coffee house" books I've owned. This deals with every aspect from the products to the financials in a more comprehensive manner than the others - it's the only one that feels like it provides enough information to have a shot at having a successful business. While I'm still interested in reading other specialty coffee training companies' guides (seems like a few others put them out), I can't imagine that this will compare negatively to them. Wish I had found this book right away. On the downside, I've found their customer service to be lacking enough to make me look at other companies to take the actual courses with when a little bit ago, I was all ready to attend and not look elsewhere.

Restaurant Financial Basics (Schmidgall, etc.) & Restaurant Success by the Numbers (Fields) - The former is a dryer, deeper look at the financial side of things (closer to a classroom text) and the latter is much more friendly to a layman such as myself. I'd recommend using RSbtN as an intro before tackling RFB if you're coming into things with limited financial knowledge. For that matter, RSbtN is by no means simple reading at times, so you may want to find something even more basic as a foundation. My one wish would be that these texts took a more workbook-like approach with various problems for the reader to figure out so one could gauge their proficiency with the concepts.

Start & Run a Coffee Bar (Matzen & Harrison) & Complete Idiots Guide to Starting & Running a Coffee Bar (Gilbert, etc.) - Bellissimo's book makes these redundant. S&RaCB is the better of the two, but both cover so many topics in so little room as to be relatively worthless.

Wake Up & Smell the Profit: 52 Guaranteed Ways to Make More Money in the Coffee Business (Richardson & Gilmartin) - A small, easy to run through book of tips to help your coffee shop. Covers different ground from the other books listed here and there seems to be many good, actionable recommendations. Great info on their style of management and customer service provided pithily. Looks like they have a new coffee book coming out in a few days, I'll definitely be checking it out.

Start Your Own Business (StartUp Series) - This seems to be one of the common beginner entrepreneur books out there - I had to use it for a business plan class. I found it to be extremely simplistic and shallow - any of these other books are a much better jumping off point. It attempts to cover all major aspects of opening a business and it does... all while managing to basically mention and gloss over them all. I would fear for the entrepreneur who needed information this basic.

Restaurant Owners Uncorked: 20 Owners Share Their Recipe for Success (Brawley) - Not coffee specific (don't think it's even mentioned), but I found this to be an uplifting book of interviews of owners who have started from all levels of experience to create a profitable business. Some nice details on the inner workings of many aspects of their places and how they were able to get their doors open. Nothing essential, but it can be a nice break to hear owners themselves tell how they have achieved their goals and the reader gets to see different approaches to several common issues to any food or beverage business.

Cafe! Best of Coffee Shop Design (Braun) - Bought this sight unseen from Amazon - consider it junk, though that'll depend on your design aesthetic. Pictures with a tiny floorplan of cafes from around the globe or the sets from Barbarella 2: Lost in Neo-Tokyo, you decide! Two or three places I found appealing, a few that look like they could be in airport terminals, "futuristic" Euro and Asian places already looking dated, and nothing in the classic continental or American styles. Look before you leap.

So that's my reviews so far - as you can see from my example, feel free to put anything you think is even peripherally helpful book and class review-wise in here. I look forward to hearing about anyone's experience with any instructional courses.

Edit: Reviews to come: Bellissimo's Effective & Essential Marketing, Espresso 101 dvd, Espresso 501 dvd, Everything but Coffee dvd, and hopefully more including whichever class my partner & myself take
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New member
May 30, 2013
Northern California
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I went through the "Coffee Pro" package at Boot Camp online, and I must say I am not sure if it was worth the $500. Some good stuff, but I think you can learn more right here on this site asking specific questions about what you don't understand and reading up on everything else here.
Reminds me of Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting: "You're just a kid, you don't have the faintest idea what you're talkin' dropped 150 grand on a ****ing education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library!"(save $1.50 with no late fees on coffee!)

ps...i'm sure there are a LOT of good reasons to get solid coffee education, just joking around here...