Want to help build a coffee shop?

DickV3636

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Aug 14, 2017
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Hi! My wife and I are embarking on a project to open a coffee shop designed to provide meaningful and competitively paid employment for our neighbors with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our timeline is a late summer 2018 opening. We will be locating on the ground floor retail of a new student housing building located in downtown Burlington, Vermont US. My wife is a special needs educator and I am a business analyst/consultant project manager who spent the last two decades implementing technology projects for clients incl SBUX, Tim Hortons, Wendy's and others.

We are approaching this as a project, identifying what the barriers are to employment and testing solutions. We will be a for-profit Vermont Benefit Corporation. Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities have an unemployment rate of 70%+ and often live lives in isolation and dependence. I believe that by implementing new technologies, adapting business practices and incorporating supportive training that we can provide opportunities for some of these folks.

For example - could we employ some folks currently unemployed if we enacted the following? Could we do it profitably? Would the public be accepting?
- Top end superautomatic espresso machines to allow employees to focus on service
- Coffee ordering app to allow a few extra minutes for drink preparation
- Single serve coffee preparation machines such as steampunk or other
- Does a coffee shop in 2018 really need to accept cash? Cashless shop to expand employment opportunities?
- Facial recognition software that remembers and prompts barista of customer's usual order?
- 3d printers using espresso powder as "ink" for latte art
and other equally outrageous ideas both low and high tech.

We intend to run this project as open source so that anyone else considering hiring folks with challenges can see what works and what doesn't. We'd love constructive input from people with coffee shop operations, universal design and other experience. We are aggregating the information on facebook- please search for "Perky Planet Project" for our group. Our proposed shop is a modest 760 square foot and is under construction, we have a blank (though tiny) slate.

Hope to get some input from you there!
 

JoeConiglioArmenia

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Nov 10, 2017
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NYC
Fantastic idea, I love constructive ideas to help those with disabilities have the power to perform there tasks with the utmost efficiency. I think there are many innovative ideas you and your wife have. The true question is not can you, but if your market is right for employing these innovations. I think you are right in the location of student housing building vs main st. These innovations will initially be explored by the millennial+ generations but later accepted by all coffee drinkers regardless of age if the product/service presented is exemplary. For instance if you had all these innovations firing on all cylinders and a highly effective disabled staff selling average or "ok" coffee than the business will fail. You need to be able to automate a great coffee consistently to be profitable. Many on this board will tell you a normal coffee shop is hard to run/operate this would be a great challenge and bookmark for future disabled retail operations. Do you plan to roast on site? I think the story needs to be told for the patron to appreciate the ethos of the cafe. Good luck and God Bless you and your wife for taking on this challenge!
 
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DickV3636

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Hi Joe, thank you for the kind words. I agree that nothing else much matters if we can't get a quality coffee in the cup every time. I think for my application that automation is going to be key; and I have been closely watching the newer machines. In particular the Rancilio Egro line for espresso drinks. Regardless of the equipment I ultimately choose you are right that having a system that produces a consistent great product will be key.

I don't think I will tackle roasting on-site at this juncture, mostly because the proposed shop is tight at 760 sf. There is another shop being constructed in the building 100 yards away that will come in around 1k foot which I am considering as well and it will have access to hood exhaust. At this point though I am chatting with some local quality roasters and will most likely utilize them to start. 760 shop on far left of this photo, 1k just right of mid-building. 2017-11-10_0540.png2017-12-15_1734.png
 

asquires

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Apr 16, 2014
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Missoula, Montana
Hi there, happy 2018!

What an exciting venture to read through today. I believe with passion and a great "why" people can accomplish great things. It sounds as if you and your wife have laid some well thought out plans. I'd love to be in the conversation with this project (and I also just joined the group on Facebook). I've seen/heard of a few coffee shops open recently nationally that have focused on employing disabled adults, or other unique avenues such as employing troubled teens/young adults. Assuming your coffee is high quality, great things are possible.

I own and operate a coffee roasting business in Missoula, Montana called Hygge Coffee Co. My mother is a Special Ed teacher (currently she is in Olympia, WA), we sell a "Buddy Walk Blend" to help raise funds and awareness for the Down Syndrome community in Missoula, and I'd love to be a small part of what you are dreaming up. Looking forward to more communication about it all, good for you guys!
 

JoeConiglioArmenia

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Nov 10, 2017
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NYC
Hi Joe, thank you for the kind words. I agree that nothing else much matters if we can't get a quality coffee in the cup every time. I think for my application that automation is going to be key; and I have been closely watching the newer machines. In particular the Rancilio Egro line for espresso drinks. Regardless of the equipment I ultimately choose you are right that having a system that produces a consistent great product will be key.

I don't think I will tackle roasting on-site at this juncture, mostly because the proposed shop is tight at 760 sf. There is another shop being constructed in the building 100 yards away that will come in around 1k foot which I am considering as well and it will have access to hood exhaust. At this point though I am chatting with some local quality roasters and will most likely utilize them to start. 760 shop on far left of this photo, 1k just right of mid-building. View attachment 9111View attachment 9112

Looks great, good luck! Keep this thread alive and I am hopeful more shop owners past/present chime in with any experience they have with said machines. It may make sense to do something with "asquires" as well if cost prohibits, would be great for the case from various angles. Funny and ironic my fiance' is a special education teacher as well so I often speak about this topic. I also have a cousin with down syndrome so I am connected on a personal level as well. I think the project will connect with many the same way it has for just two respondents of this thread.
 

espressogurus

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Aug 31, 2016
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Baltimore, MD, USA
awesome idea, would love to help. I've been a coffee tech for a while and part of my job is doing surveys for new cafe/coffee shops & quality training & barista training & Q/T & Installation, Sales, Repairs and preventive Maintenance.

I would have a pretty good idea about the general setup and type of equipment you will require. I can help you out by offering my services for free. You will need to purchase the equipment on your own from whom ever you like. if you need help in that regard I can also point the way to the best equipmentt sellers as well
 
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DickV3636

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Hi Yasar,

We are blown away by your generosity, thank you very much. I've already downloaded many of the guides on your site. I promise to be respectful of your time. I intend to be at Coffee Fest in Baltimore in March, will you be there? If so perhaps I can buy you lunch and we can map out a equipment plan for our proposed menu. thanks again!

awesome idea, would love to help. I've been a coffee tech for a while and part of my job is doing surveys for new cafe/coffee shops & quality training & barista training & Q/T & Installation, Sales, Repairs and preventive Maintenance.

I would have a pretty good idea about the general setup and type of equipment you will require. I can help you out by offering my services for free. You will need to purchase the equipment on your own from whom ever you like. if you need help in that regard I can also point the way to the best equipmentt sellers as well
 
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DickV3636

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The Perky Planet Project would like to announce that Taylor Bolin, M.Ed has agree to provide consulting services to our project.
Taylor graduated summa cum laude from Texas Tech University with a MEd in Special Education and Autism, and is the founder and owner of Ausome Adaptive, LLC. Ausome Adaptive provides adaptive life coaching and adaptive fitness programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Wichita Falls, TX. Taylor joins Christine Vaughn, Special Educator as we plan our work to build a bespoke business for the employment of our neighbors with disabilities.
We are thrilled to have Taylor on board and look forward to drawing on her education, experience and passion as we move forward.
26231373_1978372618854747_2960383789336210343_n.jpg

The Perky Planet Project would like to announce that Lynn Kaelber has agree to manage the crowdfunding campaigns for us.
A former Vice President of online consumer strategy with Wells Fargo and Managing Directer of GMAC Residential, Lynn has spent the last 10 years in a Senior Management Consultant for a variety of entities in the banking, energy, real estate and business startup fields.
While the scope of our project today is limited to a single coffee shop in Burlington, Vermont our vision is to someday become a resource for others who wish to launch new ventures utilizing technology, business practice modification, and innovation to make workplaces that are designed to provide meaningful, competitively paid employment to their neighbors with disabilities. We hope that what we learn during the crowdfunding process can be used by others to make business ownership a possibility.
We are thrilled and humbled to welcome Lynn aboard!Lynn.jpg
 

JoeConiglioArmenia

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Nov 10, 2017
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NYC
The Perky Planet Project would like to announce that Taylor Bolin, M.Ed has agree to provide consulting services to our project.
Taylor graduated summa cum laude from Texas Tech University with a MEd in Special Education and Autism, and is the founder and owner of Ausome Adaptive, LLC. Ausome Adaptive provides adaptive life coaching and adaptive fitness programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Wichita Falls, TX. Taylor joins Christine Vaughn, Special Educator as we plan our work to build a bespoke business for the employment of our neighbors with disabilities.
We are thrilled to have Taylor on board and look forward to drawing on her education, experience and passion as we move forward.
View attachment 9196

The Perky Planet Project would like to announce that Lynn Kaelber has agree to manage the crowdfunding campaigns for us.
A former Vice President of online consumer strategy with Wells Fargo and Managing Directer of GMAC Residential, Lynn has spent the last 10 years in a Senior Management Consultant for a variety of entities in the banking, energy, real estate and business startup fields.
While the scope of our project today is limited to a single coffee shop in Burlington, Vermont our vision is to someday become a resource for others who wish to launch new ventures utilizing technology, business practice modification, and innovation to make workplaces that are designed to provide meaningful, competitively paid employment to their neighbors with disabilities. We hope that what we learn during the crowdfunding process can be used by others to make business ownership a possibility.
We are thrilled and humbled to welcome Lynn aboard!View attachment 9197

Thank you for the update and it looks like you have two fantastic additions to the team! I cannot wait for the next update. Did you decide on the smaller or bigger shop yet? Also any clarity on the espresso machine?
 

CoffeeJunky

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Dec 7, 2012
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Michigan, US
Dick, I am have access to the very simple automatic espresso machine designed in Japan and manufactured in China. I represent the wholesale company here in the states. The price is unbeatable, very simple to use and very durable. Let me know if I can be assistant to your venture.

CJ
 
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DickV3636

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Hi, my intent for this project has always been to gather enough information so that owners can make an informed choice as to whether it makes business sense to hire disabled workers. There is empirical evidence that disabled employees are effective, enthusiastic, have a lower turnover rate, lower absenteeism and are accepted by the general public. Given the difficulties in hiring and keeping good employees in the service industry, it seems that if barriers to employment can be overcome by a change in business practice or implementing technology that shop owners would make those investments. When that happens I feel that a real change can be made in peoples lives, more so than than the last 40 years of government studies/programs/tax incentives. Rather than creating a better iron lung, profitable business models cure the underlying disease.

To that end for my shop I am projecting that modifying equipment (super-auto, auto dosing grinder, touch screen menu, auto-froth, counter/shop modifications) will cost 15k more than a shop with equipped not so equipped. A nice to have would be a 2kg roaster (setup with computerized profiling), Avirnaki or similar, grinding and packaging equipment etc of 25k. Because I do not know how much supervision and training will be involved I am projecting labor costs of 40% of sales, or an additional 35k in payrolls in my pro-formas. As you can imagine the pro-forma financials for a 150/ticket a day shop are disastrous with those numbers. The numbers are worse-case but must be dealt with and I have chosen not to seek grants, charity/donations etc., and I am not rich. My guess is the average shop owner is not rich either and would not take on debt/seek charity/chase grants to hire disabled employees either.

Because of that we are launching an Indiegogo campaign on March 7, pre-selling coffee, offering merchandise etc. While of course we are hoping to earn money for the startup I also want to prove that a shop can fund equipment and training costs without taking on debt by gathering support from your community in the form of pre-sales. Again, I do not know the numbers but am operating on the assumption that if our project will show up in the newsfeed of 4 million people on March 7 when our campaign launches, that perhaps 1 person in 1,000 will decide to buy a cool t-shirt or pound of coffee. To make that happen we are using thunderclap.it to create a social media flash-mob. As of this morning our social media reach on that day is 390,000 of our 4 million goal.

Please consider joining our flash mob. You can find out more and sign up at https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/67160-coffee-social-revolution

thanks!
 

almico

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Feb 17, 2015
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Hi Joe, thank you for the kind words. I agree that nothing else much matters if we can't get a quality coffee in the cup every time. I think for my application that automation is going to be key; and I have been closely watching the newer machines. In particular the Rancilio Egro line for espresso drinks. Regardless of the equipment I ultimately choose you are right that having a system that produces a consistent great product will be key.

I don't think I will tackle roasting on-site at this juncture, mostly because the proposed shop is tight at 760 sf. There is another shop being constructed in the building 100 yards away that will come in around 1k foot which I am considering as well and it will have access to hood exhaust. At this point though I am chatting with some local quality roasters and will most likely utilize them to start. 760 shop on far left of this photo, 1k just right of mid-building. View attachment 9111View attachment 9112

Starbucks has all the automation and unlimited resources to provide a consistently bad cup of coffee every time. It works for Starbucks...not sure it will work for a start up.
 

Musicphan

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May 11, 2014
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Kansas City
There is another shop being constructed in the building 100 yards away that will come in around 1k foot which I am considering as well and it will have access to hood exhaust. View attachment 9111View attachment 9112

I hate to be a downer... but I'm concerned for you if your going to have a competitor 100 yards away. Any lease I sign requires a non-compete in the building/project/development. Your easily going to split your #'s in half.. to me that is not a wise business decision.
 
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DickV3636

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Aug 14, 2017
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You are absolutely correct. I should have said that there is another retail space available that is larger. It's under construction so there is nothing there now. Any lease I sign will have a non-compete. Thanks for the reminder!

I hate to be a downer... but I'm concerned for you if your going to have a competitor 100 yards away. Any lease I sign requires a non-compete in the building/project/development. Your easily going to split your #'s in half.. to me that is not a wise business decision.
 
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