So You Want To Open a Coffee Shop?

Ready to take the plunge and open a coffee shop? Why not, when 54 percent of Americans over the age of 18 drink the stuff daily? Starting a new business can be tricky though, so we’ve pulled together a few tips and reading materials to help you on your way to becoming your own boss.

Coffee Shop

Three Monkeys Coffee Shop (Photo: Flickr)

Develop Your Vision

Before you go any further, know what you’re trying to do. Do you want to set up a coffee cart, kiosk, or drive through? Or are you looking to set up a sit down café? Who are your customers? What kind of product do you want to serve? How much money do you have to spend upfront? Do you have/need investors? Do you want to buy a franchise or start your own brand?

All of these questions can be answered by putting together a business plan. Start & Run a Coffee Bar by entrepreneurs Marybeth Harrison and Tom Matzen has some great tips on how to put together your business plan.

Location, Location, Location

Seriously. Location is (almost) everything, and it’s worth waiting to find the exact right spot. Start by mapping out the coffee shops in your area and noting where the gaps are. Make sure you look at potential customer traffic and needs, too. For example, if you want to set up a drive-through coffee shop, is it easily accessible from a busy road? Or is your coffee cart on a walk to a busy train station?

Do Your Homework

Before starting a coffee shop, find out what works in other places. Spend some time hanging out in coffee shops around town and further afoot, taking note of what does and does not work for them. While some people may be resistant to share their secrets, it’s always worth asking other area business owners for advice. Your own observations of their processes might also enable you to offer services the competition doesn’t!

Also conduct some research on the types of foods and drinks you want to serve, and what equipment you’ll need for each thing. If you’ll be buying your beans from roasters, set up interviews and tastings to make sure you’re serving a product that you and your customers will enjoy.

There are also some great books to check out, like How to Open a Financially Successful Coffee, Espresso & Tea Shop, which can help you answer any questions you have (or didn’t have, but should!).

Learn How to Make Good Coffee

A well thought-out business plan and thorough research mean nothing if you don’t take the time to learn how to make really good coffee! Scott Rao’s The Professional Barista’s Handbook: An Expert Guide to Preparing Espresso, Coffee, and Tea is a great place to start and will teach you everything from how to expertly grind beans for espresso to how to steam, foam, and pour milk and how to create awesome latte art.

Promote Your New Business

Now that you’re just about ready to open your doors, it’s time to market! As with any business, come up with a marketing plan to let people know that you’re open for business including ads, promotions, flyers, and business cards. An opening party with a free coffee tasting? A how-to workshop for curious coffee cuppers? A social media scavenger hunt leading to your store? The sky is the limit when it comes to creative, savvy business marketing.

Good luck!