Nothing beats the smell and taste of fresh, rich, dark coffee. As I write this, steam from my nearby mug of coffee is filling the room, fueling my brain as I work. It’s my sixth cup of the day, and yes, that does mean I’m drinking a slightly unhealthy amount. But that’s not the point. Moving on!
Coffee is the most consumed drink in the entire world. You may have thought it was Coca-Cola or something. But that brown sugar-water has nothing on coffee. And with the health benefits of (sensible) coffee consumption coming to light, there’s no need to feel guilty about it.
People’s sheer love of coffee can often pleasantly mutate into a desire to bring great coffee to people. That will often take the form of entering the coffee business. This can mean growing your own coffee beans, starting your own coffee shop, or mass-producing coffee. Or, perhaps, all three! Whatever the desire, I, as a coffee fanatic, salute you and your noble cause of bringing good coffee to the people.
So how does one actually take their first steps into this business? Well, there are several ways to do it. What this article provides is a mixture of information on several things relating to coffee production and supplying. So pour yourself a cup and read on! Perhaps by the end you will be informed and inspired (and, of course, buzzed and happy from your coffee).
Growing and roasting
The hard part is actually growing the coffee. Seriously. Don’t believe me? Well, do you ever wonder why all the good coffee comes from places like Brazil? Jamaica? Colombia? Coffee plants require tropical or subtropical conditions in order to grow. And a coffee plant only starts producing that sweet 2-10 pounds of coffee beans a year once it’s four years old. If any plant was akin to raising a child, it’s this one.
It isn’t, as many may claim, impossible to grow coffee beans outside of South America or similar climates. If your area isn’t prone to sudden cold spells, that you may be okay. Certainly somewhere like Florida isn’t a bad place to grow coffee plants. But what you may want to consider is buying a coffee plant that has already matured to four years old or so. They will still need a lot of careful maintenance, but you can start getting coffee beans from them right away
Of course, it’s the actual roasting of the coffee beans that will largely determine their taste quality. So it might not be a bad idea to just purchase unroasted coffee beans in bulk from somewhere like www.SmokinBeans.com. Try roasting them at home. Experiment. Try several techniques across several types of coffee beans. See if you can nail the brand and the roasting method that gets you an amazing home-roasted cup.
Production: small-scale or large-scale
So, you’ve got a beautiful roast. You’ve shared it with some friends and they adore it. They want some for themselves! Of course, you can keep it really small-scale and just make some for your friends, perhaps for some cash payments. (Make sure to declare that additional income with the IRS! And yes, I did write that sentence with a sad face.) Or you could go a little bigger and start selling your blend in your own shop. I’ll be writing more about that specifically later.
For now, let’s have a quick look at producing this on a much larger scale. Let’s say you don’t want to sell it to your friends exclusively. Let’s say you’re not too big on opening a coffee store and going face-to-face with customers. Maybe you want to start your own coffee brand. You want to start producing lots of it and selling it to grocery stores for widespread distribution. How do you actually go about making so much coffee?
Well, assuming you’ve got the right feedback from people who aren’t your friends? And gotten the right amount of cash through loans or investments? Then it’s a case of setting up a coffee plant. When we say “plant”, we often imagine a massive, corporate labyrinth of production. But this could be a medium-sized warehouse if you want. You’ll need to ensure you can get your hands on all the essential items for a coffee roasting plant. One thing not included on that list is a safe conveyance system. You can’t have mass production without conveyance, right? Thanks, Ford!
Conveyor belts are the traditional method of transport in production. But with tiny, fragile, multitudinous items that can lose quality if they aren’t handled delicately? You might want to look into tubular conveyance systems. Have a look at www.Cablevey.com for more information.
Opening a coffee shop
This is the ultimate dream for many people. The right coffee shop can be a great place to relax or hang out. They can also be great for working in, perhaps doing some solo writing work or holding small business meetings. There aren’t really any other places that can please so many crowds as a coffee shop.
If you want to start a coffee shop, then you’ll need to consider these key things. You need impeccable quality when it comes to the coffee. That cannot be stressed enough. Sure, you could hide a poor coffee flavour underneath sugar and gimmicks, like Starbucks or Costa. But why not aim for perfection? In the coffee business, nothing less than amazing is going to cut it. An espresso that is only 95% amazing is going to send customers to another store, fast.
The convenience and comfort of your place is also essential. What will the location of your coffee shop be? This can be a tricky one. It’s hard to name a place that has decent amounts of human traffic that doesn’t already have a few coffee shops. So wherever you go, you’re bound to have strong competition. With this in mind, it might not be worth worrying too much about being too close to another coffee shop. That being said, you don’t want to be in-between two corporate giants! But if you’re providing great coffee and can offer an amazing place to relax, then you could be the king of any given area, even one with a Starbucks in it. Get the comfiest seating you can find. Include sofas. Don’t have people sitting too close to heaters or speakers. Give them tables of a good height on which to use laptops (and, of course, place their coffee). Check out www.Pinterest.com for some interior design inspirations for coffee shops.
You may also want to consider a niche. What exactly is going to make your store unique, quirky, cool? I’d suggest some ideas, but all I can think about are the ones I might actually use one day! So start visiting some independent coffee stores and taking notes. How could you inject your passions into places like these?
Best of luck, fellow coffee freaks!