Results 1 to 46 of 46

Thread: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    45

    Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi All,

    Im currently working in IT and have done so for 12 years - the pay is fantastic and up until now, jobs have been a plenty. At the moment there is a lull in the market (of the particular level and type of work Im after ). Anyway at the end of the month I am contemplating unemployment and would really like to do something outside the realm of IT.

    So... I have a passion for coffee. My only experience with making it is a short TAFE course, an Espresso Mastery course at Epic Espresso and now just practising at home with a Sunbeam EM6910. I know nothing about running a business other than the consultancy work I do within IT. However, Im willing to put in a lot of blood sweat and tears.

    I guess my main question is, if there is anyone in the business at the moment, particularly in Perth, that can tell me what effect the global economic crisis has had on their business, if any?

    The other questions I have are:

    - Am I crazy?
    - What figures would I be looking at aside from leasing to startup ie Coffee making equipment, POS, shop fit out etc (Im looking small at the moment)
    - I have a few ideas in mind for location (outer suburbia) but what about product, do I stick to coffee only, coffee + cake, coffee + light meals?
    - What type of fitout, modern / retro / charm&character

    So what is it about your favourite coffee shop that makes it just that?

    Ive drunk a lot of crap coffee in my time and some of those businesses are still going, if I can deliver a good consistent product, I dont see the harm in trying... Im dead serious about this so all critisism accepted.

    P.S - If anyone has a small coffee business in Perth that could do with a part time trainee free of charge, ie ME, let me know. Im extremely keen to learn and no looking to compete with your business (I hope)

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Blue Mountains
    Posts
    136

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    I would compare it to sitting in a caravan park haveing a beer watching the Park Manager talking to people in between emptying bins, and you think ahhhhh what a top job he has, until your the sucker emptying the bins working 7 days a week 24 hours a day, and not noticeing you live by the seaside anymore. Sorry to kill the romance of it, and I hope you make a squillion bucks, I just think the headache that probaly comes with it is not worth it. I dont know if you married or not or have a family, but if you do have a good look at them and ask yourself, do I really want to be away from the 12 hours a day 7 days a week while I start a bussiness that might risk there happines and the roof over there heads?

    Thats not coming from any great experience in small bussiness, I have always worked for the government, (defence force, now one of the emergency services) and i really like walking out of work knowing that its no longer my responsibility regardless of what may happen whilst I am not there, and best of all, knowing that every second Friday the government says thanks for coming mate, see you next week. (and knowing how much of a thankyou I am getting).

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    711

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Whyatt link=1231388049/0#0 date=1231388049
    Hi All,

    Im currently working in IT and have done so for 12 years - the pay is fantastic and up until now, jobs have been a plenty. At the moment there is a lull in the market (of the particular level and type of work Im after ). Anyway at the end of the month I am contemplating unemployment and would really like to do something outside the realm of IT.
    When you say you are contemplating unemployment, is that a choice of yours or not yours to make? If it is your choice, dont do it dude....
    However, if you are facing unemployment through no choice of yours, then its worth exploring. Just be aware that doing this out of passion and doing it as a business can be very different. I often get comments in my workplace that Im in the wrong line and should consider opening a cafe instead... My response to them is exactly that, I put a lot of heart and effort into making my coffee for the morning out of interest but I cant see doing it for a living. Perhaps a good way to get a feel of the industry is to look for a part time or full-time (if available) job in a cafe and go from there.
    When I was retrenched in 2003, I seriously contemplated getting into the restaurant business. Spent a few days working in a charcoal chicken shop and decided that the money may be good (eventually) but the time spent in it wasnt worth any amount of money I could (potentially) earn because it would have been time away from family and to me that was just not worth it. From outside we only see the opening and closing times but the place is run from 7am to midnight for an opening time of 10am and closing of 9pm.

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    45

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    I understand both points - I got in to IT because I had a passion, now when I get home the last thing I want to do is turn on a computer for fun, its only ever for work. I now hate IT, but Im good at it so it sticks. Unemployment would be by choice, only because otherwise Id have to apply for roles that Im over qualified for and would put me back 5 years just because there is nothing else out there. The last time I tried that, no one would employ me because they could see that career options at their company were limited and I would leave shortly after starting, through boredom. It simply wasnt a good way to retain knowledge.

    I guess I figure if I can get the business up and running successfully, I can employ good people and have them running it for me while I concentrate on further developing different aspects of the business or other business opportunities rather than staying hands on. This would be a bit more difficult for me as Im a control freak but yes, I have family that I adore and it would be something that would need to happen rather than something I wanted to happen.

    I chose coffee because I want to share my passion with other people. Regardless of whether it is coffee or chickens, Im at the point where I am sick of working for other people, I have ambitions of my own and the drive to follow them through. I want the opportunity to be in charge and if it fails, its nobodys fault but my own. Ownership and responsibility...

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    346

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    go for it man. Everyone will tell you its a crazy idea but just do it anyway.

    I would defiantly get a job at a quality, busy cafe though for at least a few months first. You will learn heaps, even if its only on the weekends.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    1,339

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Hi Scott and a belated welcome to CS!

    About 18 months ago I had an idea to start a coffee business, though different to yours. Six months later I tossed in a well paid job and did it. I had previously owned and run my own business in an entirely different field.

    Some answers and considerations...

    Cost? Well, if you lease an empty shop, do it up yourself, and *only* serve coffee, then you might get away with $50K. You might add another $20K if youre going to do food. That includes your lease for a year. Dont expect "profits" to cover the rent. You are unlikely to make any profits in the first year - if you survive. Last time I looked, over 50% of businesses fail in their first year. Add another $X for the loss of whatever youre making per annum now. You need to factor that in.

    If you do choose to do food, you simply cant do it by yourself. Again, in your first year, any employees will earn more than you do - if you think you might begrudge that, forget it.

    No matter how good your employees are, how will you know theyre not helping themselves to the till when youre not there? If you can get a business partner you trust, things will be easier.

    You currently have one employer. When you work for yourself all of your customers will be your employers.

    Outer suburbia sounds like you want to opt out, not share your passion. Forgive me for saying so, but you sound disillusioned rather than passionate. You mention you "have ambitions". I suggest you figure out what they really are and consider whether whatever you do next will bring you closer to achieving these ambitions. If the honest answer is, "yes" and the bank balance will allow, then do it. If not, you might like to rethink it.

    Cheers!

  7. #7
    TC
    TC is offline
    .
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    14,665

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Quote Originally Posted by cuppacoffee link=1231388049/0#5 date=1231403955
    Hi Scott and a belated welcome to CS!

    About 18 months ago I had an idea to start a coffee business, though different to yours. *Six months later I tossed in a well paid job and did it. *I had previously owned and run my own business in an entirely different field.

    Some answers and considerations...

    Cost? *Well, if you lease an empty shop, do it up yourself, and *only* serve coffee, then you might get away with $50K. *You might add another $20K if youre going to do food. *That includes your lease for a year. *Dont expect "profits" to cover the rent. *You are unlikely to make any profits in the first year - if you survive. *Last time I looked, over 50% of businesses fail in their first year. *Add another $X for the loss of whatever youre making per annum now. *You need to factor that in.

    If you do choose to do food, you simply cant do it by yourself. *Again, in your first year, any employees will earn more than you do - if you think you might begrudge that, forget it.

    No matter how good your employees are, how will you know theyre not helping themselves to the till when youre not there? *If you can get a business partner you trust, things will be easier.

    You currently have one employer. *When you work for yourself all of your customers will be your employers.

    Outer suburbia sounds like you want to opt out, not share your passion. *Forgive me for saying so, but you sound disillusioned rather than passionate. *You mention you "have ambitions". *I suggest you figure out what they really are and consider whether whatever you do next will bring you closer to achieving these ambitions. *If the honest answer is, "yes" and the bank balance will allow, then do it. *If not, you might like to rethink it.

    Cheers!
    Wise words Den,

    I too cannot advise too strongly that you must tread extremely cautiously and in the present economic climate the prudent route is to take the pay cut and do what you can do.

    With little business experience, there is a good chance that you will become one of the unhappy 50% by making the same mistakes most newbies do.

    As Den has suggested, youll make nothing for at least a year to 18 months. Can you support that? If you have to borrow to set anything up, forget it. Walk away from the bank.

    Then- allocate roughly 30% in food/coffee costs, 30% labour, 8-12% rent, roughly 10% GST, say 5% for utilities, misc. costs and maintenance, funds for super and workcare payments and the rest is yours. You will only make money by working 70 hours a week and then your employees will likely do better than you do.

    When I taught at the academy, I saw sea-changers every week thinking that theyd make a few cups of coffee for their mates while supervising their staff and then empty the wheelbarrow of cash into the Ferrari each day before driving off into the sunset. Most of them ended up blowing their super and some lost their houses as well.

    If you want to do this, affiliate with someone who knows what theyre doing, do a business management course and spend at least 12 months working in a cafe and/or a good restaraunt (for a boss) before you even think about it...Then still dont do it! ;)

    I have had 4 cafes, 2 of which were really busy but would think very seriously before doing it again and then would do it in a very specific way with minimal food.

    Chris







  8. #8
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Internet
    Posts
    16,681
    Blog Entries
    1

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...


    I dont really need to comment as the opinions above are all on the money, either "do it right" or "run away screaming"
    ;)

    ... but this quote ...

    I would compare it to sitting in a caravan park haveing a beer watching the Park Manager talking to people in between emptying bins, and you think ahhhhh what a top job he has, until your the sucker emptying the bins working 7 days a week 24 hours a day, and not noticeing you live by the seaside anymore
    I really love that analogy, and empyting the bins is one of his better jobs compared to putting your arm in a blocked loo and cleaning up after human pigs day-in day-out.

    A cafe is not quite in the same league but I expect the hours are similar and maybe some of the tasks too.


  9. #9
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    10,496

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Scott,

    Dennis and Chris speak from expereince and I value their opinions.

    Im currently unemployed (formerly IT).
    The last (and first) time I was in this situation was 2.5 years ago.
    I was out of work for 11 months.
    The most work I found in that time was a few shifts over a few weeks at a small shop doing some coffee and some food.

    One reason I did it was to prove to myself that my barista certificate was more than a piece of paper.
    Another was to see what it was really like on the other side of the machine.

    I had briefly considered starting a mobile coffee business but decided against it because of the costs and risks. (I was previously a banker for 20 years - 15 in lending, so can do the math.)

    Ive worked in food before with my father.
    Its hot, dirty and tiring work.

    Chris mentioned the current economic climate. I think this is the time to keep any job you have not a time to take big life changing risks.

    Still, providing you do your homework and know all the risks you may be taking, if you decide its worth taking the chance, the decision is yours.

    Write up a business plan so you can see what it looks like on paper.

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    45

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Wise words indeed, thankyou for the prudently honest feedback, it is appreciated.

    Im not easily discouraged and Im also intelligent and cautious. I wouldnt go in to something like this with my head in the sand. Im in the very early stages of consideration, Id work up an in depth business case before spending a cent. Id do everything within my powers to make sure I was well educated and informed on what I needed to do/have to move forward. If it wasnt viable, I wouldnt take the risk.

    Outer suburbia is not my idea of opting out, there is a need for good coffee in the outer suburban area, a satelitte city somewhat. I live over 30kms from Perth city and if *I* wanted a decent coffee, thats pretty much how far Id have to go unless I was willing to drink McLattes! Hence Ive started making my own. There are a lot of commercial business customers in the area, the idea would be to capture the local enthusiast market. Cautious perhaps.... If I want to compete in the big smoke, I need to be good. How successful would I be competing at the top end, considering I have no experience. Why not start small, why not outer suburbia? While I might not exactly be sharing the passion, it would be a bloody good start towards it if I could make it work. I wouldnt call that disillusioned.

    If no one tried in the first place, there wouldnt be any coffee shops.

    Im one of coffees biggest fans, I love to drink it and I talk about it all the time. I wake up at 5am every morning, even on my weekend when I should be sleeping in, excited to get out of bed and see how good a machiatto I can make myself, consume and enjoy. Passionate, I am. Making coffee for Mr General Public may be a different story, Im not to know until I try. It does sounds like a wise idea to find some work as a barista and give it a shot, learn what I can. I may well not like it and walk away. My ambitions include success and recognition, not measured in dollars. If I give it my best and know that Ive done all that I can possibly can, failure would not bring recognition but I would still consider it a success, without trying, Ive already failed.

    So the smart plan forward sounds like getting another IT job to support myself while doing as much research as possible, formulating a business plan, getting some commercial barista experience and then, only then, start getting serious about it if I still wanted to go ahead with it all.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    790

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    i like your plan scott.
    i too allow myself the fantasy of operating a cafe or hole in the wall or whatever. i have a young family and that is one major factor for me that holds me back - and the fact that often fantasies like this (similar to the 4 year olds fantasy of one day going on a plane) often become mundane, or even difficult realities (HAVING to air travel for work). plus the fatc that ive just finished 8 years of uni to pursure a career in a very different industry - one which i love but doesnt make it to fantasy land for me.

    i have to add though, that working behind a 2 or 3 or 4 group machine for a few months may not give you much more knowledge other than how to brew some (hopefully good) coffee. there may not be time or opportunity to see what happens around you to provide a decent sense of what it takes to manage a cafe. thats definitely been my experience - although i work in an espresso bar/showroom not a full fledged cafe, which perhaps impacts upon this.

    dont know if any of this ramble has been of any use...

    aaron

  12. #12
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    10,496

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Well it does sound like the stars in your eyes arent clouding your judgement.
    Is that mixing meaphors?

    I dont know how easy it would be to pick up some experience in the real world of coffee while still supporting yourself fulltime in IT, but if you can find a way it will be good.

    Maybe a bit of volunteering on a weekend at a local cafe.
    Passionate coffee people are very nice.
    Maybe you can find a local one willing to help you.

  13. #13
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    759

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Hey Scott,

    Dont rule out buying a pre-existing business. Theres plenty of reasons people sell their businesses other than its not making money. Perhaps theyre chasing greener pastures too.

    Buying an existing cafe would already come with the fit out and kit, plus (hopefully) some regular customers. It might be a chance to make a good cafe, great.

    -ACog

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    194

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Like you Scott, I work in IT (hmmm i wonder how many of us here are in that boat?) and I too used to be passionate and love computers, and now have lost that passion.

    I am passionate about my coffee, and my food, and have been known to spend more time and effort than is considered sane, in order to get the best flavours I can.

    That said, despite nearly everyone I know telling me that I should be a chef, or perhaps a barista, the thought of ending up without the passion and zest i have for these things, simply because I am doing them out of necessity, not love, is enough to scare me away from it.

    That said, if you can keep the magic there, go for it. Passionate people make better providers of the things they are passionate about.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    711

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Whyatt link=1231388049/0#9 date=1231410090
    Im one of coffees biggest fans, I love to drink it and I talk about it all the time. I wake up at 5am every morning, even on my weekend when I should be sleeping in, excited to get out of bed and see how good a machiatto I can make myself, consume and enjoy. Passionate, I am. Making coffee for Mr General Public may be a different story, Im not to know until I try. It does sounds like a wise idea to find some work as a barista and give it a shot, learn what I can. I may well not like it and walk away.
    I love making my morning cup at work and I have my own machine at work and one at home. I very regularly pull double shots so I get to make a coffee for a colleague too and thoroughly enjoy the whole process though I always get comments like "thats a lot of effort for a cup of coffee.." I also volunteer at a cafe which sells coffee for slightly less than market price and Im on once a month for about 5 hours. Having a passion for good coffee and trying to share that with a largely ignorant public can be very frustrating (see the thread titled Barista Venting). There are weekends where I come back from that stint tired out and not wanting to have anything to do with coffee for the rest of the day. Long and short of this is, do give it a go in a cafe as an employee first to see what life behind the machine is like and you might see aspects of the job that you might not have thought of before.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    802

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Quote Originally Posted by ACog link=1231388049/0#12 date=1231415924
    Hey Scott,

    Dont rule out buying a pre-existing business. Theres plenty of reasons people sell their businesses other than its not making money. Perhaps theyre chasing greener pastures too.

    Buying an existing cafe would already come with the fit out and kit, plus (hopefully) some regular customers. It might be a chance to make a good cafe, great.

    -ACog
    Buying an existing hospitality business can have problems too. *If it is already successful then youre paying a premium price for a business with not much chance of increasing its turnover. *You need to find a business on its last legs, buy it cheap and build it up. *First though you need to spend time studying the business to see why its failing. *If you can work out what the problems are and how to fix them, then put a low bid in. *If the problem is something like bad position, that cant be fixed, then walk away.

  17. #17
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    2

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Hey Scott,

    I agree with ACog and with getting as much experience in a cafe as posible. I have been working two years in an espresso bar making coffee, and a mate of mine did a barista course. I can tell you seeing what they learnt, there is nothing better than working with along side experienced baristas. I have never done an offical course, but learning in the enviroment that you want to go into seems like the better option. Not to mention, then you can steal all their good ideas and make any mistakes by them.

    KK.

  18. #18
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    15

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Hi there Scott

    Welcome to CS. The hospitality industry is a vibrant, rewarding and is full of pitfalls.
    Well Chris you are going to be undertaking one of the biggest life changes yet! Above all that you need to do towards preparing to execute your business it is essential that you go and work in the style of business you wish to open - the best one that you can find that will give you a job. Not for just a few months but a at least 18 months to two years. I know this is a long time, but it will give you a deeper understanding of the many levels and facets involved in a café/espresso bar/ etc

    There are many points for doing this, the first is to find out if you love or hate it. Simple. Most people know within the first month or so.

    As you have no experience, the type of job that maybe open to you is a dishwasher or runner - staff that just clear tables, and as they become more experienced, they run food and beverages out. As time goes by, you work up the ladder until you are king of the espresso machine!

    Use any contacts that you have in gaining access to information, job prospects etc

    Many inexperienced people that have wonderful dreams of opening their own business in the hospitality industry end up going broke in the first year from lack of basic understanding of this industry.

    Yes a compressive business plan is essential, an air tight lease, the best position that is within your budget, etc but all this is nothing if you do not have any experience in working this arduous industry.

    I hope that I am making sence to you, and that I dont sound like a task master ( sorry if I do )

    A bit about my life in food and coffee! I have been around this industry since I was 12. I started washing dishes in fine dining restaurants( I just love food) I come from a family of foodies, my brother is one of the top chefs in Australia, I have worked in some of the busiest restaurants in Melbourne, as a waiter, barista, then a chef, then my husband and I set up and ran our busy seaside cafe for 8 years (had 19 staff) I was the only one who made the espresso (except for when I had a break…I had a laugh) and to now running a thriving coffee roasting house.

    Have you considered purchasing a going concern? Maybe another option for you as cash flow is already established, etc.

    When we had our last significant economic down turn in the early 90’s (the Recession we had to have….) “café” was born in Australia. Maybe it is now the age of the espresso bar?

    As we say at work when the heat is on “Diamonds are made under pressure”

    Enjoy the feed back you gain form all the CS as there is much great advice and help for you.

    Warm regards,

    Mahalia

  19. #19
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    1,946

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Hi Scott,

    I have not owned my own business, but have had the good fortune to work for a number of fantastic people in the coffee industry. *In general, regardless of success, cafe owners are all very, very hard working, approachable and appreciative of employees who understand that they are there to keep their business running. *As others have mentioned, Im sure that many cafe owners would be happy to give you some advice on running a business and would be happy to give you some work. *Even a day a week of work in a cafe would be really useful. I would just say this; if your objective is to learn about running a cafe, be a team player. *There are a lot of crappy jobs to be done in cafes and no one needs a wannabe superstar rockstar barista who wont pick up a mop or bleach cups. *If you go and talk to a few cafe owners and organise a time that suits them, Im sure that you will have some luck in finding out what you want to know. *You probably already know Corey from Epic, who made a career change a few years ago and has obviously been pretty successful.

    An interesting question is what separates successful cafe owners from unsuccessful ones, given that both put in heaps of work? *I can only guess, but I have observed that really good cafe owners seem to put heaps of work in the finding the site. *Im serious. *Were talking about people spending a few hours a week every year driving all over their city looking at potential sites to open up cafes. *I dont know how they know when theyre on to a winner, but Im pretty sure that it is simply obvious to most of them when they lay eyes on their site. *I have never actually asked how they know that the site is the one ... presumably it comes down to experience. *The best thing that you could possibly do would be to get some advice from experienced guys on your potential site. *Some guys have it down to such a fine art that their business really is finding sites, fitting them out really well and really quickly and selling the cafe at a profit. *Then the fit out is really important; it has to accommodate both the work flow and the needs of the customers. *Again, I think that its experience. *Sometimes you see cafes with absurd things like not enough room to keep their espresso grinder next to their machine ... pay attention!

    Regarding buying an existing business, Id be asking this question: given that the business owners have more experience than you do, how realistic is it to presume that you are going to do better?

    Cheers,

    Luca

  20. #20
    enjoy black coffee JamesM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Perth
    Posts
    672

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Scott, I like you! Especially your post on getting out of bed and whacking that EM6910 (I do the same).. Im also in Perth, we should meet for a coffee.

    I work in IT, and have done since I was in school (15 years ago)..

    I dont know your IT expertise but if you are looking for IT work I might be able to help. I work for the Health dept (yeah yeah, govn), but the job is steady, secure, and pays pretty well).. were always looking for technicians, system security officers, helpdesk plebs, etc.

    What about one of those road-side coffee drive-throughs? those places seem to kill the pig. The amount of old empty service stations around.... would be ideal :) no fit out required, drive in, get their coffee, drive out. PLUS you do not pay GST on dine-ins. (because they cannot dine-in)

    Im also going to do a few Barista courses... when you get up and running, Ill come and brew on weekends for you :)

    James

  21. #21
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    921

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    I decided to start my own business about 12 months ago and boy oh boy what a long road it has been. The old saying "it will take twice as long and cost twice as much" was pretty accurate. It is a hard slog and as a business owner it is hard work, because not only do you have to work in the business and stay away from your family you also have to work on the business in your "spare time". By that I mean working out how to do things better, faster, cheaper, introduce new ideas, let go of ones that dont work, keep an eye on trends, look out for the competition. And after you have done all that you must be all things to all people boss, friend, customer complaints, accountant (yes you do have to have an understanding of the numbers), cleaner and the list goes on. The hardest thing I have found is keeping all the balls in the air at the same time.

    Having said all that you must do your homework properly (taking at least some of the advice from this forum) and if you still want to do it. Make the decision and go, work your arse off and the worst thing that can happen is that you will learn a lot about yourself and what you are capable of. Good luck with your decision.

  22. #22
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    45

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    What great advice from all! Thank you so much, it really is appreciated. Im going to sit on this for a while, taking in everything everyone has said and do some further research.

    JamesM - Im basically a Solutions Architect but have a background in support, design, systems administration and big project rollout. Specific skill sets are Citrix/VMware/Commvault/Microsoft/Exchange etc. If you can find me something, that would be great. Im available on contract or full time, I have my own business so I can even do consulting so let me know :-)


  23. #23
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    1,339

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...


    Now see, I think thats funny (in a nice way). Start off thinking of opening a coffee biz and get a job offer in IT.

    Im sure youll keep thinking about it - I know I did. And at the end of the day I figured what the hell, the worst thing thing that can happen is that it will kill me. Then again, often to the frustration of those around me, I am a risk-taker.

    Perhaps you didnt want to verbalise them, nor do I ask you to, but "success and recognition" arent ambitions - theyre just airy, fairy words. If you havent already done so, work on these words and crystalise what they mean to YOU. You may be surprised with what you come up with.

    All the best!


  24. #24
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    229

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Whyatt link=1231388049/20#21 date=1231466137
    Im available on contract or full time, I have my own business so I can even do consulting so let me know :-)
    Scott,

    Im working on making some changes to how our IT support is handled in WA (Im in Sydney). Ill shoot you a PM - perhaps some consulting part time could help while you do your business investigations :)

    Grant

  25. #25
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    1,520

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    while ebaying i came across a listing of interest for those wanting to open a coffee shop in WA and thought of this thread :)

    heres a cheap (?) one for sale

    type this into the ebay search "Open Book Coffee House " and have a look.

    hope you find what your looking for Scott, tough call to go into business for your self, a lot harder than working for wages IMO but the benifits can be huge.....

  26. #26
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    7

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Wow, Scott.. you sound just like me.

    I am in a senior IT position, and getting very sick and tired of it all and looking to go my own way in some sort of business, and opening a cafe sprung to mind, alongside property development, window cleaning, AV installs.. you name it!

    On reason we are heading towards the cafe is that my Fiance worked in the Cafe industry for over 5 years and has a Diploma in Hospitality Management and is also interested in opening a cafe together as she really enjoyed working in one - Yes lots of long hard hours, but good fun none the less.

    We would be looking to buy an existing business that has some value add to it, and hopefully be able to improve, this way we can still have cash flow, profits so we get paid and an existing customer base.

    I think in this current economic climate, there might be some real bargains to be had in the small business industry, so use this time to do some research, get some experience and see if it really is something you want to do!

  27. #27
    A_M
    A_M is offline
    Guest
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    6,381

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    What is it with IT people (Self included) that have this affiliation with coffee :D

    I too have been looking but as I am in a secure Gov position and still have my daughter to get through schooling... The current state of the econ and risk management says - Wait a while longer...

    Trust it all works out and keep us informed..

  28. #28
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    569

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Quote Originally Posted by 4F60696B7C436F606F696B636B607A0E0 link=1231388049/26#26 date=1231990538
    What is it with IT people (Self included) that have this affiliation with coffee *:D

    I too have been looking but as I am in a secure Gov position and still have my daughter to get through schooling... *The current state of the econ and risk management says - Wait a while longer...

    Trust it all works out and keep us informed.. *
    IT sucks, Coffee is great

  29. #29
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    7

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Quote Originally Posted by 012E2725320D212E2127252D252E34400 link=1231388049/26#26 date=1231990538
    What is it with IT people (Self included) that have this affiliation with coffee *:D

    I too have been looking but as I am in a secure Gov position and still have my daughter to get through schooling... *The current state of the econ and risk management says - Wait a while longer...

    Trust it all works out and keep us informed.. *
    We stare at screens all day and need something to stimulate other senses.. :)

  30. #30
    A_M
    A_M is offline
    Guest
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    6,381

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Quote Originally Posted by 41666D5C50030 link=1231388049/27#27 date=1231991227
    Quote Originally Posted by 4F60696B7C436F606F696B636B607A0E0 link=1231388049/26#26 date=1231990538
    What is it with IT people (Self included) that have this affiliation with coffee *:D

    I too have been looking but as I am in a secure Gov position and still have my daughter to get through schooling... *The current state of the econ and risk management says - Wait a while longer...

    Trust it all works out and keep us informed.. *
    IT sucks, Coffee is great
    No the issue is that the Acronym is miss- interpreted... The SH in front is silent...

  31. #31
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    229

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Its easy to get disillusioned in IT... the same people who dont want to spend money are the ones who want a reliable, secure high performing system - and the first to scream if it fails.

    The people you report to generally dont understand the concepts behind what you do, or why you cant design webpages *and* configure your WAN *and* design an IP telephony solution *and* support multiple sites, servers and users... :-/

    Grant

  32. #32
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    10,496

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Quote Originally Posted by 4C5843444D4F754E5D4F46464F582A0 link=1231388049/30#30 date=1231992216
    Its easy to get disillusioned in IT... the same people who dont want to spend money are the ones who want a reliable, secure high performing system - and the first to scream if it fails.
    Im in QA; I understand.
    They dont understand that to save money they have to spend money.

  33. #33
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    759

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Quote Originally Posted by 52465D5A53516B50435158585146340 link=1231388049/30#30 date=1231992216
    The people you report to generally dont understand the concepts behind what you do, or why you cant design webpages *and* configure your WAN *and* design an IP telephony solution *and* support multiple sites, servers and users... Undecided
    I always give the analogy of a mechanic. You wouldnt expect them to regass your air conditioning or detail the car, but you would expect them to do an oil change, or general tune up.

    Just cuz your good at computers doesnt mean youre a jack of all trades.

  34. #34
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    116

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Quote Originally Posted by 1B343D3F28173B343B3D3F373F342E5A0 link=1231388049/26#26 date=1231990538
    What is it with IT people (Self included) that have this affiliation with coffee :D
    IT is rife with undiagnosed CoffeeSnobs!

    At a previous role I was dubbed the Security Barista as I was both a Security Engineer and the one to run to for a great coffee from the little Gaggia we had in the office *:D *I really should get around to having that printed on a business card one of these days!

  35. #35
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    1,077

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Its easy to get disillusioned in IT... the same people who dont want to spend money are the ones who want a reliable, secure high performing system - and the first to scream if it fails.

    The people you report to generally dont understand the concepts behind what you do, or why you cant design webpages *and* configure your WAN *and* design an IP telephony solution *and* support multiple sites, servers and users... *

    Grant
    How true this is, in a half yearly review of my budget i managed to keep it on track even though costs have increased and communications have grown only to find the financial controller and the MD slash the budget but 150K on their own with no consultation.

    If only we could do without upper management and especially those who micro manage >:(

    Mal

  36. #36
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    6

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    i am also a former IT guy with cisco certs in 2000 and started making websites in 1997.

    i hate IT.

  37. #37
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    1,077

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    IT isnt that bad, its just difficult to balance end user needs against their manager/directors who have interests in bottom line spend and not necessarily staff expectations.

    I tend to not worry too much about the business unit politics and just make do with the money and resources allocated to me. I am in charge of IT for a $60M company but dont get final say on budgets and the like, very weird, all the responsibility but no authority.

    If at the end of the day it goes pear shaped i can just point to all the deficiencies if have documented but have been rejected by management.

    IT is a very strange place given it means different things to different people and yes surely its simple because you buy it from "Hardly Norman" and plug it in and it works, yeah right.

    Time for a decaf.
    Mal

  38. #38
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    6

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    M$ lays off 5000.......
    hmmm.....
    maybe a tad too much deployment of licenses?
    i own 3x xp pro licenses right now that are not in use.

    i wonder how many of these OS licenses are written off by biz every year.

    Coffee consumption is increasing as the crisis escalates.
    The nexus between IT and coffee so often remarked upon may only be an accident of location with Seattle as the hub?

    NOT.

    There are fascinating correspondences to economics, politics and even revolution, intimately connected to coffee.
    A commodity seemingly as inflammatory and influential as Petroleum.

  39. #39
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    163

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Coffeesnobs you guys are really great. Heaps of great advice.

    To all that want to open a cafe in this economic climate.... DONT!!!
    You would be stupid. There are no great bargins for first cafe owners. Could be great for experience cafe owners and only experience cafe owners will be approached with these good deals. A mistake now would cost you 5 to 8 years of your wealth. I have seen a cafe owner losing around $400000 in 3 months. Cafes all over Australia are closing down. Cafes in shopping centres are disappearing at a rapid rate. Retail is dying and food is dying.
    Right now "CASH IS KING!!!!" If you have cash, save it and invest it. Invest well now and your money with triple in 3-5 years. Invest now in a cafe... Youre money has a risk of disappearing or just maintaining a break even point.

    Exstatic...... Opening a cafe with your fiance sounds like a hard way to start off future marriage!! Youre putting all your eggs in one basket sounds risky. Experienced cafe owners are struggling, how are you guys going to make it work.

    Scott you comments are typical of a person from a corporate background. Set up the business and then hire good staff to run the cafe. That doesnt work. If you think running a cafe is like this, you have already failed!!! Bad attitude and sorry to be soooo harsh. The cafe business starts with you and ends with you. Dont believe you can hire a manager to solve your problems. You as a cafe owner are the toilet cleaner, customer service manager, accountant, bouncer, politician, sports man, team captain, asshole, police man, part time father and part time husband. When you think it gets bad, it has the potential to get worst. In the corporate world or even working in big hospitality companies, you have a problem you can call someone to fix it. Call security to kick someone out for example. But when you have someone violent in you shop causing trouble it is up to you to deal with it. Your attitude needs to be prepared for situations like this.

    I would hate to see a simple dream turn into a nightmare. Right now hold off any dreams. The cafe and restaurant industry is taking a dive. Fine dining is gone and struggling. Equipment to set up a cafe has all gone up because of the drop of the aussie dollar. I havent seen the cafe scene so bad.

    Dreams are great, but responsibility to your future family and partner seems more important right now.

    I really hope you make the only right decision.

    Andrew

  40. #40
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    361

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Have to agree that starting a cafe now is not a great idea unless you know what you are doing, have an excellent business plan and understand your market extremely well. it would also help if you have deep pockets, as you may need them to get through some tight times, but could also be a good opportunity for acquiring businesses going bust if you can afford to run them very lean until the market picks up. The only way you will be able to have a cafe without working in it yourself, is if someone who owns a big percentage of it works there. cafes really need to owners touch. I might also add, this applies to pubs as well, and I was smart enough to get out of my holdings in one early last year. The whole thing is up for sale now, but I cant see a buyer being interested any time soon. Figure that would be the same for most businesses for sale at teh moment, as people just dont have the same access to funds through their house now.

    Anyway, Id be off to vietnam/cambodia/brazil with my money right now if I wasnt studying/getting married/building a house/freaking out etc.

  41. #41
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    162

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Hi Scott,

    I understand and appreciate your love of coffee, not sure that I would want pull shots for 12 hours a day, but thats just me.

    I agree with many of the posts, long hours with little financial rewards doesnt sound like my idea of fun. Just a little left field but if you have a passion for coffee why not look at a business that is not already satuarated in the market, I mean do we really need another coffee shop?
    Why not consider another area of the coffee business such as importing beans, roasting or even selling coffee making equipment. Think about it, how many quality coffee machine vendors are there in Perth, I am sure that there are a couple but then look at the number of coffee shops around!

    Perhaps you should consider other options rather than just pulling shots for joe public!

    Chris

  42. #42
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    163

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    People encouraging newbies to open cafes or paying someone for advice on cafes is something Im not a fan on. When you could potentially loose your house or partner over the cafe, usually that person that you paid for advice or that person that gave you encouragement, is not around to clean up the mess.

  43. #43
    Senior Member askthecoffeeguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Preston, victoria, 3072
    Posts
    817

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Hey Scott Ive owned cafes for six years now and managed cafes / bars and restaurants for a lot longer than that - heres a few pointers for you:

    Low entry and low set-up costs / more money spent is not necessarily better money spent youre better of paying for renos out of the takings if and when you can afford to do so

    Location is everything, preferably next to some existing amenity such as train station, school, or busy park - in any event a place with lots of foot traffic and plenty of parking

    Room to expand is a good thing such as a rear courtyard or sidewalk trading

    If you fork out for an existing business you will probably do so at twice the set-up cost of doing it yourself, IMHO youre better off staying clear of other peoples mistakes

    Stay away from shopping strips and busy commercial areas, better to be located around the corner and set yourself up as a *destination cafe rather than try and compete with the multitudes

    Employ staff who are better than you at what you do (easy said I know when youre starting out) and look for a long term commitment with ongoing training for all

    Figure out which segments of the market place are not being adequately catered for and then aggressively target those segments

    Invest in state of the art equipment if you can, the best coffee machines / cash registers, and grinders that you can afford (pm if you want some recommendations) - it will make you and your staffs lives easier

    At the end of the day its all abut bums on seats - youve got to be able to (comfortably) squeeze them in, and turn them over, in a timely fashion, so allocate as much space to seating as possible

    Make a feature of the outdoor seating - the climate is great in WA so use it to your advantage

    And, perhaps most importantly, write yourself a comprehensive business plan, with as much detail, including graphics and comprehensive costings
    as possible: you need to know how many coffees you need to make per hour and how many food and beverage items you need to sell at what price to break even, and to excel

    Set realistic goals and financial targets for yourself and for your staff and explain to your staff why you need to make x amount per day to pay wages etc, and why its important to remember this when up-selling

    (NB - I HATE the term up-selling but it has its uses, maybe think instead in terms of guided sales and practical recommendations such as can I get you a .......... to go with your lunch?)

    Start small with a budget you can afford, leaving a solid chunk of finance for back-up to see you through your rainy days

    Be prepared to go months without a personal pay cheque if thats what it takes to keep creditors happy and to get the job down

    Focus on the notion of the franchise prototype i.e. set the business up as if you plan to roll out 100 other business just like it, without the need for you to be there to supervise everything, with comprehensive training notes, day to day running sheets, open and close procedures, cashier manual, occupational health and safety requirements, service flow charts etc

    If any of the above is unclear make it a priority to find out what is needed to get a successful business up and running BEFORE you start

    And finally, talk to folks who are already well established and successful in their field, as opposed to those who may be struggling or still starting out - when I opened my first business I had *a business coach (a friend in an unrelated field who is very successful in his own endeavour), and two industry mentors - and this help proved to be invaluable in becoming established and pushing through the hurdles of getting a first cafe venture off the ground

    Hope this helps :)

    Pat




  44. #44
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    48

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Excellent post Pat and very solid advice. The franchise idea is one that most people dont get or dont know, and while it is a significant investment in time, it will pay huge dividends in the short and long term. And, who knows, maybe it will be so good it does turn out to be a franchising opportunity! ;)

  45. #45
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    10

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    The best piece of advice i can give you is move to Melbourne and get a job in the extremely competitive espresso market over here:)
    but if you would like a bit of personable advice on doin the gig from perth i am back in perth in a few weeks and we can catch up for a coffee or two from the 3rd of march through to the 10th. Hit me at krismwood@iinet.net.au

  46. #46
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    45

    Re: Thinking of starting a coffee business...

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Extremely helpful Pat - best advice Ive had yet!

    Thank you for taking the time out to share your wisdom in a factual, objective and un-opinionated manner :-)



Similar Threads

  1. E98 Faema coffee machine thinking of buying
    By kel10 in forum Brewing Equipment - Pointy End ($1500-$3000)
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 4th June 2010, 11:21 PM
  2. Starting up Business with a 2kg Roaster?
    By thegoodies in forum Roasters
    Replies: 97
    Last Post: 2nd June 2010, 10:32 AM
  3. Starting own Coffee van business
    By gretellen in forum General Coffee Related...
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 25th September 2009, 07:14 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •