Is Starting a Cafe Right for You?
Starting a cafe has much appeal. Picture yourself as the proprietor of a successful coffee shop and think of the benefits:
- freedom to make your own decisions
- financial independence
- respect in the local community
- from your family and staff
- the satisfaction of providing a valued product to your customers
- a social environment that brings people together
- and all the coffee you can drink!
Just smell that fresh coffee brewing! What could be better?
Let’s add a shot of reality to that idealized image for a more grounded perspective:
- 14-hour days, 6 or 7 days a week
- smell the unrelenting pungent scent of stale coffee on your clothing, skin, and in your hair
- feel that painful steam wand burn on your index finger
- see yourself driving to your shop at 5:30a on a dark and cold Saturday morning when an employee calls in sick (again)
- imagine pacifying picky customers who insist a macchiato includes caramel, “like Starbucks.”
Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?
Budding cafe owners expect that something better awaits in a coffee shop. Expectations may not match reality, whether seeking a better lifestyle or job satisfaction. Running a coffee shop is demanding and rarely lucrative. Take inventory of the benefits and drawbacks of retail business ownership before making a profound life change.
Immerse yourself into the industry to understand it better before you leap.
- Interact with coffee shop owners in neighboring cities
- Join the Specialty Coffee Association and attend the next annual SCA Event
- Visit websites like Sprudge.com
- Follow coffee specialty coffee groups on social media
- Read coffee trade magazines like Roast, Barista, and Fresh Cup.
You will find many resources available that are free or inexpensive to give you a realistic vision of retail ownership.
Before committing to a new reality, make sure you base your decision on facts, not expectations. Accept that there is a difference between what happens and what you want to happen.
Every garage band from Seattle in the 90’s had the dream of a rock star lifestyle. A disciplined few practiced instruments the countless hours each day necessary to be good musicians. The small number that became famous is practicing each day today. That’s the authentic rock star lifestyle, so you had better enjoy it. Starting a cafe is different from being a customer!