Quora Questions: Are you Dreaming of a Coffee Shop Business?

By | December 30, 2014

Many people dream of starting their own coffee shop. I do, too. But it’s a hard road to travel. Being an entrepreneur in my own field, I’ve worked in restaurants and customer facing jobs for years. I thought I’d chime in on Quora with my own answers.

Assuming that you know about coffee basics (how to grind, make coffee, do espresso, etc..) I’d say two to three years to learn all the management skills needed. Of course, you won’t learn much as a part-timer… but try get a job there and take all the training you can get.

Of course, if you intend to start really small, then why bother? Just get started with a simple menu, simple drinks, and learn by doing it yourself. Starbucks does a good job at running a coffee shop, that’s not saying they are the best. In fact, you could fly several Airbuses through the openings in the market that SB doesn’t cater to: regional coffees (a coffee of the day? huh!), better quality food & cakes, specialty coffees…

Many people dream of running their own coffee shop, but the casualty rate of new restaurant/food type businesses is very high. Restaurant Failure Rates Recounted: Where Do They Get Those Numbers?

After the first year 27% of restaurant startups failed; after three years, 50% of those restaurants were no longer in business; and after five years 60% had gone south. At the end of 10 years, 70% of the restaurants that had opened for business a decade before had failed.

The usual reasons are obvious: but where I live, I often see the biggest threat to a new business – running out of money before you’ve got enough customers coming through the door. In the tech industry, it’s called the burn rate. The business runs out of cash before it starts to make itself viable. That’s not to say a particular business couldn’t be viable… they just run out of time/money.

So, if you’ve ever had any entrepreneurial experience, you’ll know that cashflow management is vital, esp. in the first couple of years. You’ll also need to keep a handle on your start up costs: Starting a Coffee Shop? Consider your location, your money, and your coffee!

You should also consider your location, your selling proposition (what makes you different from the other businesses in the neighborhood), and how you plan to market yourself to new customers.

In practical terms, this means looking for places with good foot traffic, where there is an actual cooked food and beverage market already (near offices, universities, big hospitals, etc.); what makes you different (do you plan to serve quality coffee/roast your own/make great cakes/etc…?); and how are you going to get yourself in customers’ faces (literally & metaphorically) – ie. advertising, events, marketing, tastings, etc?

I hope this helps.


If you’re into starting a coffee shop, you’ll find some great coffee shop questions on Quora:

There are lots of other posts and questions on Quora about these issues! Take a look.