Startup tips

Startup Tips for Budding Baristas

It’s time to make the coffee. You’ve got coffee in your blood. Also, you should probably see a doctor about that. But it doesn’t matter because coffee is your passion. And the thought of all those people lining up at that popular national chain every morning just makes you ill. It’s time for you to make your own mark, er… coffee stain on the world.

But as you will soon learn, there is a big difference between loving coffee and working it as a business. There are a number of things to consider that may not apply to other businesses, at least not to the same extent. Here are a few things you might want to spend a little extra time considering:

Style and Substance

In the neverending battle of form over function, neither wins, especially in a coffee bar. The specialized equipment you need is expensive and precise. It has to have the highest build quality.

But it also has to have the right look to fit the environment. You don’t put something on the bar that looks like the coffee maker you have a home, not when you are charging upwards of $5 for that cup of coffee. You have worked hard to create the illusion of an Italian bistro. You have to realize that your equipment is part of the decor.

A good example of what I mean can be found at It is not just about the brands, quality, performance, and warranty. It is also about the size, color options, grips, and sound.

There are certain words your customers will have in mind even if you do not promote them. They will think of such words as:

  • Artisinal
  • Authentic
  • Hand-made
  • Craft
  • Old-world
  • Charm
  • Fresh
  • Ambiance

The equipment you use can give these words full expression in their mind. But a poor choice of equipment can also break the illusion. Don’t make the mistake of choosing function over form. In this business, style matters.

Free Wifi

These days, coffee is a secondary reason why people go to coffee shops. They have become places for groups to meet, and sometimes eat lunch when available. But what people really love to do is be seen with their shiny new Apple products surfing the web, working, and doing homework.

Those things are made possible by free and ubiquitous connectivity to the internet. Free wifi is an even more important word than artisanal. Just be aware that there are many who will take advantage of the situation in creative and expensive ways.

There have been more than a few sightings of iMacs in inappropriate places. Some people think that one americano will buy them office space all day at your cafe. Some are happy to take up two tables and 4 to 8 seats in the name of their office space.

There will always be those people who do not have reliable internet access at home. So they will use your cafe to catch up on the latest season of Game of Thrones, weighing down your network so that it becomes unusable for other patrons.

You have to provide a solid, but limited connection that provides speed, security, and family filters that keep your cafe an appropriate environment for people of all ages. Free wifi has to be metered by common sense and best business practices.

The Finance Guy

Every business has a finance guy, even if that guy happens to be a female. It is the person who is always more concerned about the bottom line than about your creative vision.

One of the small business problems to avoid at a coffee shop is giving the finance guy too much say. Yes, you can use cheaper cups, less expensive furnishings, and more prepackaged product. But these are the sorts of things that will kill a coffee shop.

The finance guy is why the restaurant down the street won’t buy new plates, instead, sticking with the ones that are chipped and cracked. Do that to your coffee shop, and you will be out of business before you know it.

At a coffee shop, style is just as important as substance. Good internet access is as important as great coffee. And going cheap will close you faster than the health inspector.