Starting a church cafe and need equipment recommendations

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
Rita Endres
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Postby Rita Endres » Jan 11, 2008, 10:50 am

I've been given the privilege of starting a coffee shop/cafe in our church of about 700 people. We'll have a 30-45 minute block between services where we'll offer coffee and I hope lattes, etc. I just simply do not know where to start. I've never used any equipment before other than my silly Mr. Coffee (hold your laugh please), but am willing to learn. I'd like to eventually rival the coffee shop in town, but until reading your site today did not even know what a barista was.

What would you recommend starting with equipment-wise? My boss loves good coffee and wants me to look at used-commercial equipment. I've found the articles on this site incredibly educational and love it. Any direction would be awesome as we'd kinda like to be up and running in an aggressive month.


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Postby timo888 » Jan 11, 2008, 11:04 am

How many of those 700 churchgoers would you expect to serve in the 30-45 minute block between services? This answer will determine how many groups the machine will need (and how many arms you will need). And what is your budget?


Rita Endres
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Postby Rita Endres » Jan 11, 2008, 11:15 am

I knew I should've added that, I just don't have good answers yet.

My guess would be 30-50? I really have no idea at this point. First service will have about 150-200 people who will be getting out, then the second service people will be coming in (300+ people). They won't be able to take drinks into the service though. It's just a hang time inbetween.

I'll need something that is relatively easy to use to start out with, but it has to be fast as well because of the short turnaround time. Some churches offer just regular or flavored coffee for free (which will probably be the bulk of the people) and if they want cappucinos or lattes, those are extra.

Budget has yet to be determined.


Matthew Brinski
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Postby Matthew Brinski » Jan 11, 2008, 11:54 am

There are a lot of knowledgeable people here who can offer you some sound advice. In your situation though, I would recommend calling someone like Chris at He offers an extensive line of equipment and can answer your questions without pressuring you to buy something right away. He will probably ask you a bunch of questions since it doesn't sound like you know where to start. There are so many factors involved in something like this like: Electrical supply, plumbing, is refrigeration needed, etc, etc. I think a call to him or other vendors that are recommended by this site can be very educational and allow you to understand what you realistically need for equipment and possibly training.

PS - This machine comes to mind when reading your intended service:

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Postby stefano65 » Jan 11, 2008, 12:05 pm

As usual the main suggestion
get a machine that your local repair company can fix easily and has parts in stock
any commercial 2 group machine will handle your load just make sure you can plumb it in.
Stefano Cremonesi
Stefano's Espresso Care
Repair & sales from Oregon.

Rita Endres
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Joined: Jan 11, 2008, 10:11 am

Postby Rita Endres » Jan 11, 2008, 12:22 pm

Sweet. Thanks everyone for your input. I'll see what happens with Chris and let you know if I have more Qs.


Rita Endres
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Joined: Jan 11, 2008, 10:11 am

Postby Rita Endres » Jan 11, 2008, 1:45 pm

I talked to Tanetta at She was very helpful and took her time with me. Very nice people to work with.


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Postby jamhat » Jan 11, 2008, 1:57 pm

Rita, it's great that you want to start a cafe (with quality coffee) at your church. I'm still trying to get my church to drop the nasty industrial grade coffee they like to serve. I am starting with small steps and serving premium coffee at our young adult gatherings. An espresso bar would be a welcomed next step!

As much as I love the authenticity of a semi-auto/auto machine (the kind that you grind the coffee yourself, load into the portafilter, dump it, etc), you may want to consider a super-auto machine that does it all for you. That way, anybody can actually pull a shot from it. It's just a matter of pressing the button. With that said, if you can be there or if you can train a few key volunteers to pull shots like a pro, go for the gusto and get something like that Nuova Simonelli that Matthew recommended. It will make much better espresso drinks.

I look forward to reading about your progress and also how that affects the atmosphere of your place of worship.

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Postby bogiesan » Jan 12, 2008, 11:49 am

30-40 minutes between services means one operator can serve about 15 lattes and that's only if they are trained and prepared for the slam. The location of the machine will make a huge difference. Can people queue up? Does the noise of the grinder and steamer intrude on the parish or someone's idea of sanctuary?

Why are you building the café? Revenue enhancement? Status? Competition with other churches for coffee snobs? The expense must be capitalized against cashflow. If you can crank out, say, 50 $5.00 drinks on a good day, you might net $150 after consumables. At $5 to 6,000 profit in a year, you will need one to three years to pay for a decent system. You will need at least four well-trained baristas and a service contract with a local supplier who will promise to make repairs on Saturdays in time for you to be open on Sundays.

I say forget it unless your coffee bar qualifies as a charity. A better solution will be to contact a local caterer with a portable espresso service. Let them drive up to the church and either operate out of their truck in a nice spot or roll in a cart to the social room area.

david boise ID

Rita Endres
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Postby Rita Endres » Jan 12, 2008, 2:31 pm

We are simply wanting a great atmosphere with a high level of excellence. As I'm sure you'll all agree, Folgers in the huge percolator "church pots" just doesn't cut it. I'm sure we won't make a lot of money at this. I'd like to break even eventually. The goal is not to outdo, but provide a great atmosphere for people to connect with the same service as the local coffee house--right in our church. Who knows, if I really become a pro, maybe I'll put them to shame! :wink:

Any tips on where I can get a used Nuova Simonelli Appia Single Group Automatic?

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