I want to open a proper café in North Texas - Page 2

Talk about your favorite cafes, local barista events, or plan your own get-together.
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#11: Post by CaptPat »

What kind of Plan B? Do you mean catering a coffee shop to the locale or further than coffee?

Plan B is what you do when the coffee shop fails to become a profit-making enterprise.
Duct tape can't fix stupid but it can muffle the sound.

EspressoShawn (original poster)
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#12: Post by EspressoShawn (original poster) »

I might have picked up a used E65S GbW :D
I'll admit I'm slightly disappointed with where I got it from, a lot of screws are a little stripped, some more than others. I've had weird times where the GbW is spot on and then others where it seems off, I think it just has to settle after grind settings have been adjusted to be accurate. I also think it might be very subtly off balance. All around, it seems amazing, but I'm not sure if it was a good purchase used.

I went through a ton of beans practicing, but they may have aged too much, I kept getting really bad pulls. I also swapped screens and ended up swapping back and fourth with bad pulls still. It's very frustrating because I had a few really good pulls off and on 1-2 days ago. I'm not sure if it's my machine either, I've never really liked the lack of pre-infusion, or vibration pump in what I have at home. I've also had to fix a few things on it, hasn't been a particularly great machine.

I found a rotary pump machine with flow control for sale at a good price, I might go see that in a month or so if it's still available. It's a group one, but it would be more than enough for a cart if I decide to start with that route instead of dive right into a shop. I did pick up a Puqpress as well, am waiting on parts so I can use my 53mm baskets with it. I'll swap back to 58mm when I get a proper machine.

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#13: Post by dparrish »

As an avid home espresso enthusiast and a resident of the North Texas area, in my humble opnion being "trendy" and having a setting with good "vibe" are all important, but ultimately meaningless if you can't offer a superior coffee tasting experience. That goes from the bean selection, to roasting, pulling shots, and attention to details such as latte art (for presentation). There's PLENTY of shops offering sugar-drenched coffee "drinks". What is still in short supply here (there are a few places, but I mean a FEW) are places which emphasize the COFFEE end of the experience. I wish you luck. While I am content most days to make wonderful espresso on my home setup, I do love visiting local shops for GOOD coffee and a change of scenery.

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#14: Post by EspressoShawn (original poster) replying to dparrish »

That's what I'm going for! I'm offering a tasting to anyone willing from my home, last weekend it was appliance install techs who took the offer. I felt mediocre about the pulls, but it was exceptionally well received and hearing them say it was very sweet for having no sugar was nice.

I'll admit I have frequent reservations about efforts, but I keep reminding myself there's a gap in the local market for quality coffee and many have no idea such good tasting coffee exists. I'm just hoping there's enough of a market for coffee that isn't over-saturated with sugar. Sugar is addictive in it's own right and I hope I can compete without relying on it. I'm now beyond halfway through Colin Harmon's book, expecting to finish it this weekend. It has a lot of good advice, some of which applies outside of coffee.

I am making progress, in the past 30 days I've:
- Picked up a used E65S GbW, deep cleaned it, reseated the burrs, and recalibrated it.
- Started a single origin subscription from my favorite roaster (long ago I had a quote for wholesale, it's still expensive, but worth it IMO). Went through all 2lbs in about 2-3 days and ordered more. Even my first poor pull reminded me how much I miss "good coffee", was reinvigorating!
- Tore apart my home machine multiple times. Tried patching a temp issue with a pull down resistor, which worked perfect for about two weeks... Eventually ordered a new part, which properly fixed it. Had a few mishaps along the way, but it's been a good learning experience.
- Did multiple deep descales and fixed a clog in the flow meter.
- Readjusted my water params to be "perfect" (I already was using R/O water, but wasn't softened properly).
- Started looking at things like CRE loans and SBA programs. Decided against CRE and still need to look into SBA options.
- Had my wife help contact property owners about available leases. Not finding anything very suitable yet, came across advice in Colin's book to hire an agent, may end up exploring that option in the future.
- Started looking at water systems and more equipment needed.
- Been making at least six cups a day for practice, looking to get that number up. I don't normally use do much milk or beans, so those have been limiting factors.
- Recalibrated my machine's temps with a thermal camera, calibrated the pump pressure (was a bit low previously).
- Picked up Colin Harmon's book and over halfway through.
- Finally picked up a proper tamp to replace a heavily tattered aluminum tamp I've been using, it's such a huge improvement. Also got a distribution tool.
- Tore apart my Puqpress to replace the clamp and tamp size, because my home machine is 53mm, still waiting on the upper clamp :roll:
- Told every neighbor I've seen to stop by for coffee 8)
- Been told to stop making coffee a few nights by my wife... (She's been very supportive and excited to help otherwise)
- Decided the best route may be to start with a weekend cart until I get things moving and/or find a suitable lease. Colin's book has helped curb me wrecking my head over thinking about a drive-through, ultimately it's too costly and a bit beyond my experience (especially considering it may likely require financing and major construction).
- Realized I will need to hire one person to help me when/before/as I start, as much as I thought I can operate a cart alone it may be horrible to attempt to do so.
- Started thinking about more creative ways I might be able to make things work when starting out.

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#15: Post by ira »

And as much as I hate to bring this up, before you get to much further, go have a talk with whatever city departments you're going to have to get approval from before you start serving food. Sometimes that hurdle can be 10 times higher than all the rest.

EspressoShawn (original poster)
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#16: Post by EspressoShawn (original poster) »

Good point! I did a quick search and found some substantial differences from how other states/counties I've lived in operate, in regards to licenses and permits. Thank you for the reminder!

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#17: Post by jackson6 »

I wish you the best of luck in opening a shop. There is a really good podcast that cover a lot of this called "keys to the shop". https://keystotheshop.com/all-podcasts/

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#18: Post by Tony d »

I was going to recommend that podcast as well.

I'm just a roaster so no specific shop advice but I would advise you to be flexible. When I started my roasting biz I had grand ideas of blowing peoples minds with coffee that I consider great and was under represented in my community I quickly realized that most people in my community did not care or want what I had ( My idea of great coffee and theirs did not align)

I think as coffee enthusiasts it's easy for us to think ' boy just wait until they taste this' and in reality most people are pretty comfortable with what we view as lesser. Also, the sugar addiction is real.

Idk, I've only been in business for a few years at this point and verdict is still out of I'll be able to make it with any longevity so take it with a grain of salt, these are just some observations in my own experiences in coffee.

Good luck!! I truly wish anyone trying to fulfill their dream the best and have zero regrets myself.

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#19: Post by MNate »

Not a business owner but I think coffee is something that could be eased into with less risk. There have been some great examples of this on HB or that I've seen in person:
-coffee cart (farmers market, business or tourist area in the morning, weddings and events)
-drive-through-only stalls like they have in some parts of the country
-lobby-kiosk: getting an existing business to sub-lease a small space for your kiosk, office building lobbies may love to have their space be more lively to attract more tenants-there is a great one near my house- or even boutique hotels may like this.

In each of these staffing could be quite minimal, even just you if you have the liberty to just be open when you want to. I just can't imagine doing staffing...

EspressoShawn (original poster)
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#20: Post by EspressoShawn (original poster) »

Thanks for sharing the podcast, there's a lot of episodes so I'll have to listen to a few and put together a playlist.

For the coffee cart suggestion, I have an old cart in storage that I plan on using, hopefully soon! Much of my hesitation has been cart transportation and previously finding a commissary to use. I'm getting a new vehicle with a tow hitch, so that'll solve one of my issues. Also, I've been looking for drive through spaces but nothing comes up on any lease listings. I did finish Colin Harmon's book, which was very helpful overall, it definitely helped give clarity on how I want to approach this.