I want to open a proper café in North Texas

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

Many years back, I reached out to my favorite roaster that I discovered through frequenting every coffee shop I could find on the West Coast and got to play with one of their Slayers paired with a Mahlkönig PEAK. I got to brew some really serious cups and thought I'd get into the coffee business after getting my feet wet, unfortunately nothing came out of it and I had to return to an office job. Eventually, I moved to Texas and moved on with remnants sitting in storage and an itch for "amazing local coffee" that I never could scratch. I found one café that had "good" coffee, but that was ruined after they sold, rebranded, stop making good coffee, and closed.

My itch has come back full force, I've spent a few weekends cleaning/repairing/calibrating my home machine, had a handful of new parts replaced, got some new equipment, and returned to buying some of my favorite single-origin beans. I'm pulling shots and pouring lattes that taste awesome, I had forgotten how great "good" coffee is! I think the right shop could fill a gap.

Now, I'm looking to plan and ramp up a café in North Texas. Anyone interested? Tips? Must-haves? Pitfalls to avoid? References? Anything that might steer me towards success?

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baldheadracing
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#2: Post by baldheadracing »

-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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bostonbuzz
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#3: Post by bostonbuzz »

There is too much to write. Once it's up and running most of your time will come down to staffing and training. Staff turnover is very high for this type of work. Coffee quality is a persistent issue. Choose not the latest and greatest necessarily, but the most reliable gear that can turn out great coffee. (i.e. we switched to mahlkonig peak grinders, all of which consistently failed to keep up with demand - turned out this is a known issue but was not apparent to us even though the grinder came out a few years earlier).

If you can make the space trendy and have a culture around it then you will have young people begging to work there and good clientele. That worked for the last place I was involved in which thrived during COVID when 50% of other cafes failed in the city.
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EspressoShawn (original poster)
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#4: Post by EspressoShawn (original poster) »

baldheadracing wrote:Here is some info: Best books on a starting a retail cafe business
Thank you, this is great!
bostonbuzz wrote:There is too much to write. Once it's up and running most of your time will come down to staffing and training. Staff turnover is very high for this type of work. Coffee quality is a persistent issue. Choose not the latest and greatest necessarily, but the most reliable gear that can turn out great coffee. (i.e. we switched to mahlkonig peak grinders, all of which consistently failed to keep up with demand - turned out this is a known issue but was not apparent to us even though the grinder came out a few years earlier).

If you can make the space trendy and have a culture around it then you will have young people begging to work there and good clientele. That worked for the last place I was involved in which thrived during COVID when 50% of other cafes failed in the city.
Thanks for the tips! Do you have any suggestions on building culture?

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bostonbuzz
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#5: Post by bostonbuzz »

If you have a trendy space and good coffee and/or food you should have business if you keep things simple but do stuff like have latte art competitions, pop-up shops with local artists, treasure hunts on instagram about your merch placed around town - interesting things like that.

The place I helped start was picked up by some young activist-y folks who were not afraid to speak their minds politically. There is a trend in businesses where people get very tight lipped to avoid angering folks and losing some $ from offending people who would otherwise be customers. It's a safe thing to do to take no positions, but it was neat to see this couple go all out on pro LGBT, BLM, housing rights, etc. on their social media. They always have a lot of queer staff and that makes an inclusive and trendy environment that young folks want to hang out in - without any power outlets :wink: I think for everyone they alienated they gained x2 customers. Of course I'm talking coastal California here in a second/third tier city with pretty bland cafes otherwise. Not a suggestion to do any of these things but just an interesting note that maybe you can go a bit wilder than you think.
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Chert
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#6: Post by Chert »

It's like suggested by the post above, a problem of market research.

If you know there are people near you who want or will want your product and you have a business model to reasonably attract them while you ramp up, then keep planning.

I've shared coffee in public on occasion - for donation mostly to local boy's and girls club- so I have no profit or sustainability model.

Today I was in a nicely appointed cafe of a successful chain in Washington. I made the mistake of ordering a honey process single origin espresso, like I might pull for myself at home. I drank about half of it but it wasn't enjoyable and I walked out thinking "if I want to own a cafe I must be sure not to pull an espresso I can't imagine anyone wanting to drink." But being unable todo that doesn't stop them. There is much more sugar I think on their menu than ten years ago.

I hope some cafes have training and methods of extraction and control to avoid that, but I've been in so many that don't to make me very nervous about selling espresso again. And milk and milk subs is as much sweetener as I want to add to a drinks.

That's probably hardly worth two cents but there it is.
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CaptPat
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#7: Post by CaptPat »

Be mindful that your dreams may not align with the wants/needs of the locale, IOW have a Plan B in mind. Best of luck in this endeavor.
Duct tape can't fix stupid but it can muffle the sound.

EspressoShawn (original poster)
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#8: Post by EspressoShawn (original poster) replying to CaptPat »

I really appreciate all the suggestions, I'm looking at picking up a copy of "What I Know About Running Coffee Shops" and I found a decade old blog from Colin Harmon that seems relevant still.
What kind of Plan B? Do you mean catering a coffee shop to the locale or further than coffee?


I've been wondering if a drive-through is a must given most areas are not very walkable. I'm also wondering if I can succeed without a drive-through and whether a drive through is worth a potential 10x or greater cost.
I'm not in a rush and am exploring leasing options with a lot of hesitation. I haven't found anything in regards to small spaces for lease yet and I am under the impression larger spaces may need more a lot more than coffee to cover costs.

Glacier21
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#9: Post by Glacier21 »

Have you ever worked in a cafe or restaurant? If not, perhaps get a part time gig while you're doing your planning, and see how you like it. I worked in restaurants and then a small cafe in HS and college, enjoyed it, but ultimately decided I don't like dealing with the general public. Do your research and stuff, but keep dreaming and thinking big - make a place that will nurture the energy you thrive in because it will be your world for a few years at least.

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

Glacier21 wrote:Have you ever worked in a cafe or restaurant? If not, perhaps get a part time gig while you're doing your planning, and see how you like it.
Not in a café, but at a very fast paced "fast-casual" private (not franchised) restaurant chain and my wife was once a waitress as well. Although, I do get the impression the service industry is more demanding these days than many years ago. I fear hiring good staff, preventing bad managers, and petty staff issues far more than dealing with public. Probably in that order - would be a challenge to survive without good staff, a bad manager can do a lot of damage, and petty staff issues are a hassle but should be easy to fix if discovered early.