Roaster coffee bar, Lever-based?

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
User avatar
Almico
Posts: 1076
Joined: Feb 13, 2014, 6:47 am

Postby Almico » Mar 26, 2017, 9:52 pm

This is a little premature, but I've been contacted by the coordinator of a new local indoor farmers market requesting the services of my little roastery. Although it's going to be an upscale kind of establishment, they want to emphasize locally grown and produced raw as well as prepare foods.

This is a big deal for me on many levels. The market would be open 7am-7pm, 6 days a week in season and 5 days per week off season, although vendors only need to commit to being there 8 hours a day. Obviously, if I take the plunge, I'd be giving up the day job and going coffee full time. Oy! But I also won't have to be doing this anymore:

Image

Image

Image


I am pour over based now, but would have to add espresso to the menu. The dream is to be a traditional, lever-based, coffee centric "bar" and I don't want to serve carmel frappa hazel fudge whipped coffee candy. There's a Starbucks down the block for that.

They would be taking care of the build out of the 12' x 24' space and the seating and stuff would be provided in the common eating and hanging areas. I would have to supply the coffee equipment and already have a Fetco CBS-61H batch brewer, multiple Luxus pots, a couple of Zojirushi boilers, a Grindmaster 890 and 825 and a pour over station, but I would need to buy an espresso machine and the various accouterment. I have a K10 WBC, but would need a second espresso grinder. I also have my Fuji Royal R220 for the pour over bar.

Even though the venue is taking care of much, it would still represent a significant outlay on my part, not the least of which would be professional training and consultation services. This is a big upgrade from what I've been doing up till now. I'm open to any and all suggestions.

I started putting together the new business plan and gathering numbers. For the espresso machine, I contacted Roberta at Bosco to get pricing on a 3-group Sorrento and was pleasantly surprised that they were not as expensive as I had assumed. That's just awesome, but am I crazy for thinking of taking this step with a lever(s)?

Image

As much as I'd like to be a one-man show, this is a very busy tourist destination in the warmer months and the only other coffee spot is the Starbucks. It is quite possible I will get slammed and have to add a barista/manager to help out. The downside is that there are 20+ other vendors selling eats, and although no one else can sell coffee, I can't sell pastries or baked goods to help the revenue. My concentration will be on selling beans and home brewing coffee equipment to supplement coffee drinks.

If I go for it, there is a lot to be worked out, but I've been working 7 days a week for two years now doing the 9-5 and two weekend markets and have developed a very nice following. People seem to love my coffee and this past weekend I counted 5, "this is the best cup of coffee I've ever had". Although I'm feeling nervously overwhelmed at the moment, it also feels like this could be the next logical step in my coffee journey.

User avatar
HB
Admin
Posts: 16821
Joined: Apr 29, 2005, 9:13 pm

Postby HB » Mar 26, 2017, 10:03 pm

Almico wrote:That's just awesome, but am I crazy for thinking of taking this step with a lever(s)?

Hardly! Check out this routine by Dritan Alsela:



While you probably won't need it, levers also have the option of being heated by propane, reducing your reliance on power hookups/generators if you go mobile.
Dan Kehn

espresso artifacts for serious baristas
Sponsored by Decent Espresso - espresso artifacts for serious baristas
User avatar
Almico
Posts: 1076
Joined: Feb 13, 2014, 6:47 am

Postby Almico » Mar 26, 2017, 10:13 pm

HB wrote:Hardly! Check out this routine by Dritan Alsela:

While you probably won't need it, levers also have the option of being heated by propane, reducing your reliance on power hookups/generators if you go mobile.


He's my hero, Dan. There is much to be gleaned from that video. Like playing a musical instrument, it looks so effortless when a real pro makes it sing. What the video doesn't show is the obvious impeccable set up of the equipment.

I'm a very process-oriented person and a bit of an efficiency freak. Once I get the muscle memory honed, I'm sure I'll hold my own. But there might be a few scars along the way. I would love to find and pay someone to train me, but it seems commercial levers, like me, are a bit on the fringe.

User avatar
sweaner
Posts: 2216
Joined: Feb 17, 2008, 9:19 pm

Postby sweaner » Mar 26, 2017, 10:32 pm

I truly hope you do this...so I can come!

Where is this new Farmer's Market?
Scott
LMWDP #248

Man does not live by coffee alone...we need beer too.

User avatar
Almico
Posts: 1076
Joined: Feb 13, 2014, 6:47 am

Postby Almico » Mar 26, 2017, 10:40 pm

sweaner wrote:I truly hope you do this...so I can come!

Where is this new Farmer's Market?


It's in your wheelhouse, Scott. Stay tuned...

User avatar
TomC
Team HB
Posts: 7496
Joined: Jun 06, 2011, 1:46 pm

Postby TomC » Mar 26, 2017, 11:02 pm

Dristan is an absolute magician working a 4 and 5 group like he does. But have you convinced yourself you need a 3 group and couldn't get by with a 2 group? The reason I ask, is a 3 group pretty much marries you to 2 grinders to stay efficient, and one group (often the center) wont get used as much as the outer two, even when you have a second pair of hands on bar with you. But a 2 group will save you more money, be lighter to lift and move around, the boiler will drain faster when you're ready to pack up and leave for the day, will heat up a bit quicker, and one guy can (with a fair bit of practice) get very efficient pulling shots on both levers, with one grinder and steaming in the meantime.

The upside either way you go is at those prices, even if you didn't want to do it forever, you're probably going to get very close to what you paid, if you put the Bosco up for sale, so it's not like you're risking a ton of capital in the long run.

User avatar
HB
Admin
Posts: 16821
Joined: Apr 29, 2005, 9:13 pm

Postby HB » Mar 26, 2017, 11:06 pm

TomC wrote:But have you convinced yourself you need a 3 group and couldn't get by with a 2 group?

I agree! In most cases, the third group is only there as a backup when one of the other two is down for repairs/cleaning.
Dan Kehn

authentic European coffee equipment since 1977
Sponsored by 1st-line equipment - authentic European coffee equipment since 1977
User avatar
Almico
Posts: 1076
Joined: Feb 13, 2014, 6:47 am

Postby Almico » Mar 26, 2017, 11:30 pm

TomC wrote:Dristan is an absolute magician working a 4 and 5 group like he does. But have you convinced yourself you need a 3 group and couldn't get by with a 2 group? The reason I ask, is a 3 group pretty much marries you to 2 grinders to stay efficient, and one group (often the center) wont get used as much as the outer two, even when you have a second pair of hands on bar with you. But a 2 group will save you more money, be lighter to lift and move around, the boiler will drain faster when you're ready to pack up and leave for the day, will heat up a bit quicker, and one guy can (with a fair bit of practice) get very efficient pulling shots on both levers, with one grinder and steaming in the meantime.

The upside either way you go is at those prices, even if you didn't want to do it forever, you're probably going to get very close to what you paid, if you put the Bosco up for sale, so it's not like you're risking a ton of capital in the long run.


I think I have convinced myself I need at least 3. If anything, I'd go 4. In my mind, having one too many is better than having one too few. And the presence of all those levers is as much an advertising expense as it would be for making simultaneous espressos. There's something about 3-4 levers that just demands attention.

This machine is for a permanent installation and I will not be lifted it once it's set up...unless something goes really bad with the venue. Like you say, at that price, if I had to sell it, I wouldn't lose much. It would likely be like renting it for a few $100 bucks.

I think it's the boiler size I need as much as the additional group(s). There will likely be far more milk drinks than straight doubles. I might not need to do 150 drinks an hour for 8 hours (God forbid), but I might need to do 100+ in the busiest hour. And like in the video, when a group comes over from the swanky restaurant across the street and orders 5-6 cappuccinos, it would be nice to serve them all at once.

But this is all speculation at the moment. Many dominos needs to fall before I place an equipment order.

Alan Frew
Posts: 543
Joined: Mar 25, 2008, 6:34 am

Postby Alan Frew » Mar 27, 2017, 5:19 am

Your greatest joys and greatest despair will be your employees, all 12 to 14 of them. In a presumably busy market with the hours you've quoted you will be hammering out more coffees than you can imagine in less time than you can believe, particularly if there are no close competitors. One or two people working in close sync can cope for a day or two, but after that you're looking at regular breaks, rotating shifts, employee availability and local labour laws, plus an absolute crapload of salaries, taxes and accounting.

Oh, 2 x 2 groups are always better than 1 x 4 group, because when the machine breaks down at least the other one is still running. Usually on the busiest day of your year, just after your staff have decided they're overworked and underpaid and all quit.

Alan

User avatar
Almico
Posts: 1076
Joined: Feb 13, 2014, 6:47 am

Postby Almico » Mar 27, 2017, 9:34 am

Alan Frew wrote:Your greatest joys and greatest despair will be your employees, all 12 to 14 of them. In a presumably busy market with the hours you've quoted you will be hammering out more coffees than you can imagine in less time than you can believe, particularly if there are no close competitors. One or two people working in close sync can cope for a day or two, but after that you're looking at regular breaks, rotating shifts, employee availability and local labour laws, plus an absolute crapload of salaries, taxes and accounting.

Oh, 2 x 2 groups are always better than 1 x 4 group, because when the machine breaks down at least the other one is still running. Usually on the busiest day of your year, just after your staff have decided they're overworked and underpaid and all quit.

Alan


Ugh...! I don't do accounting! But I suppose I would need a good POS system, PT bookkeeper to close the month/quarters and a good accountant.

And I like the idea of 2x2 machines. If things go sideways, it would certainly be easier selling two 2 group Boscos than one 4 group.

But 12-14 employees is not in the cards for me. Firstly, the space is not really big enough for more than two at a time. Here's the current incarnation of the proposed layout:

Image

Second: I learned a secret during a past life career as a golf club fitter/maker. When I first started, I was just changing grips and doing minor adjustments and charging very reasonable rates for the service. But as word spread, I started to get busy...too busy. I could have added employees, but then it would not be me doing the work. Instead, I just raised my prices, and then raised them again. This had the affect of weeding out the customers that didn't appreciate the service as much as the ones that did. I found myself doing less work for more revenue.

Another thing I've learned is that a line of customers is not a bad thing...even to the point of losing a few for the moment. People want what they can't have. Just look at the frenzy over Monolith grinders every time orders open up. Sure, Dennis might lose a few sales, but his production is at maximum capacity and he has people clamoring over $2500 coffee grinders. What more could you want? He could add employees and crank them out, but then it wouldn't be him building them and the quality, and certainly the image he has created would suffer.

40 drinks an hour at $3.50 a drink for 8 hours a day and 6 days a week would generate $350K revenue for just coffee drinks. My current business model and SOPs generate 35% from drink sales and 65% from bags of beans. Maybe I do only need a 2 group machine, since I predict doing more pourovers than espresso-based Americanos. The espresso machine would only be for straight espresso, capp and lattes.