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Ging3rBen
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#1741: Post by Ging3rBen »

ShotClock wrote:John - I think that the "self-service cafe" is a fascinating concept, and would certainly drop in next time I'm in London. I have a few questions though, maybe you will indulge me:

- Is this primarily a venue for pre-sales, or for selling coffee? The former seems to have a fairly limited constituency, while the latter might balk at being asked to do anything themselves.
- It seems to me that most cafes have two categories of customer - infrequent or one-off walk-ins (many more of these in shopping heavy districts like Soho and Covent Garden); and repeat customers who want to be in and out quickly (more of these in commerce heavy areas such as the City, Holborn, Bloomsbury etc.). It seems that the first category here will be much harder to target than the second.
- Would you use commercial grinders that are faster and require little by way of distribution, or single dosing domestic grinders? The first of these seems to be much better for selling coffee, and the second much better for pre-sales.
- What happens if I pay, and then blow a shot? Do I get as many tries as I need for free?
- What happens if I burn myself? The auto steam-purge is particularly tricky for those who are only partly familiar with the machine.
- Perhaps most importantly - how do you avoid a "tragedy of the commons" effect? With so many users and a "not my machine" mentality, will there be a culture of wiping, flushing, purging and cleaning up after yourself? Will the staff have to enforce this culture? Will the staff have to clean up the machines after (almost) every shot?
Those are all really good points. As a regular user of speciality coffee shops in central London I am interested in this concept but you'll have to pitch it just right to make it work and that's the tricky part.

Are you imagining an almost Apple store style venue where people come in to tinker and try out the latest gear, and then hopefully order a machine? I think the target market for that is always going to be quite limited compared to those that just want good coffee and fast. Especially in tourist heavy areas where people are unlikely to order a machine to their home if they are overseas and visiting london. Of course they can then order when they get home but has "the moment" gone by tha point?
The second group won't want to make it themselves, get it wrong and potentially be disappointed, so on hand staff to help will be key. I can see the costs of this being astronomical so you'll need huge through flow of coffee customers to make it work, a machine sale would have to be seen as a bonus IMO.

I really hope if you do it it's a huge success. I'd definitely be there myself. Best of luck with it.

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decent_espresso (original poster)
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#1742: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »

ShotClock wrote:- Is this primarily a venue for pre-sales, or for selling coffee? The former seems to have a fairly limited constituency, while the latter might balk at being asked to do anything themselves.
Primarily, it's for learning to make an espresso yourself. I suspect that could be novel for a lot of people. Initially, we'll make it for you. All espresso machines, though, will be front-customer-facing, not rear-customer-facing, so they can go along with the process, seeing what's being done. We can have them do things like put a portafilter into a grinder, and then into a autotamper.
ShotClock wrote:- It seems to me that most cafes have two categories of customer - infrequent or one-off walk-ins (many more of these in shopping heavy districts like Soho and Covent Garden); and repeat customers who want to be in and out quickly (more of these in commerce heavy areas such as the City, Holborn, Bloomsbury etc.). It seems that the first category here will be much harder to target than the second.
Agreed, it'd be mostly people walking through Soho.

Fyi the location we're looking at is along the Berwick St Market, pretty much opposite the famous Flat White cafe.



Lots of foot traffic, good amount of sidewalk space, no cars.
ShotClock wrote:- Would you use commercial grinders that are faster and require little by way of distribution, or single dosing domestic grinders? The first of these seems to be much better for selling coffee, and the second much better for pre-sales.
Commercial weighing grinder. We'll have single dose grinders (and tampers) there too, for "what you might use at home" for a later discussion. But most people will make coffee with a commercial weighing grinder, and an autotamp.
ShotClock wrote:- What happens if I pay, and then blow a shot? Do I get as many tries as I need for free?
Of course. Get help. My hope is to have enough staff so there'll always be someone right there for you.

But, at any rate, initially WE make the coffee with you. I think we need to do that for liability reasons, too. You can then "join the club", sign a liability waiver, and also get a steep discount. I'm thinking £1/£2 espresso/milky-drinks for members, 50% more if we make it for you and you're not a member.
ShotClock wrote:- What happens if I burn myself? The auto steam-purge is particularly tricky for those who are only partly familiar with the machine.
It's pretty hard to burn yourself steaming, but we can turn "two tap steam stop" mode on, to address your point, which is the anxiety that auto-purging causes new users.

I do think that milk steaming is the most traumatic part of making a coffee drink, for absolute beginners, and I don't yet know how to manage that.
ShotClock wrote:- Perhaps most importantly - how do you avoid a "tragedy of the commons" effect? With so many users and a "not my machine" mentality, will there be a culture of wiping, flushing, purging and cleaning up after yourself? Will the staff have to enforce this culture? Will the staff have to clean up the machines after (almost) every shot?
It's a good question, and I don't know. Since our machine are small, we can have a dozen ready & waiting, so if some are dirty, others hopefully won't be.

Thanks for your thinking about this idea, more questions...!

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decent_espresso (original poster)
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#1743: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »

Ging3rBen wrote:Are you imagining an almost Apple store style venue where people come in to tinker and try out the latest gear, and then hopefully order a machine?
More like the Apple store, yes, where you can walk right up to a device and try it. Differently from the Apple Store, though, you might regularly to get a coffee here, perhaps after lunch. If we're really popular and there are queues, well, that's an incentive to buy one for your home or office, isn't it?

I also think that people really have no idea what a Barista does, and a "free 5 minute lesson" you can have at any time, could be novel and fun. I'd like to be open late (10pm) so people on dates in Soho come by, as part of their "date night", after they've had dinner, to make a coffee together.

People who have no intention of becoming professional baristas take SCA courses, after all. My partner took the level-1 SCA course at Prufrock, and all the other students had never made an espresso before, yet paid quite a lot to be there.
Ging3rBen wrote: I think the target market for that is always going to be quite limited compared to those that just want good coffee and fast. Especially in tourist heavy areas where people are unlikely to order a machine to their home if they are overseas and visiting london. Of course they can then order when they get home but has "the moment" gone by that point?
Sure: more people will want a coffee than make one. But... if they make one and then go home, will they talk about the experience?

Will the coffee we serve them be a WOW and memorable, and make all other coffees disappointing? :D I'd like to think so.

Even if all we had was "instagrammers" who had no intention of buying a machine, that would still be tremendously useful.
Ging3rBen wrote:The second group won't want to make it themselves, get it wrong and potentially be disappointed, so on hand staff to help will be key. I can see the costs of this being astronomical so you'll need huge through flow of coffee customers to make it work, a machine sale would have to be seen as a bonus IMO.
Two things on that:
1) firstly, we'll make the coffee for you, with your collaboration, so it won't go wrong, until you are far enough along to do it unsupervised
2) it'll be pretty much impossible to make a bad espresso. The beans are good, grind dialed in, a good weighing grinder, auto-tamper. Steaming milk, is a different story, though!

I leave you with two points:
- selling one espresso machine, is like selling 1000 coffees that day.
- if we can, on average, sell 1 DE1 per day, that's USD$1 million in revenue, slightly more than a Starbucks ($945k) brings in.


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decent_espresso (original poster)
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#1744: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »




Paris Coffee Show next week (and Frankfurt in September)

Next saturday/sunday/monday we'll be exhibiting at the Paris Coffee Show. I'll have two DE1 there, making espresso and Filter3. This year we've teamed up with our Bordeaux cafe/roasting friends L'Alchimiste and booked a larger stand. Bring your own beans, if you want me to make you an espresso with them.

Here's the form for getting a free guest pass:
https://www.pariscafefestival.com/Guest-Pass

Monday is "pro day" and you can apply here for a free pass:
https://www.pariscafefestival.com/Accreditation/Menu

This show, along with the one in Frankfurt, are my favorite shows, as they are both very much not about Big Business: restricting exhibitors to smaller booths (ours is 2x3 meters), restricting height, and giving priority to local roasters. Mostly it's coffee fans, not cafes meeting their big brand distributors. You get to taste a lot of coffee, and from that, decide what you want to drink at home.

Both the French and German shows have audiences who really appreciate good coffee. It is not "du Business", as the French expression goes (it's a very negative expression!).

And speaking of Frankfurt, in September we'll be back there, again with our local wood making friends Wiedemann.

Killbert
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#1745: Post by Killbert »

I am ready to buy an XL but would love to know what the Bengle has in store. Would definitely wait if needed.

K

SameGuy
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#1746: Post by SameGuy »

decent_espresso wrote:People who have no intention of becoming professional baristas take SCA courses, after all. My partner took the level-1 SCA course at Prufrock, and all the other students had never made an espresso before, yet paid quite a lot to be there.
I think this is extremely pertinent to the discussion, and to the whole concept. Classes at well-known cafés and roasters are not cheap and have long wait-lists, yet are almost without fail treated as afterthoughts by the businesses offering them; by offering the hands-on as the café's raison-d'être while incentivizing both drink and machine purchases puts this concept on a different playing field. If the margins on one machine sale are really the equivalent of several hours of drinks sales, I think it's a very attractive concept indeed.

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decent_espresso (original poster)
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#1747: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »

Killbert wrote:I am ready to buy an XL but would love to know what the Bengle has in store. Would definitely wait if needed.
K
A few pages previous on this thread, I posted a bunch of info about what Bengle will be offering. Happy to answer any remaining questions that weren't answered back there.

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decent_espresso (original poster)
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#1748: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »

SameGuy wrote:I think this is extremely pertinent to the discussion, and to the whole concept. Classes at well-known cafés and roasters are not cheap and have long wait-lists, yet are almost without fail treated as afterthoughts by the businesses offering them; by offering the hands-on as the café's raison-d'être while incentivizing both drink and machine purchases puts this concept on a different playing field. If the margins on one machine sale are really the equivalent of several hours of drinks sales, I think it's a very attractive concept indeed.
One espresso machine sale is like selling 1000 lattes. Depending on the popularity of the cafe that represents one day to one week of coffee sales.

Killbert
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#1749: Post by Killbert »

Thanks Paul. I grazed through the entire thread but missed that. I will hunt for it.

K

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#1750: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »

Killbert wrote:Thanks Paul. I grazed through the entire thread but missed that. I will hunt for it.
Here is the post I made about Bengle's capabilities:
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