Whether you want to work from home selling coffee or want to sell coffee on the streets, this is a business that can have very loyal customers. Just ask Starbucks!
People love their coffee and they show it with their money by paying crazy amounts – like $18 for a cup of coffee.
This is one of the few businesses that you can charge outrageously different amounts for the exact same product.
That’s one of those things that makes starting a coffee business very attractive for a lot of entrepreneurs.
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What will I learn?
1. Start a Coffee Cart/stand business
Building a coffee cart business is one of those low-cost businesses that is relatively easy to get off the ground.
Figuring out the legal stuff
Obviously, the first thing you need to look for is whether or not your local regulations allow you to sell coffee out of a coffee cart.
There are, of course, health concerns that govern any mobile food business. Some cities strictly ban this altogether, but most major cities are open, but they have strict rules.
None of that is meant to stop you from operating your coffee stand business. They are there to protect your customers and you.
You can usually find this information on your local government’s website or by contacting them.
Location, location, location!
Once you have the legal stuff in the bag, you can start to form your business plan.
You want to think about a good location.
Needless to say, you want to target high (foot) traffic areas.
Your city’s downtown is normally the perfect place for not just a coffee stand but any food truck business.
What’s on the menu
The next step is to come up with your menu items.
Are you serving just a simple cup of coffee?
Or are you going to have other beverages – Latte, Cappuccino, Iced tea/coffee…?
Find your vendors
To save money, you will definitely need to find wholesalers so you can buy your ingredients like coffee beans in bulk at discounted rates.
This information can be found either online, especially on related forums, or you can even ask other local businesses.
Buy your equipment
Even a simple coffee stand still needs some equipment beyond just a coffee maker and paper cups.
Luckily there are tons of places where you can buy this stuff.
Obliviously, the steps outlined here are just meant as an overall reminder. There is much more that goes into starting a coffee cart (or any other) business.
The more you research before you actually pour your heart and money into it, the more likely you are to succeed.
Don’t rush into it. Take your time. Read. Research. Ask.
2. Open a coffee shop
Don’t like having a mobile station as your workplace? Go for a traditional brick-and-mortar store.
You have got two options here:
- Go for a franchise
- Open a totally independent store
Although Starbucks isn’t a franchise, there are other popular nationwide coffee shop franchises.
And if you really want a Starbucks, they do offer what they call a “licensed” store, which is basically your store owned by the Starbucks company.
Franchising is expensive. For example, Starbucks’ “licensed” store deal will set you back around $350,000.
Sure, you do get the benefits of having a globally recognized brand behind you, but there are tons of small mom-and-pop coffee shops that are doing great as well.
Either way, the process remains virtually the same as starting any other business. So do your research and learn as much as you can before getting into it.
3. Coffee Vending Machine
This one is all about the location(s).
Having a coffee vending machine in the right place is actually very profitable and relatively easy to operate.
The hardest part is getting things started and finding good locations where you can set your machines up.
Here again, you can either find coffee vending machine franchise opportunities or start your own.
4. Sell coffee online
Another way to profit is to create a website where you can sell specialty coffee.
With the price of specialty coffee being high and a decent loyal customer base, it wouldn’t be hard to make a profit.
The hardest part is sourcing a good quality coffee and a supplier you can trust.
To attract customers initially, you could have social media promotion where you offer free coffee samples. That will help get the word out.
Here are a few examples of sites that sell specialty coffee online:
As I mentioned a few times throughout this post, the best thing you can do to increase the odds of succeeding is research.
Some of the best places to learn are online forums where coffee lovers and entrepreneurs who either have started or are going to start a coffee related business hang out.
Here are a few of the most popular ones:
Use these forums to learn.
Ask questions. Read other people’s questions and answers.
There is a ton of useful information you can learn just by hanging out on these forums.
The Bottom Line
Selling coffee, like selling anything else, takes planning, hard work, and commitment.
The one thing that makes this business different than many others is that as long as you can brew a good cup of java, you don’t really have to persuade people to buy it from you.
People love their morning (or anytime) cup of joe and are happy to pay for it.
All coffee sellers should aim to have enough money to invest in setting up a coffee shop.