I would love to hear what you think the repercussions of the economy will mean to the coffee industry.

I have my inclinations and will share when the discussion begins to roll.

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Coffee sales are up (Beans) and food sales are down a bit. But My shop is between Vancouver and Whistler, and we are currently in between seasons. Ie... Not summer Not Winter which equals less travel. I was interested in how many Americans would travel this season to Whistler BC. So far I have seen many as we get closer to snow season plus 1 year out from 2010 Olympics. And that is a whole other topic of spending. Best thing going right now is the USD is up on the CND. BUT the biggest increase I have seen in products are anything attached to a cow, ie milk, cheese etc , and the increase in green bean costs. My Ethiopian coffees went up a whole $1 per pound, and the ever diminishing cost between Organic and non-organic is getting smaller as well. So much so that is almost cost effective to just buy Organic only. Some would say why would you not anyway... But as a retailer and wholesaler, I have found that most dont care about organic products and would rather pay less per pound of coffee when giver the option for both from the same country or blend. So with all that said, Go Obama! Just had to put that in there.
Well, its been a while since anyone has weighed in on this. I've noticed a small drop in business. I work in a financial district and about 10 of my daily regulars were laid off. I'd say about another 10 have dropped their daily habits to a few times a week.
The economy is deinitely going to be a factor for all types of businesses. Until president elect Obama gets into office and has about a year of actually being involved with measures that can positively impact our business, our economy may remain slow.

During this time, we all need to take measures that will keep our business healthy. That may mean as simple as getting the edge on your competitor with more training or creative ideas. Cutting back personnel
or higher cost products is not always a good idea, it can weaken your business, and this strategy may fall right in to your competitors hands.
Up 8% in September, down 1% in October, up 9% so far in November. I hate to type out these numbers, fearing I am jinxing myself. I believe if you are fanatical about quality, cultivate loyal regulars, price correctly, and position yourself in a decent location, it works.
This is an espresso flag. Mine is 3 x 5 foot and I got it on ebay for under $10. It flies on a regular flag pole.

Jason Haeger said:
Brady said:
Mellisa said:
...I also got an espresso flag. When it flies, they flock. If business is slow, I forgot to put the flag out.
Don't ask me why.... guess its an attention grabber.

An espresso flag? Is that like a Jolly Roger? I'd love to see this, do you have a picture?
Me too!
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Troy Reynard said:
Up 8% in September, down 1% in October, up 9% so far in November. I hate to type out these numbers, fearing I am jinxing myself. I believe if you are fanatical about quality, cultivate loyal regulars, price correctly, and position yourself in a decent location, it works.

That's good news Troy, glad to hear that your shop is doing well. We talk lots about how good solid coffee-centric shops should do well (and hope that that is true) but its always good to hear cases where this is actually happening. Hope to stop by some time, next time I'm in the area.

We're about to celebrate our 1-year anniversary. Having a pretty decent November so far, and hitting our growth goals. There have definitely been weeks where we've felt the impact of all the grim news... (or gas prices) and we hear frequently about customers that have lost jobs, seen business drop, or are cutting back on expenses, so we're working twice as hard to bring in more new customers and create value for our existing ones. Fortunately, our core customers are friends that seem to really understand how important their patronage is to keeping us open. They like having us in the neighborhood and really want us to stay. We are pretty grateful for this.

Maybe we should buy one of those Espresso flags...
Keep up the community spirit and support those who support you and the storm will pass. Coffee tends to be, knocking on wood, a bit recession proof. Coffeehouses are a gathering place and sounding board for what people are going thru and the experience, brief as it may be, is invaluable and indispensable for most. Neighborhood pubs experience the same thing, just at the other end of the day.

Wow, I'm feeling preachy. Sorry. Keep on keepin on.
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I am starting a new coffee roasting business. I have been reluctant because of the current economic conditions, but have decided to forge ahead. Any advice from you seasoned veterans would be appreciated.
Regina Alleman said:
I am starting a new coffee roasting business. I have been reluctant because of the current economic conditions, but have decided to forge ahead. Any advice from you seasoned veterans would be appreciated.

OK. So, my first bit of advice is probably not going to be an easy one to hear.

You have to change your company name. There is already a Dancing Goats Coffee Company. They are the retail arm of Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters, a highly respected thirdwave company. You don't want to get into a scuffle with these guys over trademark rights.

Second, I would say that it is best to STAY AWAY FROM RETAIL! At this time, the worst thing you could do is increase expenses by having to pay a staff, buy lots of brewing equipment, and settle into one location. Diversify by going the wholesale route. This way, regardless of whether or not the coffee business as a whole starts to tank [it won't] your operation will outlive the retailers.

Third, and perhaps most importantly [depending on your market] focus on QUALITY! Hire someone who knows what they are doing if you don't. Don't be afraid to pay a seasoned roaster for a while as you learn the ins and outs for yourself. Coffee is a complex of interwoven systems. Like the ecosystems where coffee is grown, everything effects everything- you really must know what you are buying, who you are buying it from, and what conditions are like on the ground.

Fourth, use the power of the internet. You already seem to have this bit of knowledge. Wholesalers need to have an effective webcampaign to reach out beyond their delivery route. Barista exchange and sites like it are a great resource for knowledge [and I probably shouldn't give so much away in such clearly defined terms] but nothing can top experience.

Good luck to you! You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
Hey Regina, I would agree with some of what Zech says excepting the avoidance of retail and going straight into wholesale. If you're serious about starting a biz you've probably heard by now the retail sucess term "Location, location, location." This is totally true especially for those who have no prior face in the industry or previous business to draw upon. Neighborhood density paired with high visibility and easy access is the best recipe to survive a start-up process. Keep it simple and quality focused, garner as much info as you can before you even begin to attempt it and stick to your guns. Remember, it's your business and you're doing this for you. You will be doing it different than others and your customers will recognize and appreciate that. Be patient cuz it takes a long time to turn the corner into positive cash flow.

Wholesale can grow out of retail either right away or later. If you roast and wholesale coffee WITHOUT a retail face you won't be able to prove yourself as readily as you would if you can show off in a retail outlet where the presentation and product rocks. Your reputation will grow from your abilities. If you can kill with the preparation, the environment in the shop and being a part of community involvement you will attract business from honest means. In other words you won't have to spend a ton on marketing. Marketing money will be hard to come by in the first few years...unless you have killer financial backing and liberal payoff terms. Not many people I know have that sweet of a situation.

Hope this helps!
Cheers
I like Scotts comments, not just because he is a charming guy, but because in my view he has it right. We started years ago just doing wholesale. It was tough going, although our coffee was great we did not have any big accounts to hang ourselves off or use as a sales prop. Out of chance or coiincidence, more than by design, we got into retail and the wholesale side of things then took care of itself to some degree. True, on the surface retail is hard yacker. However, doing it right (product, training, ambience) etc really helps consumers see that you are dedicated to your work. So OK there is indeed a lot of competition out there, so you just need to make sure you do it better and you can use retail as a prop for that.

OUR main concern at present is the Euro. Against our local currency has effectively devalued 40% against the Euro over the last 3 months... we hedged somewhat but not really enough to be able to effectively absorb the increased cost of purchasing machines. That will require some creative thinking to deal with :(

Regina Alleman said:
I am starting a new coffee roasting business. I have been reluctant because of the current economic conditions, but have decided to forge ahead. Any advice from you seasoned veterans would be appreciated.

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