Looking for recommendations on reliable equipment and training center

Hello,

I am trying to decide on the best way to approach my initiative to open a small coffee shop from equipment perspective. I've tried to find info but I did not find such specific info. I mean the info is all over the place but I find it hard to narrow it down to my specific needs. I'd really appreciate experienced baristas'/shop owners'/equipment enthusiasts' inputs and references to the following:

  • Owning refurbished Vs. leasing (not necessarily the financial implication but rather focusing on the reliability of such machines and services)
  • Which machines would you recommend based on reliability ranking (I'd like to narrow it down to 2-group dual boiler or HX machines)?
  • Matching Grinders
  • Which sellers would you recommend for doing business with for either refurbished and/or leasing?
  • Preferred roasters
  • Preferred/recommended training programs/centers?

 

I understand some may refrain from promoting specific vendors or specific info and I'd really like honest, non-biased inputs, you can write to me privately. to gedit@comcast.net

Thank you.

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If leasing is a viable option for you, then it's the way to go.  New equipment on a payment plan that you can continually bill as a corporate expense.  Over the term of the lease, it's going to be more expensive than used, but you're getting new equipment and a legitimate expense to offset your revenue and potential tax burden.

 

Machines?  La Marzocco.

 

Grinders? Compak K10

 

Sellers? Don't know.  Look around.

 

Leasing?  Talk to your bank, friends, business owners and leasing companies. Look for track record and references.  Compare rates.

 

Preferred Roasters?  How are the roasters in your area?  We've worked with a variety of roasters (one for the past six years) and have great relationships with all of them: Origins Organic, Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Ecco, Barefoot, OQ, barismo and a couple of local outfits.  We once used Counter Culture but they told us not to buy from them because one of the owners doesn't like me and said that they didn't like how we sold their coffee and garnered mainstream media attention.  Find a roaster with whom you feel comfortable having a relationship with.  All of ours (with the one exception) we've enjoyed long-term relationships with all of them.

 

Training Centers?  Training Centers are a big thing in recent history, but I'm wary of them overall.  Certainly some of them offer quality experiences but I'm the kind of operator who has standards and would rather not leave my standards being set to others of (perhaps) lesser (or looser) standards.  An example of this is the training center teaching to the SCAA standards, which are too loose for our approach. It would be a step backwards for us.

 

 

 

Jay,

Thanks very much for this very detailed response. In my area there are practically none (I am in south Florida), The nearest I can order from I guess is Counter Culture. Where are you located if I may ask?

I get your point on training but there are two ways: Either I plunge in and learn through the bones or get the insight from professionals. Ideally I would love to join a running business and learn from them. I guess if you are close by that could work out if it'd be OK for you.

Thanks again, this is the most straight froward answer I have ever received on these forums.

Hannan,

 

Check in with robbie @espressoparts.com for the equipment piece. he is a Barista sales rep for EP, and can guide you along the way. Saraz @ espressoparets.com can provide you with both Barsita Training and info on tech traings. The American Barista School in Portland Or, is a great resource as well as a sponsor of Barista Exchange.

 

Thanks for the tips Terry,

I will shoot them an e-mail.

I've looked at the ABC's program and while the agenda is interesting, it is a bit pricy. I hope it is worth it. Do you know of anyone who has taken their workshop and thought it was beneficial to them?

 

Thanks,

Hanan

Hi Hanan,

 

I'd be happy to send you some references of past students if you like. matt @ bellissimo.net is my email. Thanks.

 

Matt Millett

VP of ABC Scool

Both of these companies have great reputations. You may want to go see Panther coffee in Miami to see a good shop or perhaps Spot coffee in Delray for ideas. I would recommend a roaster in Florida Latitude roasters on the west coast. I do also sell equipment and certainly can help. Matt does an great job of training of you have the tome to go to his school.

Thanks for the tips. I will pay a visit to those coffee shops you mentioned (Delray is pretty close to me). Are you personally familiar with Latitude? I've tried to contact them through their web, I am getting an error. I will probably give them a call on Monday. I didn't see coffee styles that are appealing to me, Espresso variety is limited to Dark roast only and I have had enough of those. But will talk to them.

Do you have a website I can look at? If you want to send me some info I'd appreciate it.

 

Hanan-

Thanks for the kind words.  I'm not too interested in selling much to operators so I'll tell you the straight dope, as I see it.

 

I'm in Baltimore and if you're in South Florida and you want to learn then head over to Panther Coffee and beg, plead and offer your life as an indentured servant to Joel and Leticia to learn the business and work for them.  Be humble.  Lower yourself to menial tasks.  Think apprenticeship.  Don't be a jag-off, like so many in coffee's "third wave".

 

Don't waste your time with anyone else in Southern Florida if truly quality coffee is your game.

 

If you decide to continue with opening a shop, don't be too concerned with the location of the roaster, concern yourself with the kind of support you are going to need.  How self-sufficient of an operation are you planning?  At Spro, we do just about everything in-house (training, development, tech), so there's very little need for us to have a roaster that will do those things for us (in fact, I abhor roaster "barista training" - it's like asking your fish monger to train your chef).  That means, all we need our roasters to do is supply us with great, fantastic coffees.  Give me great coffees and I'll make sure that they're presented with excellence to our guests.

 

But really, unless you like the notion of setting the odds to lose your money, I would beg for a job with Joel (even if I had to work part time for free).  Spend a year (or two) with them, learn the business, study other resources and then start your own joint with a clear vision and mission.

Jay,


Thanks very much for these useful tips. I will have to check how practical it would be for me to work their but it might be worth it. I will give it a try.

 

Please send me a link to your website.

Thanks!

 

Jay Caragay said:

Hanan-

Thanks for the kind words.  I'm not too interested in selling much to operators so I'll tell you the straight dope, as I see it.

 

I'm in Baltimore and if you're in South Florida and you want to learn then head over to Panther Coffee and beg, plead and offer your life as an indentured servant to Joel and Leticia to learn the business and work for them.  Be humble.  Lower yourself to menial tasks.  Think apprenticeship.  Don't be a jag-off, like so many in coffee's "third wave".

 

Don't waste your time with anyone else in Southern Florida if truly quality coffee is your game.

 

If you decide to continue with opening a shop, don't be too concerned with the location of the roaster, concern yourself with the kind of support you are going to need.  How self-sufficient of an operation are you planning?  At Spro, we do just about everything in-house (training, development, tech), so there's very little need for us to have a roaster that will do those things for us (in fact, I abhor roaster "barista training" - it's like asking your fish monger to train your chef).  That means, all we need our roasters to do is supply us with great, fantastic coffees.  Give me great coffees and I'll make sure that they're presented with excellence to our guests.

 

But really, unless you like the notion of setting the odds to lose your money, I would beg for a job with Joel (even if I had to work part time for free).  Spend a year (or two) with them, learn the business, study other resources and then start your own joint with a clear vision and mission.

Andrea,

I sent you a request so I can send you a PM. Please send me more details.

Thanks.

While Jay's advice is very accurate, it's not always a viable option.  I can't help with the equipment, but I have been an independent trainer for several years.  

 

It's customized, personal training that is cheaper for a variety of reasons.  It costs the travel and accomodation of one person, rather than an entire staff, and while most people like to travel to a school, it's not the best option for everyone.  Everyone's dream is a little different.

I can recommend Jason as a great trainer who can come into your shop and train you with your equipment. He helped me dial in my GB5 and think through a few aspects of training that I overlooked. He's been a great resource for me in opening up my shop. 

I had great luck with some used equipment that i picked up in the classifieds of Barista Exchange. Make sure you get good references of the seller.

Good luck to you.

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