What's the worst thing to offer customers in a coffeehouse?

I am hoping to start a coffeehouse by the end of summer. I am currently deciding on what services, menu items, seating, etc, to offer my customers. I am also considering what equipment to use.

What's the one thing you would never do? If you have more than one, that would still be helpful.

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These have been very enlightening responses, and I really appreciate the advice. Keep them coming!
Jesse -D-> said:
*note* burrito is an example, I've never actually seen a burrito/coffee shop

bouldin creek, austin, tx!

well...mainly tacos.
I would never hire a cranky or grumpy barista and cashier. As most of people who usually drinks espresso with milk has no idea what they´re actually drinking, make sure that the service is outstanding.
+1

say no to Grumpy Baristas that think they are cooler than all of their customers.
Jason Shipley said:
+1
say no to Grumpy Baristas that think they are cooler than all of their customers.

word...

If i get the same condescending look for whatever i order from the barista as i get from the indie record store counter when i buy extreme's greatest hits (Hypothetically, it could exist.) i say the same thing to both of them...

"Hey man, it was on your shelf."
granted...i don't order or listen to crap
http://coffeegeek.com/opinions/professionals/02-20-2009

"Coffeehouse customers reveal a surprisingly balanced decision making process not unlike the mythical rational consumer, or at least they did in August 2007, when Mintel International Group asked them what they are most interested in when visiting a coffeehouse. Respondents were allowed to choose as many answers as they found applicable. The top four answers:

1. Reasonable prices 62%
2. Serves me quickly 62%
3. Has consistently high-quality coffee 61%
4. Conveniently located to where I live 61%

One must imagine that the percentage of customers who would say "reasonable prices" has increased since August 2007, perhaps dramatically and perhaps at the expense of quality-driven decisions..."
Sometimes you end up drinking crap even though you haven´t ordered it.

Hey Paul, get ready to become a control freak or to live without decent days off, if you don´t want your staff to ruin your business. And make sure you´ll always deliver quality and consistence. Unless your costumers don´t give a damn to it and all they really want is low price and lots of milk.
Get to know your costumers, and be 100% available to your own business. Staff can cost you much more than just their wages.

Chris/Dale said:
granted...i don't order or listen to crap
Flavia Celidonio Pogliani said:
Hey Paul, get ready to become a control freak or to live without decent days off, if you don´t want your staff to ruin your business. And make sure you´ll always deliver quality and consistence. Unless your costumers don´t give a damn to it and all they really want is low price and lots of milk. Get to know your costumers, and be 100% available to your own business. Staff can cost you much more than just their wages.


true enough, If you want to run a cafe effectively , you pretty much have to live there.
Paul Yates said:
The consensus I am receiving seems to be: remain true to myself and my vision for this venture, but listen to my customer base and be willing to consider items that may not have otherwise registered on my radar screen. Good advice. Yes, I do have a fairly clear idea of what I want to offer, but that is likely due to watching the opportunity arrive over 4 years. I have had time to think about it some.
However, because my experience with coffeehouses is mostly *$ and others, I have realized that an independent shop has a great advantage over the franchise shop. In the distant large city to the north, there are only a few *$, and even fewer independent shops. So, for me to gain a better insight into how to create a successful coffeehouse, I still find myself coming back to my original question: What should I never offer/do/forget, etc, in my coffeehouse?
Hi Paul,
The only thing really new and enlightening in your coffee shop is your customer. Every day, just like you and I, your customer comes in with another day on his/her agenda. That means he/she might feel different from one day to the next and however slight that may be for some, it's a chance to make someones palate feel good. If my customers are my life, I feel inspired to make the best possible experience for them. To do that, I follow some rules.......

The same old standby's we've always had in all food service professions.....
1. Great customer service.
2. Quality food and beverage.
3. Clean and friendly environment.

To focus in on a bit further are things like being unique to your shop, flavor consistency, style of service, branding, artwork, and hours of operation.
Be courteous and professional with the food inspector.
Visibly take the tip cup off the counter in front of the person who you SAW take money out of it. Don't say anything.
Post your wifi password by your cash register but you will be respected more by offering it without a purchase than if you require a purchase. Most people will respect it. A bad apple now and then won't hurt you.
Know your plu's and pull reports at the end of each day.
Keep a running log of what plu's are doing.
Choose a food service that offers a cost breakdown.
Train your staff to be consistent with ingredients. That means the exact amount of syrup in a drink to the exact amount of cheese on a deli sandwich. You can throw away a lot of money otherwise and consistency will change.
Training is key to all your service and can hardly be emphasized enough in general.... (espresso, frothing, and flavoring training is another absolute to quality and consistency on a detail level)
Either do a simple menu so you can change it often or provide printed menus for tables.
If the bathroom isn't clean, your friends will forgive you because they like you, but keep it clean anyway. No one really likes to use a dirty bathroom.

Listen to your customers. Their usually right. Some people say always, but I've backed away from that. :)

Remember a coffee shop is a profession. You can get about any kind of food and a cup of coffee just about anywhere at anytime but a great cup of coffee, latte, or cappuccinno is an experience! Keep it that way in your shop. If you do, you can serve an array of other foods (but not drinks) without hurting the coffee experience. (I know that's out of the box but you're not a franchise and your locality is somewhat unique)

Don't fear change or the unknown.

And, last but not least, serve JAVATAZA COFFEE! :)

I know you well enough by now to say all the above are things you know as much or more about as I do. And you're a people person and that will go a long ways in this profession.
OMG, you just gave me a great idea that I hadn't even considered even tho I've been going around mornings wondering, "Why can't I get awesome breakfast tacos AND delicious coffee at the SAME DAMN PLACE?!" Now, if anyone in Austin steals this idea, I will hunt you down and demand partnership, :p.

Jesse -D-> said:
IMHO, it is important to consider aroma when you are deciding if/which foods to serve. Ideally you get your lunch at a restaurant and your coffee at a coffee shop. But as some of you have mentioned the American market seems to think that they should go together in many cases. So all I can say is that if you have a coffeshop with light fare then consider that you are still a coffee shop. If it smells like burritos when people walk into your COFFEE shop then it will only appeal to your burrito customers (which would be a smaller percentage than your coffee customers) Make it smell like delicious coffee, even outside your cafe.

as for things to not offer, there is only one size of cappucino. Just 5-7oz no matter what your customers say. Just 1 size, this opens the door to educating so many people because they think that espresso drinks have different ingredients when it is actually a ratio difference in may cases.

*note* burrito is an example, I've never actually seen a burrito/coffee shop
Just a follow up on this post:
We are now open and the response in our community as been amazingly supportive!!!
For our type of Coffee House; Food YES!!!! it is what gets them to sit down and socialize and then come back up for a second (and even third) from our baristas!

Thank to all who have helped get us to this day! God bless you all!

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