I'm planning to open my shop this summer in Paola, Kansas and while I'm doing my research and trying to figure out what brand I want to sell, I have to ask, how do you choose? Do you go to roasters and have them make a special blend just for you? Do you order online? How do you get that distinct flavor? So many questions!!! Thanks for any info you can give!

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Mandi~
Definitely search out a bunch of roasters and ask them lots of questions. Based on what you tell them you want any good roaster should be able to help you out. From your own blend to training to where to get cups. There are definitely enough roasters out there that you should be able to find one that will fit what you want to do and cater to your needs. Good luck to you and if you have any more questions feel free to shoot em at me.
I have the fortunate experience of living in Italy.
The first time I visited Italy I didn't even drink caffeined tea. The bed and breakfast in which I stayed served espresso (of course). The pensione manager insisted I try a drink. Well, to make a long story short, he finally convinced me to try a cappuccino. It wasn't memorable. Later that morning -- as I was out on my touristy walk -- I came upon a roadside vendor who happen to be selling drinks. As I was surverying the menu I noticed a man down the counter from me having a cappuccino and a glass of congac. I HAD to try it. I WAS HOOKED. It was then I understood the culture of coffee.
In my subsequent visits to Italy, I came to understand what espresso was meant to be -- NEVER bitter. After living in Italy for almost a year, I developed a healthy taste for espressso. NEVER BITTER. When I decided to open up my own shop, I knew I wanted to recreate that espresso experience I so often enjoyed in my morning routine from leaving my apartments in Firenze, Italy, Enna, et al. So when it came time to choose a blend: I checked out the different espresso bars in my city. I spoke to all the owners. I checked out their suppliers. I chose the one that I felt most comfortable with whom I could have a business relation and then insisted on many, many cupping sessions to find "that" right blend. I also had to consider how it would react with my chosen machine -- La Marzocco GB5 -- and grinder. It has been a long road but well worth the journey. I am very pleased with the two blends we use. The fit has been like an old comfortable pair of shoes. I am very happy with my choices.
I wish you good luck and hope that you find your answers. Choose the right questions first and the answers become self evident....
ciao
von flores
you could just find a place that sells coffee you like and go from there, I personally dug into a dumpster to find a coffee roaster once, the place I found wouldn't tell me who the got their beans from, so I did the only thing I could...now I don't tell anyone where my beans come from, cept I lock my dumpster ;)
Hi Mandi,

Choosing your roaster is a big step and what you want is someone you will feel comfortable with for a long-term relationship. Not all roasters offer the same services, some carry allied products (anything that supports the sales of coffee) some don't. Training is a major issue-will they come out and train and follow-up with refresher courses? Personally, I feel this is one if the major determining factors because if the roaster is truly proud of their coffee, then they should be willing to take the time and care to ensure you are doing the best job possible. A great espresso can be ruined by a poorly trained barista. Do they rep an Espresso machine and do they carry the parts and do the service...you are out of the main urban area so what happens if your machine goes down? Parts availability and service are a MUST!! Some roasters have a much larger range of coffees to choose from...some only carry a few blends. Will you be doing espresso only or will you be offering a full range of brewed coffees as well and if so, then will you just be brewing or would you condider a drip bar-this is an excellent way to showcase wonderful single-origin coffee as well as stimulate sales and set yourself apart from the crowd. Some will create a special blend for you but may want a commitment of a minimum of 100# but they may be willing to take an existing blend and re-label it with your name. Some of the things you might want to ask yourself-Are you looking for a "1-stop shopping" thing where you will be able to purchase all or most of your supplies from the same roaster, cups, chocolate, smoothies, syrups etc or are you OK with picking and choosing various products from different sources? Are you looking for a sustainable roaster-primarily focusing on Fair trade, shade grown, organic and who would be likely to offer products of a like nature?
What about shipping Vs. local...where you are, I assume that there isn't much of a local offering so you are probably going to have to seek out a company who will ship you product. Often, roasters will offer a break on shipping of coffee if you buy a certain volume (coffee only though, most roasters/distributers are carrying allied products to help meet the needs of their customers and are not making real profits on these products and therefore wouldn't be able to offer free shipping on them). Finally, online ordering is fine and convienient but a good rep can help you in many ways beyond just ordering coffee.
cheers,
Steve
Keep this in mind too. Coffee is an agricultural product and, like grapes for wine, quality ranges from grower to grower. Make sure you know where your coffee is coming from. Make sure it is of a high quality and make sure it's got a story. The industry is moving very fast right now and low-quality coffee is out.

We can be smart retailers but if we don't know our product we will never be good sellers.
Oh honey!!! Thats a tough spot to be in isn't it? I feel your pain and you know what there isn't a right answer to this. I have a retail cafe and I have helped hundreds if not thousands of people open coffee shops across My best advice is to sample sample sample and talk to as many people as you can. Local or not...find a company that you really like. (local is usually easier) You must have a great relationship with your roaster and they better "want" your business. If they don't seem to care about your plans then move on. Its kind of like getting married. You should find someone that can be there for you when you need help or have questions, you must be able to get along well with them, they should have a great product and should help you create a product that is just what you are looking for. Also...they should educate you as much as possible and really listen to what you "want" and guide you into suggestions...I'm very passionate about this! I've helped so many people open coffee shops across the U.S. and finding the right roaster is a crucial part of your business. Have you hired a consultant or have you gone anywhere for barista training??? Let me know if you have any other questions if you'd like I can help with some names and #'s of roasters we know in the area. My name is Tera, our business is called Cafe Technologies....877-743-0888 ext 12 you can check out our website as well - www.cafetechnologies.com
I wish you luck!!! Good luck on your new business, its so much fun!!!
I tried hundreds of coffee's for months. When it came down to the nitty gritty and picking just one of all the great coffee's I tried. I chose this by the spirit the company had and the training they offered me. So I wound up with "Dancing Goats Coffee" and I had proper training sent to my shop to brew the perfect pot on my own equipment. It is a huge hit!
Good!!! I'm so glad you are all taken care of! I hear great things about that company so it sounds like you are in good hands!!! Where is your cafe located?
My shop is in Lynchburg, VA. I am expanding and open three - four more in the next year. How about you do you have a shop?
Very exciting!!! Congratulations! That's a big deal! Do you have sit down cafes or drive thru's or both? I own a sit down cafe, 60+% of our business is specialty coffee but we do breakfast and lunch as well...its a lot of fun. Sort of a "Cheers" atmosphere, we have a lot of regular customers and we tend to know everyone's name! We actually own another company that specializes in helping people open coffee shops. That company is called Cafe Technologies (www.cafetechnologies.com) We offer 6 premier lines of espresso equipment, coffee brewers, start up accessories as well as full barista training. We'll go on site and train someone's entire staff or they can come to us and we offer a classroom style training as well as first hand experience behind the counter at our retail cafe. It's so much fun. I love meeting people and helping them get opened! Anyone who loves good coffee is a good friend of mine!!! So if you end up needing help with equipment packages or training for your new locations let me know. :) What's the name of your business? Do you have a website as well?
Wow Brain congradulations! How is it going for you? How many people do you get in each day? Do you serve food? So about all the questions I like to know because I am expanding. Bernadette
Hi Mandi! Best wishes with your shop opening.I opened my shop 2 months ago, and selecting a roaster was the biggest decision I made. We went to Coffeefest in Chicago and set about sampling the hundreds of coffees represented there.It was a great experience, because all of the coffees there are represented by folks from the company so you get to meet them and learn their philosophy and approach to their product, and find what kind of company they are.Mostly, you get to sample! We found the best tasting coffee, and then met the people from the company, and knew it was a roaster we wanted to be associated with. We are really happy we took awhile selecting our coffee since it is the cornerstone of our business, and we are proud to serve the coffee we chose.Ask a lot of questions and go with your gut.Don't go with a coffee that tastes good if you don't relate to the people selling it, and don't go with a company that promises you everything...find a great coffee that you like, and see if you like the people selling it.There is your brand!

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