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KMO Coffee
Grande Kaffé
Kind Of Place: Equipment

This is a question of Volume, money, and Freedom.

The Budget section give you an overview of equipment.  Budget is a major concern in selecting equipment.

If you think trading freedom of choice is worth $6,000 in equipment, please finish reading every page on this site before you open.  You must become the coffee selector, evaluator, buyer, taster, brewer, seller, and expert.  How can you do that if you are not allowed to buy coffee from anyone except the person who supplies your equipment.

Please read on: Each section describes the equipment you will need.  Also go the Grindmaster, Fedco, other manufacturers sites.

Espresso: Brewer, Grinder and Accessories
Coffee: brewer, grinder and accessories
Beans: Bulk, Prepackaged

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Is this not the reason you are opening your store?  Independence and Freedom to do what you want to do.  If you accept free equipment the first place to go is TINSTAAFL  Then to the well to find a way to raise a few thousand dollars.  What price freedom of choice.

Giving (TINSTAAFL) equipment started with local roasters who would come out to repair complex stuff.  Today brewers and grinders are better than the energizer.  And you want to deal with a roaster that knows specialty coffee, roasts to order so you have fresh coffee when you order, and variety.  There are few roasters in local markets that meet this bill.

And you definitely don't want to support - that is give your money to - a local roaster who also has a retail store.

Is a business that competes with you a friend?  You may love the people, but when they talk to your customers be sure they say things like "Oh I know Janice's place, she uses our Hazelnut".  This happens all the time and dilutes your equity.  So buy right and fly to the Bahamas once in a while.

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If you expect any kind of volume you do not want to accept free equipment (remember TINSTAAFL).  Here's why.  I know a major green coffee company that gives free equipment and charges $5.99 or higher per pound of coffee.  If you do even low volume and buy your equipment you will make back this investment in short order, way less than a year, because you will be Free to buy coffee at least $1.50 lower per pound.  In this example I am thinking you will be doing 200 to 300 pounds per month.  How many months does it take to pay back the $2,000 equipment investment? (Ans: 6 or less). 

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There is a major lesson we learn and relearn every day.  "One thing leads to another".  Compromise on a little thing and it can effect an event two years form now.  This happens every day.  In this case, say you want to add thirty new coffees to the new 4' display you put in, but your equipment is owned by the local roaster.  What do you do?  Live with the anxiety that he will come in one day and pull his equipment?  He may.

Here the little compromise was accepting a couple of thousand dollar investment by the equipment person at the outset and two years latter it limits your ability to expand the coffee line.   Better you spend an additional week when opening the store, raising another $2,000 for two brewers and two grinders.  

If you are opening a store that all in will cost you well over $100,000, why not borrow another $2,000.  If you do your homework, pick a good site, design your concept and deal well with people, you will be successful.   Buy the equipment, or lease it, and bring in the thirty coffee's.  The thirty coffees will turn every two or three weeks and generate lots more revenue and gross profits then is needed to buy the equipment.

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Espresso Brewer

Successful coffee bars us commercial grade espresso machines: most use a two group.  "Group" refers to the handle and brew basket.  One "group" is a machine with one handle; two "group" is a machine with two handles.  And yes, there are three and four group machines.  I don't recommend them.  If you need four espresso stations, buy two machines with two groups.  You have backup.

These machines require an investment in the $2,500 range for a single group, and the prices go sky high for Italian Imports that are as temperamental as Gina Lolibrigita in some of her movies.  A good solid two group machine from Grindmaster is fine.  $3,900 plus or minus with installation and training included.  Click on Grindmaster and I will get you a brochure.

There are many lower volume, home pump machines on the market and some stores use them.  Some in the open some in the backroom.  The backroom is where they belong, because they make a statement to your customers.  "Not serious about espresso".

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Espresso Grinder

While I actually opened my first coffee store with the espresso machine and no espresso grinder, I purchased the espresso grinder within a month.  $675 for a Grindmaster Grinder.  The issue here is one or two.  One for your normal espresso, and one for Decaf.  And volume.  If you have two people pulling (the term for dispensing coffee from the espresso grinder - you pull a lever to drop the coffee into the basket) then you need two Grinders.

The Decaf Grinder is a nice add-on if you have the money.  But be certain you have fresh coffee in the grinder.  I can not tell you how many times I have seen decaf espresso grinders with stale coffee.  The demand for decaf espresso is not as high as one might think.

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Espresso Accessories

Bang Boxes, thermometers, stainless pitchers, shot glasses, tampers, wire brushes, rubber gaskets (these you will come to hate with all your passion) are all available and you will need them.  $200 will cover this.

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Coffee Brewer

How many cups a day, and how many pots per day.  Figure 50 cups to a pound.  Generally, coffee people talk in pots, 64 ounces of water.  A cup can be anywhere from 4 or 5 ounces in a restaurant cup to 17 ounces in a 20 ounce cup.  

I always had back up, so I always had at least two brewers.  Low volume: pour over machines $250.  High volume: plumbed in automatic brewers, $550.  Really high volume (this could be for a short time, like at 7AM at a train station): Shuttle Brewers, $1,300 and up.

Pour over means you pour a pot of water in the machine to get a pot of coffee out.  There is a reservoir that is always kept to temperature (around 200 degrees).  Pouring the water in forces the water out through the brew basket.  The brew basket contains the ground coffee, flat and even in the basket.

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Coffee Grinders

Why Grind?  Good question.  The Barnes and Nobel store does not grind.  They receive ground coffee from their supplier, frequently.  The rule of thumb is "The closer to the roast, the fresher the coffee".  This means whole bean coffee is likely fresher than ground coffee (the reason this is true is that ground coffee exposes much more surface area to the staling air).  So you grind as you need.  We ground in the morning and kept filters filled with the proper amount of coffee (2.25 to 3 ounces per pot) in Tupper ware containers under the coffee brewer (fast and easy under pressure).

This is a volume, space and money decision.

If you get grinders, and I recommend you invest in grinders, then get two.  One for non flavored coffee (never, never, never, put flavors in the straight grinder: your customer will, on Sunday morning while reading the paper, think to herself "now where did this hazelnut come from?"  You don't want this to happen to you, or your customer.) Red for flavors, Black for straights.

They come in one, two and three pound, red or black, normal or very high speed.  Normal means $620, very high speed means $2,000.  Normal is what everyone uses.  With some exceptions.  Remember its Showtime, so if you can afford to have a high speed German grinder, by all means buy one.  Bunn and Grindmaster are the major suppliers.  Both have good repair facilities.

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Coffee Accessories

Pots for flavors, straights.  Brew baskets.  Filters.  Tupper ware containers.  Scales ($400).  Bags (Tin tie $.15 each).  Scoops.  Soon I will put another page out here with a more complete list to help you stay organized.

Air Pots: Definitely.  Brew into and use air pots.  They are accepted and they keep the coffee fresh and hot.

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Bulk Beans

Space, money (for displays and space) and statement.  Bulk beans say you are serious about coffee.  Displays range from mason jars ($8.99) to brass plated stainless steel 25 pound wall mounted bins ($400).  Five of the latter and 95 of the former make a great statement.  Scales and scoops, and bin tag labels uniformly done are part of this process.  I always urge our customers to sell bulk beans.  You can do this set up in 12 lineal feet of display.

The more you show, the more you sell.

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Prepackaged Coffee

Frac packs.  Not Sinatra.  Coffee.  Frac packs, or, fractional's, are generally used to open and brew coffee.  They also come in gift boxes for ease of packaging.

Gusseted bags are generally used for resale and come in 2 oz, 8 oz., 12 oz. and 1 pound.  12 oz is the most common as you will be able to get the one pound price for the 12 ounces.

Some have a one way valve which lets the aroma (a gas) escape to prevent breakage.

Prepackaged, vacuum packed coffee will last longer and give you a chance to test items and flavors.  I was never one for testing the water.  A big toe in the water is a sign of timidity and uncertainty.  Brew your mistakes.  Don't be afraid to make a mistake.  Everyone does, brew it.  You may not be right, but never doubt yourself.

Vacuum packing gives people the idea and retailers the excuse to keep things around for a long time.  Don't do it.  Coffee starts staling as soon as it comes out of the roaster and there is no such thing as a vacuum in this business.  Why the one way valve?  To let the gas (great aroma) escape.  What is this process?  Staling.  While ok for the short run, turnover of inventory is critical to success, customer loyalty, customer satisfaction and ultimately the car mortgage and car payment.

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