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Here is how to make money in coffee.

How Many Flavors or Titles

I urge you to bring in hundreds.  Even in coffee bars and cafe's where the drink in your primary product you will add to your average ticket and give your customer another reason to keep coming back if you have the beans.
If you use mason jars each display jar will cost you say $9.  If you have 200 coffees or titles, then your investment in displays is $1,800.  If you purchase five pounds of each flavor you have 1,000 pounds (200 titles times 5 pounds each)  Your total investment in beans,  the prime product you are selling (lots of if you implement this strategy) is only $5,800.  And you can keep this down by buying say 3 pounds each of decafs.  If you go for 100 coffees, your investment is only $2,900.
You have to do this.  The more you show, the more you sell.
Customers come in looking for variety and value.  You will have more than most stores and this means you pack value.  Your customers will come back.  Add a new flavor or origin or organic or fair trade coffee each time you order.  Your added investment is only $9 for the jar and 5 pounds of coffee at say $4.50 per pound or $31.50 addition to inventory.

Roaster Selection

Case History

You can't have more beans than you need.  I started a store in November 1990 with two four foot display's with five shelves each.  Each shelf contained 6 to 8 mason jars, so we started with 70 coffees (five shelves times two units equals 10 shelves with an average of 7 jars per shelf). 

In January I added two more four foot displays and in a few months after that I added two more.  In the end we had over 300 "titles".  I sold a lot of beans.

I sold by the 1/4 pound, by the 1/2 pound and by the pound in tin tie bags that our staff served.  We keep small jars of decaf's, larger jars of popular flavors.  We had some acrylic bins of straights.

We used mason jars that held between 2.75 pounds and 3.5 pounds and we kept the excess stock in alphabetical order under counter directly below the displays.  

A customer would ask for a specific coffee, we would grab the jar, use a small scoop to get enough in the bags so it would stand on its own on the scale and then we would pour from the jar directly into the bag.  Easy and fast.

As soon as the bag was complete we would put it in the grinder and as the coffee was grinding we would make entries in the customer club file.

We always asked if the customer was in the club.  If they were not we would have them fill out a 3 x 5 card with their name, address and telephone number.  Today we would get the e-mail.  We would then record in the file which coffee the customer ordered.  

Latter, we were up to over 6,000 names in the club file and still doing in semi-manually.  So we stopped recording the flavors.  I would make every possible effort to record flavors in a retrievable format today and use it in my promotion plans.  You know, this month we have your favorite coffee on sale kind of things.

We kept the special's or new offerings in mason jars slightly open on the counter next to the register.  We brewed these coffees and would sample in 1 oz portion cups (yes, we served hot stuff in these cups because it was a small amount).

Displays & Mason Jars

Displays: We built our own four foot units out of 10 and 12" pine boards, unstained.  We used inexpensive paneling behind the units and covered some back in burlap that we purchased in roll of 100 yards at the local landscape supply store.  We used lots of the burlap to cover tables, create displays and so on.  If it got dirty we threw it away and redid the display.

Cut two side boards eight foot long.  Cut two four footers and attach one to both the top and bottom of the two sides.  Then fill in with shelves.  At the 30 inch point put in a two foot deep piece of plywood and run legs from the front of the plywood to the floor.  Surround this counter top with burlap to the floor and keep your extra stock behind the burlap.  Fill in the shelving using pegs or some other moveable method from your hardware store.  Build one or two units a day and you are done in a week.  Cost is probably $150 each.  

We also had a local seamstress sew us fitted green table clothes so we always had them available for new displays.  This saved a tremendous amount of money over six years as the mall rented them at $40 each use.

Mason Jars: You can see them, right.  Tight fitting clamped top with a rubber seal.  The sizes come in 1 or 2 liter, and 3, 4 or 5 liter.  The jars cost between $5 and $9.

Buy 100 and your investment is tops $900.  200 jars will require $1,800 tops. 

Compare them to acrylics at $40 per unit.  I like them because they were easy to clean, showed off the coffee, were easy to label uniformly and looked good.  We broke one a year and only once in six years did one break on its own.  Compare this to the scratching, fogging and staining of acrylics.

And they are easy and safe to display.  All you need is a few pine boards and some burlap.

Mason Jars - More Information

Promoting New Flavors

Simple.  Handouts, e-mail, telephone to your club members, mail cards to unreachable people.  Best and most effective way is to keep a mason jar for each of two flavors, one on either side of the register so you can talk about it as you ring people up. Leave the jars open a bit so the aroma sneaks out.  You can't miss.  This is definitely the way to do Christmas Blend and Pumpkin Spice in November and Eggnog in December.  Your customers will love it and so will your spouse. 


See also clubs.  You have to do this.  Sounds like trouble but it is a key source of water for your well.  Find a good database system and be able to window back and forth from your register system.  Fill it in with names, addresses, e-mail and fax and phone numbers, and ... what your customers are purchasing.  The use this information to promote to your customers what they like and buy.  They will like you for doing it and appreciate the service.

This is especially true if someone comes in to buy a gift for one of your customers.  Ask the person who is buying the gift who it is for: check your files for the recipient.  If you can tell the buyer what flavors the person loves you will score hundreds of points.  And this person will tell others about your service.  Your legend is growing.  This is good.  And good for business. 

Page TopDrinks:

Sip & Spit: We do this every day in our tasting room.  The entire plant stops work and everyone sits and tastes the day's coffee.  Opinions are sort and sometimes recorded.  Our purpose is to train the pallet of everyone in the business and to have a little fun.

So come sit, and ... expel the coffee.  This refers to the time honored method of coffee tasting, identical in method to wine tasting.  The expelling is done to keep the pallet clear for the next batch.

You can use tasting spoons and coffee crusted in tasting cups or you can do it from air pots.  It depend upon your objective.  To taste for quality of inbound green or delivered green, one would use the sample roaster, grind a 7 gram portion, place it in the tasting cup and pour 200 degree water into the cup.  The crust would be broken and the aroma inhaled strongly.  Then the cup is cooled, and the crust is clear with the tasting spoon.  Then take a spoon full and with a burst of energy, slurp as loud and fast as you can making sure the coffee covers your tongue.  This will ensure that the true flavor is experienced.  Then expel the sample.

In short, sit and spit. (Sorry Ted and George).

More Info Coming Soon: Coffee, Hot Non-Coffee Drinks, Cold Drinks, Espresso Based, Food, Gifts


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