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I would like to open an artisan coffee shop in the next three to five years, I have a few ideas which will set it apart from other specialty shops. However, when coming up with a business model, how should an owner weigh the product that is being served to its customers? Is it more about the experience and atmosphere and quality of the product? I have zero background in business modelling or development, but would like to get a few pointers in terms of moving forward with this.

  • Welcome to Coffee SE, please feel free to take the tour. – MTSan Apr 8 '16 at 9:24
  • Make it a relaxing place, with couches and other comfortable seats, where people can meet and chat and have a good time, and you'll be all set! Some good coffee at a decent price will help too, of course. – Tobia Apr 11 '16 at 8:16
  • I guess what I was trying to say is that today there's a definite lack of times and places to meet new people in a relaxed way, if you exclude activities that are not entirely wholesome (clubbing, drinking, gambling…) or that are religion-specific. If you can fill such a void in the local community where you will open your shop, you should be all set. – Tobia Apr 11 '16 at 8:41
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You're going to have to understand the market of the local area of where you intend to have your coffee shop. When starting out, I highly doubt people from miles away would travel just to receive a cup of coffee from your shop. So before you've been able to establish a brand you'll need to start somewhere, and that is providing for the local community.

An unfortunate observation of mine is that it seems as though there is a majority of people who do not actually know what a good cup of coffee is like nor do they care; it's all about the caffeine fix or the environment of the shop itself. Very few people will be extreme critics of the quality of your coffee and depending on where you wish to be located you may be targeting the busy commuter that pops in to get his fix, or the chill artist that wants a relaxing environment.

Target your local area and find out what people like and what ideal direction you want your coffee shop to be going in i.e. do you want to open more stores elsewhere? Do you want to become a brand that also roasts it's own coffee and makes blends? Know what direction you want to go in should help mold what your coffee shop evolves into and what type of customer you will target.

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As far as the actual coffee end of matters (I have no background in behind-the-scenes business management, etc.), there are a few things to take into consideration:

  1. Research your demographic. Younger? They more than like prefer espresso based milk drinks akin to Starbucks, other chain coffee shops. Middle/to older? They probably are a blend of esp.based and brewed coffee with food items. Survey and poll people you know and have connections with if any venture of this sort would be a hit or a miss for a community.
  2. Less is more (usually). Provide fewer option with more willingness to simply make drinks to order. Let the guests know that the menu is only a suggestion and a price guide. Have the standard staples (Espresso, Latte, Cappuccino, Cafe au Lait, Cafe Americano) add in some specialized espresso drinks (Cortado, Affogato, Espresso Macchiato, Latte Macchiato) and a comfortable array of brewed coffees (a dark roasted Mocha/Java blend, a medium roasted house blend, and a few single origin coffees: Kenyan AB, Sumatran Mandehling, Ethiopian Sidamo, Guatamalan Huehuetenango, etc.) prepared a few different ways ('ol reliable auto drip with Zojirushi style urns, pourover, French press, etc.). At the end of the day, just let your customers know that with your knowledge, you can get them what they want if they inform you of a few specific preferences. All the minutiae don't matter once you've overcome that barrier.
  3. Invest. Don't cheap out on grinders or 'spro machines or sourced coffees. Also don't overspend. See how much projected traffic you'd be taking in to see whether a 1, 2, 3, 4 group espresso machine is necessary for 100-200-300 drinks a day.
  4. Talk to experienced folks. Restauranteurs, foodies, snobs, baristas, etc. Do your homework and see what works and what doesn't.

All the rest is good business sense and a lot of perseverance. I can't give you advice on these things due to my lack of experience in management, but I would wish you luck.

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