My journey into coffee began with a mobile operation so I have a historical fondness for such ventures and as I seem to receive requests for information fairly regular it seemed like an ideal topic for my newly formed Coffee Blog so here goes.
Having made the decision I wanted to get into coffee but lacking any real knowledge, experience or contacts it seemed the cheapest and most cost effective way of making the least amount of mistakes. While I was not exactly sure what to do, I did however know exactly what not to do and this was to serve bad coffee. That was a no brainer as this was the very reason I wanted to get involved……this was because I stood for 15 minutes the first day a Costas opened in my home town thinking my heart would not be broken. You can guess the outcome and rather than complain I decided at that very moment that someone had to do better than this …. The light came on and the rest is as they say is history. ( I love this day now)
Decision made and regardless of piaggio or trailer or truck or skateboard it seemed the first thing was to establish a relationship with a roaster to bridge the gap in my lack of skills. A dozen phone calls and 4 meetings, and 2 weeks later I had my roaster. Not the same as I have today but that another story!
With what I was going to serve in place the next step was to find location or multiple locations so at least I had a market place. I wanted to be mobile as the initial costs were low but concentrate efforts into sourcing a pitch or location which would be static to build regular customers, and also if I was planning to serve excellent coffee why the heck would I want to move around all the time was my thinking?. Finally if a decent business could be grown it could be used as a springboard to launch a coffee shop locally, and as and when the right location became available open a shop and hope some of the trade would migrate and capitalise on set up costs twice instead of once.
There are a myriad of companies, leasing agents and turnkey operation all wishing to help for a fee or percentage of your hard earned. While I am sure many successful people have taken advantage of such offers it was something that did not interest me. The main reason is some wanted a tie into specific suppliers of beans and products, which seemed a contradiction to my goals.
So the decision was what vehicle ? the piaggio 3 wheeler seemed to lack power from reports. The van conversion seemed too large and would be no good for shopping centres etc and a towed trailer might be ok but as I wanted to be static in a town centre did I actually need a vehicle other than for transport ??
Luckily for me our town centre had a kind of outdoor market facility which seemed to only be used during summer? A few meetings and I was given permission and a pitch. The pitch included a collapsible easy up tent and the part that made it real easy was my suggestion to use the preferred style of unit that all the other traders used… a Victorian Barrow !!!! a little bit of conversion , some stainless steel and we had our location and even better, cost next to nothing. Things were looking good.
The daily cost was quite high £44-00 but considering the retail shops around paid £60k a year on average for the same foot passengers It clarified my mind this was a good location.
The Next piece was the mechanics of setting up the business and a desire to understand exactly how to make coffee ……….
Part II to follow