May 30, 2015

5 Golden Rules for Opening Your Own Coffee Shop?


So you’ve decided to open your own coffee shop? And I assume not just anywhere in the world, but in a country that is producing coffee? Opening a shop in a producing country can be an incredible experience but also presents its own set of challenges that are unique to that fact that you are quite possibly no longer living in your home country.

Spanish Version: 5 Reglas de Oro para Abrir Tu Propia Tienda de Café de Especialidad

Today I’m going to give you five simple tips that will help you set-up your shop abroad, in any country and not just a coffee producing nation.

guatemala specialty coffee shop

Starting your own shop can be a thrilling experience but doing so in a producing country can present a unique set of challenges.

Learn the Language

If you’re going to a producing country to open your shop you most likely don’t speak the local language. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this point as your ability to communicate could arguably be the most important aspect. You will have the local staff who you’ll have to communicate with and most importantly you will need to talk to and engage with your customers as well.

The amount of cultural learning that occurs while picking up a language is crucial to being able to provide excellent service to your local customers as the language you speak even impacts the way you view the world. I personally studied in a language school for nine weeks and had lived in the country for almost two years before I opened my shop. I’m not saying you have to live in country for that amount of time beforehand, but it wouldn’t hurt. It would in fact allow you to really dive into the culture, learn the language and get comfortable before you decide to invest a lot of money into your shop.

Spanish classes specialty coffee

Just a grab a coffee and practice the local lingo.

Get a Trained Barista

This is true in a producing country as it is anywhere in the world. Make sure you get a fully trained barista and if you’re going to serve food then take a cooking class! Maybe you’re not planning on being the one behind the bar preparing the drinks, maybe you’ll just be roasting or baking pastries, but any type of cross-training that you can do will allows you to provide better service to your customer and improves their overall experience in store. In addition, I’ve found that the more I learn about the flavors of coffee and espresso, the more I begin to sense and expect a lot more flavor and better presentation out of the food.

barista specialty coffee producer

Get a trained barista! Credit: @smedleyshots

Find a Good Quality Coffee Source

You need to trust and build a good relationship with your coffee source. In a coffee producing country there should be no shortage of people that are planting, processing and selling coffee. However, it can be difficult to find honest, trustworthy people who have a good product. Take your time whilst you’re still learning the language to meet people and ask around for reputable sources. I personally can confess to having rushed into a relationship with a roaster who then proceeded to short me 40 grams of coffee every bag that he sold me until I happened to throw one on the scale one day. Please don’t repeat my mistake, find quality suppliers and then trust, but verify everything.

An old scale

A good scale can always come in handy. Trust but verify. Credit:

SEE ALSO: Weekly Extraction: Catering To Coffee Customers In Rural Guatemala

Ask a Lot of Questions

When you are starting your business you will be required to deal with a good amount of paperwork, and many times in producing countries, they are not equipped to be efficient or knowledgeable to answer all your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask more than one person about a particular rule, law, application form or even which bus to take because it could save you a great deal of money and headache. Don’t make the mistake of failing to ask some important questions because taking a cheaper bus that puts you in the murder Capital of the world at night might not be a great idea – just ask for advice.

Twenty questions show, 5 people smiling

Ask questions about everything – from local laws to espresso distributors.

Enjoy the Process

The process is a lot of fun dreaming, designing and finally seeing all your work come to reality! Make the most of the fact that you are in a coffee producing country and go see the coffee process from start to finish. Make relationships with farmers and enjoy educating locals about how to fully enjoy the awesome beverages so many of them produce, but don’t often know how to properly prepare!

Coffee beans being sorted and pulped

Enjoy the PROCESS of opening specialty shop!

Article edited by N. Bhatt.

Perfect Daily Grind.