The business of coffee is a big one. Let’s start with the numbers.
Coffee is the second most heavily traded commodity in the world (petroleum is number one). It is also world’s most popular beverage, with 400 billion cups consumed every year. It is a major cash crop with the largest portion (around a third) of it grown and processed in Brazil. In Brazil coffee employs over 5 million people.
Coffee trading involves the trading of coffee futures contracts. Coffee futures are standardized contracts where a future price is agreed upon between buyer and seller. Coffee is mainly traded on the New York and London futures markets and these markets therefore determine world coffee prices. Many variables affect the base price of green coffee. Factors such as weather, other markets, political conditions, and futures speculation cause world coffee prices to be extremely volatile.
The Pittsburgh market stacks up pretty well in terms of per capita consumption.
Pittsburghers definitely love their coffee. Pittsburgh supermarkets sell about 3.4 pounds of ground coffee per capita each year, more than those in any other big U.S. city, according to market research firm ACNielsen. As such, it is no surprise that coffee houses can be found in most Pittsburgh neighborhoods, from the requisite chains to really unique and interesting independent coffee cafes and shops.
Getting into the business of selling coffee involves some key factors.
1. You may have the best coffee in the world, but if the prospective customers can’t see you, or your access is not convenient, your chances of success will be greatly reduced. Some espresso bars gross $2000-$3000 a day, 70% of this revenue coming from espresso based drinks, and the owners of these establishments put in their pocket (or purse) about $25,000 a month in profits!
Location, Location, Location!!!
The locations for coffee shops with the best probability of success are, in order:
Next to colleges and universities, on a commercial walking street
Downtown business district, in a large office building
Neighborhood commercial walking streets
Heavy foot traffic tourist areas, with great visibility
Airports and large medical facilities (for carts and kiosks)
Inside shopping malls
2. You must provide really efficient service, your espresso must be also designed for speed and efficiency of service so your customers don’t have a long wait.
Coffee fanatics DON’T like to wait for their coffee.
3. You must know and be passionate about coffee. The CEO or the person responsible for the overall project must be an espresso based drink consumer himself or herself, and understands what a properly prepared drink should taste like. And to be really successful, you must make coffee drinks your main product, and from these, espresso based drinks should account for at least 50% of your total sales. In many of the most profitable and successful coffee bars, espresso based drinks account for over 65% of their total gross sales. Not tea, not cookies, COFFEE!
4.Selling Fair trade is really important and can be a great way to market your business!
Fair trade certified products come from all over the world, but share a common history. Farmers who grow fair trade products receive a fair price, and their communities and the environment benefit as well.Fair trade certified coffee directly supports a better life for farming families in the developing world through fair prices, community development and environmental stewardship. Fair trade farmers market their own harvests through direct, long-term contracts with international buyers, learning how to manage their businesses and compete in the global marketplace. Receiving a fair price for their harvest allows these farmers to invest in their families’ health care and education, reinvest in quality and protect the environment.
Here are a few Pittsburgh favorites, send me some of yours!
a. My neighborhood shop is Make Your Mark Artspace & Coffeehouse, a wonderful Point Breeze coffee shop serving fair trade coffee and products, and making the BEST cappuccino I have ever had! There’s a menu of pastries and vegetarian fare. There is a lovely backyard patio.
b. Tazza D’Oro is a European-style espresso bar a Highland Park neighborhood hotspot. Their coffee menu boasts a selection of single origin coffees from places as far as Kenya and Costa Rica. Tazza D’Oro now has a second location on Carnegie Mellon University’s campus.
c. Beehive Coffeehouse
One of the original Pittsburgh coffeehouses, Beehive on the South Side is still one of the favorites. It’s an artsy-type hangout, the coffee is top notch, and the Wi-Fi is free.
d. Coffee Tree Roasters and Crazy Mocha
Great local companies with several location each around Pittsburgh.
e. La Prima Espresso, an Italian style espresso bar in the Strip District, is a favorite as well. La Prima is known for its espresso and cappuccino, and also offers pastries and light lunches. La Prima roasts its own beans as well, and supplies coffee to many of the better Pittsburgh restaurants, as well as selling it retail at their stores and over the Internet.
Here are some lists of more coffee shops in Pittsburgh!
The history of coffee - fun facts!
Today, the idea of a coffee house usually brings to mind a cozy place that serves gourmet coffee and espresso drinks, with couches to lounge in while you sip. So how did the coffee house get its start?
The first record of a public place serving coffee dates back to 1475. Kiva Han was the name of the first coffee shop, located in the Turkish city of Constantinople (now Istanbul). Coffee was such an important item during that time period, that it was legal in Turkey for a woman to divorce her husband if he could not supply her with enough coffee. Turkish coffee was served strong, black and unfiltered, usually brewed in an ibrik. (You have to love this!)
To hear Rebecca Harris talk about the Business of Coffee on WESA FM 90.5 click on this link. http://wesa.fm/content/coffee-talk