NORMAL ARCHIVE

A mobile coffee business. Should you start one?

This year has not quite planned out how we expected, right? But all is not lost. If your plans to open a coffee shop were rudely haulted due to this pandemic, have you considered the simpler option of starting a mobile coffee business instead?

As we move into the last quarter of this year, it’s hard to imagine what else 2020 will throw at us, but one thing we know for sure, Brexit is coming and it’s a whole big dollop of more unknown.

With so much uncertainty, it’s hard to know what the right response is, but what I do know, you need to be fighting against the tide to ensure your hopes and dreams are not washed away.

calming waves on ths sea at dusk
Don’t let your plans get washed away

That is not to say you should plough ahead with the same plans you had at the beginning of the year. A lot has changed, and it is absolutely prudent to take stock and adapt to our new world.

With the furlough scheme ending in October and the cuts to VAT finishing early next year, and the constant threat of a potential second wave, only then will we know the true cost of this pandemic on our hospitality industry. That doesn’t mean there are not good opportunities out there for the tenacious, the brave and the financially astute.

So, what plans did you have for 2020? With the UK’s booming and still growing coffee scene, you may have been thinking to get a slice of the pie. Whether that was starting your first coffee shop or looking down the micro-roastery route, both these options, if done well, are great businesses to have.

Although things look very different today, people’s love of coffee has shone through. When lockdown was lifted on July 4th, the most popular places to visit after seeing family and friends, were coffee shops.

So, if that dream is still alive, one area that I believe is worth a lot of consideration is a mobile coffee business. In fact, there are countless of now established cafes and coffee roasteries that started their journey this way.

mobile coffee caravan with white la marzocco espresso machine bread basket and coffee flask.
A beautiful example of a mobile coffee set-up

Obviously, we have the unreliable British weather to contend with, but weather aside, in this Covid World, I believe businesses should be adapting to prioritise outdoor service.

You only have to look to the countryside pubs with their beautiful beer gardens doing so well this summer, to understand that we all feel safer being outside right now. So why not propose the perfect solution to these consumer buying habits and start a pop up or mobile coffee business?

There are a lot of positives to consider. The much lower overheads, both at start-up level and on-going. Fewer staff needed and greater flexibility in your location – in fact, not being tied to a physical space longer-term allows you to experiment with your audience and your offer, adapting both to maximise your turnover.

In a recent survey carried out by The Allegra Group, 34% of people contacted said they still felt unsafe visiting a coffee shop and 93% said social distancing was their preferred method of mitigating the risk of catching coronavirus.

It is no surprise. For 5 months we were told it was not safe to go out. It takes 3 months to learn a new habit, so we have had more than enough practice to learn that going out and socialising as we once did, is still not safe. That is going to take quite some time to undo, especially without the safety-net of a vaccine.

two people with hands holding coffee cups in a cafe
Coffee and community

Bring the people what they want.

You will no doubt have seen the rise in community focus. People are interested in where they live again. Local councils and organisations are pushing for more pedestrianised areas to encourage consumers to come back to restaurants, pubs and cafes, but sitting outside.

I have no doubt that outdoor markets will be back better than before – with a focus on local, independent stalls. Food and drink were a huge source of stress relief and happiness during lockdown. More and more people are understanding what great coffee is and where to buy it online, but they still miss buying a beautifully crafted coffee, made by a talented and friendly barista. We are social creatures after all – we still crave conversation and community.

With mobile coffee set-ups there are a number of things that you will have to take into consideration that you wouldn’t normally have to – power and water solutions being the main ones.

Your coffee bar set-up is another – will you be serving out the back or from inside? Not forgetting the weather again, I mean its Britain. It is going to rain and it will be cold in the winter, but where’s your sense of adventure? If you have not experienced the challenge of dosing ground coffee in the wind, you haven’t lived.  

coffee grinder and portafilter with fresh ground coffee in basket
Ground coffee perfection

There are of course still risks involved in any new venture, but why not test the water with a lower risk venture such as a mobile unit? With endless options for your vehicle and set-up, you can truly customize your business to suit your budget.

Is mobile for you?

If you focus on the coffee and the service, you will be setting up for success. Just because it is a mobile coffee shop does not mean you cut back on those crucial elements. Treat this mobile coffee business as seriously as you would a highstreet café.

If you’re just Starting Out, The Coffee Consultancy can help you. We would love to hear about your plans and how we can make them a reality.

Contact Louise today.

Cow or Plant?

I am sure many of you have decided to use this January, and the start of the new decade, to try and do something good for ourselves and the planet. I have dived into Dry January and really enjoying the not drinking thing. I hope to continue beyond January (How I will feel come springtime is a different matter. There is nothing I enjoy more than drinking a pint outside in the springtime sunshine). Our household is also consciously eating a mainly vegetarian diet. It is not exclusively any particular diet; vegetarian, flexitarian, pescatarian or even Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian… just, we are consciously eating less meat. I admire those who have started a mainly vegan diet, as they are doing what I cannot.

When it comes to dairy milk alternatives in the coffee world we are spoiled for choice. Some definitely work better than others, both in terms of flavour, texture and pouring ability. With our desire to drink and eat less dairy, we need to ensure our goals and desires to do good are matching up to our buying habits. There is a hell of a lot of information out there, which prove and disprove both arguments (for and against dairy milk), so it’s hard to get it right. The most important thing here is to be kind to each other’s choice and to acknowledge that we may have got it wrong when new scientific evidence is published and public opinions change.

There is no getting away from it. Our dairy farming practices, globally, are having a significant negative impact on the environment. What mass-farming practices don’t? Animal or plant based. Thankfully in the UK, we have far better farming conditions for cows than America, but there is no escaping the huge environment toll of feeding and watering cows. Add into the mix the land needed to graze and milk the cows, the methane emissions, and the animal welfare and ethical issues associated with large scale dairy farming, then the case is certainly stacked against using milk from our big-eyed friends.

That being said, there are certainly some fantastic small-scale dairy farms that are producing some fantastic milk, cheese, yogurt and kefir. These farms put the welfare of their cattle at the forefront of their business model and the results are fantastic.

The UK Coffee Scene has seen a significant amount of coffee shops using these types of dairy farms. Estate Dairy, Northiam Dairy and Brades Farm are a few examples that are all well positioned in different parts of the country to be able to provide their local cafes with exceptional quality milk.

When it comes to non-dairy milks, cafes and coffee shops need to offer customers some high-quality options – but they needn’t go overboard. Having one nut and one plant-based option available in my opinion is enough. The standard offer in most cafes in the UK seems to be Almond, Oat and Soya.

There are a lot on discussions about the most sustainable non-dairy option, but I think the best place to start is to think about where your alternative comes from? Oats can be grown here in Europe, so it makes sense to drink oat milk over almond, as most almonds are grown in California or parts of Australia. Soya has a bad rep these days and considering what is happening to the Amazon Rainforest and beyond, you can understand why. There are also countless pseudo-scientific articles, without solid research, saying soya is bad for our health. It’s all a bit of a minefield.

Here’s my advice for cafes…

1. Ensure you are using an independent, local dairy farm, that prioritises animal welfare and quality over price. Build the small increase of costs into your overall pricing strategy. Your coffees will look and taste beautiful.

2. Pick at least one nut-based and plant-based alternative to cater for your customers. Do your research into what is the most sustainable, focusing on all-natural ingredients and low sugar content. To be able to pour latte art, you will need to look at barista specific products. Rude Health, Oatly and Minor Figures are firm favourites in the UK. Look at Rebel Kitchen too. They focus on high quality ingredients that compliment coffee, but it is more expensive.

3. If you can, make your own nut-milks. You will have greater control over where the produce comes from (almonds from Spain or Italy over America for example). Making your own will also give you a higher overall % of nut content. Most off the shelf nut milks contain only 2%.

4. Always have fantastic brewed coffees available at all times. Be it batch brew or hand-brews. Only a handful of customers add milk to filter coffee, as it is already naturally beautiful and sweet.

5. Ensure all baristas are using the correct amount of milk for each beverage to minimise waste. Make this part of their training. Your profits will go up and you will be saving the planet at the same time.

6. If you can, invest in suitable bar-top milk dispensing equipment. There are several options out there offering solutions for cafes. They offer correct dosing at the same time as improving workflow and speed of service. Having one will also ensure your plastic waste reduces, as the milk needs to be in a gallon pergal – so its a win win.

There is so much choice out there and it’s important to make the correct choice for your business and your budget. If you are looking for some advice on how to ensure you make the right choices, please get in touch to see how The Coffee Consultancy can help.

Happy brewing.

#coffee #alternativemilks #vegan #veganuary #sustainabilty #cafes #coffeeshops #baristas #dairy #nondairy #rudehealth #minorfigures #oatly #rebelkitchen #thecoffeeconsultancy #estatedairy #northiamdairy #bradesfarm #startups

Company culture and the success of your new business.

There is so much to think about when starting your coffee shop business, or any business for that matter, that it’s easy to overlook vital areas in the planning and pre-launch stages. A crucial element that is often overlooked is that of culture.

Your business is a representation of you. It is vital that you understand what culture you want to instil in your business, to be able to hire the best staff that suit your environment and that attracts the customers you want. To create a business that you are proud of and represents you and your brand.

So, you’ve already designed your space. You’ve researched the neighbourhood. You’ve selected your coffee partner. You know what equipment you want to buy. You know what you like and what is important to you. You know why you have started this journey to open your first coffee shop. What have I missed?

Culture is your ethos, your environment, your staff, your style, your coffee programme, your training programme, your staff’s development and training plans, your management style, your service style, your staff’s uniform or style guide, your rewards and benefits, your payment structure. You must know what you are offering before you start looking and hiring staff. You must be clear from the outset otherwise you lose the opportunity to build strong, happy and lasting staff relationships.

The best place to start is the look and feel of your coffee shop. Are you going for comfortable and relaxed? Industrial and striped back? Community focused or student/work focused?

Who is your ideal customer and what do they look like? Are they young and trendy or more corporate? Do you want to have a space for families? Is it inner city or a residential neighbourhood?

Start answering these questions and you will begin to understand what culture and style you need to foster in your organisation to be successful in your chosen location. You will then be able to find the right people to fit your business. From there you can start really building your brand and shouting about it.

Some examples to consider could be:

Are you opening in a neighbourhood? If so, your cafe will need to benefit the local community. Your culture will need to focus on friendly, chatty staff who enjoy getting to know regulars. Your space will need to accommodate families and be welcoming to mums and babies. Encourage local residents to use the space to host events and if you have creative members of staff, make sure they are encouraged to take on the planning and hosting of events.

If you are opening in a downtown city centre location, then you should consider prioritising fast and efficient service above all. Hire people that also prioritise this more formal style of service, over the more relaxed. The space and furniture will need to reflect this faster pace, so ensure you maximise seating, have great Wi-Fi and lots of charging points.

Wherever you decide to open your shop, you must always ensure you understand the impression you want to make to prospective customers and staff. The best way to do this is to write your Company Handbook. This will help you really focus on your style and allow you to confidently communicate this to your prospective staff. It will also let you build a suitable team with the right skills and attributes to thrive in your business.

There is so much to organise when opening a new coffee shop. If you are looking for additional support, we specialise in project managing new cafe launches. We help with equipment selection and installation, menu development and coffee programme creations – freeing up your time to focus on your company’s culture and nailing hiring the right staff. Should you need help in these areas as well, don’t worry, we cover those too.

Get in touch to see how we can help.

#thecoffeeconsultancy #newbusiness #coffee #startup #culture #style #hospitalityconsultant #career #staff #development #happiness #entrepreneur #support

Covid 19 got you working at home?

I am in the process of writing a more thoughtful blog post soon about the pandemic and how it is affecting hospitality businesses and workers. I also want to share some amazing stories of innovation and heart warming community spirit. I’m just compliing a list of useful links before posting. Keep and eye out.

Until then, I thought I might try and be of use to those of you who are now having to work from home and who are in need of a tasty cup of coffee.

Download my simple guide below. Happy brewing, guys 🙂

Future proofing your business, today

I won’t lie, I have found these past few weeks very difficult. As a Consultant, who works with businesses to help open new cafes or improve existing ones, I have been adrift as to what I can offer clients right now that is of benefit and comfort to them. Our livelihoods have been put indefinitely on hold, with no idea of when things might return to some sense of normal. It is hard to plan with such uncertainty.

There are, however, glimmers of hope that business owners can take advantage of, but certainly and sadly there will be businesses that won’t be able to ride this out. I hope as I am writing this, that grants and loans to cover rent and business costs will have been applied for and making their way to bank accounts and staff have been kept on and furloughed. Once the initial financial worries have been alleviated, this then leaves headspace to start proofing your business for the new world we will be living in after lockdown. Now is the time to get busy with analysing your business and making positive changes that will rejuvenate both your business and your head.

Time

If you have found yourself with more free time during this crisis, then you are fortunate and can use this new found space to get to grips with your existing business. Now is the time to really look at your accounts and analyse your profit and loss. Really get to grips with your staffing costs, your running costs, your wastage costs and your pricing structure. Understanding where your business can run more efficiently and with less waste. This will help hugely in the months to come.

Housework and DIY

If you run a busy cafe, finding a suitable time to properly deep clean and fix all those little nicks is a challenge. Now is that time. Get your scrubbers and tools and really give your premises a makeover. Obviously finding certain supplies might be a challenge and you will most likely be working on your own, unless your business partner happens to also be your house partner, but this is an enviable time to get to grips with these little things. It might also help your head and keep the anxiety at bay.

This is also the perfect time to tidy up your systems. Go through your POS and think about ways to improve the layout for efficiency and speed. What about the back end? What can you improve? Is your stock taking system optimised? What about rotas and timesheets? Do you have a Company Handbook and full job descriptions for all positions? All these important jobs and requirements that often get pushed to the bottom of the list because service comes first.

Training

What training can you take advantage of right now? I am a Barista Hustle Coach, providing the practical element of training for their Barista One course. In lieu of being able to attend any sort of practical training, why not take advantage of their online courses, free for 14 days. Sign yourself and your team up. You can cancel at any time, but if you can afford to subscribe it will provide you with some fantastic resources and keep your staff happy and occupied. It will obviously aid your service when you open back up. Should you wish to take the certifications in the future, please get in touch with me to arrange a training and assessment day for you and your team. For further information, please follow these links:

https://www.baristahustle.com/ https://www.baristahustle.com/find-a-coach/coaching-profile-uk-lou-webster/

Menu Development

I am sure this situation will have changed yours and your customer’s point of view. Our states of minds have been altered and as such, our shopping and buying habits. What is most important to us has been brought sharply into focus. Health and wellbeing are at the forefront, as is our local community. How does your menu meet these new demands? What can you bring in or change that is more local, healthy and sustainable? Focus on quality over quantity.

Staff Wellbeing

How are your staff? Are they safe, healthy and well? A place of work usually provides a source of community and friendship for many. That has been taken away now. Is there are a way you can utilise video sharing platforms like Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams for a team get-to-gether? Make it fun and not mandatory.

Ensure your staff know you care and keep them engaged with the business.

Community focus

Find ways you can continue to engage with your local community. Do you already have a newsletter and a mailing list? If you do, fantastic. Keep in touch with your customers, share your news and link up with other local businesses and share what you can about what is happening in your local community. If you don’t, utilise your social channels. Start conversations on Facebook and Instagram – tag other businesses and get a conversation going. Find out how your customers are and what they’re looking forward to when all this is over. Do some market research to help shape your offer for the future.

And now…

If you have found this article helpful in anyway, I’d love to hear from you. As you can imagine, my business, like so many others have been negatively impacted by Covid 19 and I am trying to develop my consultancy services to be of best use and financially viable for all. I want to reach out to start conversations with business owners and prospectus business owners to hear how you are coping during this crisis and what support you need. With this in mind, please book a call with me to chat through your concerns and what help you need.

This is a free conversation with no obligation, for us to talk and for me to listen and give some initial guidance. If I can assist you further, this is the perfect opportunity to discuss how I can remotely support you and your business during Lockdown and beyond. For details of how I work and to download my service guide, please see here.

Stay safe and stay well and I look forward to being able to sit around a table and share a moment over a delicious cup of coffee soon.

#coffee #coffeeshops #cafe #hospitality #coronavirus #lockdown #businesssupport #consultancy #stepsforsuccess #hope #covid19 #coffeeoftheday #barista #training #future #business