MannaCafe Senior Member Joined: 7 Dec 2012 Posts: 2 Location: South Ga Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2012, 8:57pm Subject: I'm LOST!
Hey everyone! I'm a serious coffee lover and currently in the process of opening a restaurant. I'm building a coffee bar and want it be a focal point of what we do. Well, I have no experience other than my french press at home. Can anyone recommend equipment?
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 5,685 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Veneziano A1 Grinder: Many different commercial Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Milita, Bunn&Curtis... Roaster: Cast iron pan, gas burner
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2012, 9:24pm Subject: Re: I'm LOST!
Hi and welcome to the board
Please don't take this the wrong way but as you know, you are seriously in the weeds!
More than equipment, in business,you need a partner with your equipment, you will need solid advice from a local business that knows the water and has the connections to get and maintain coffee gear, you will need fresh coffee, not something from the wholsaler down the block.
Get out the yellow pages and seriously search for a coffee equipment supplier near you. You need the support when, and it is WHEN the equipment breaks down, you can not afford to not have someone at your fingertips who knows how to work on your equipment and has a supply of parts.
There is no one special brand, oh sure, we can give you our favorite equipment and there are several I can think of but they might not be available near you. You are going to need water filtration equipment, regulators, grinders, knockboxes, tampers, bar towels, glasses, cups etc. The most important part of the gear is the GRINDER and you are going to need several, at least two for your espresso setup and at least one if not two or three for drip, FP, bulk sales of coffee etc.
Like I said, we could give you names and models and you likely will get such advice from some members who have a good heart but no history of a business setup and what is need there. The best BEST advice is to link up with a professional supplier where you are.
Not only gear but you and your staff will need professional training, this is not something you can pick up overnight. There are classes out there and the ones aimed at business run from 3 days to a week costing $$$ per person. There are 4 pieces to the puzzle of great espresso, The bean, The grind, The machine and most important.... the HAND, or the skill of your operator(s)
Stratocaster Senior Member Joined: 15 Apr 2011 Posts: 12 Location: Port Elizabrth South Africa Expertise: Professional
Espresso: Breville 900d Grinder: San Marco Vac Pot: No Drip: No Roaster: No
Posted Sat Dec 8, 2012, 2:27am Subject: Re: I'm LOST!
Looks like NobbyR and Callblacksmith have got it covered, as for what machine to use, In terms of excellence it's like a horse race, there are many manufacturers out there employing highly skilled and knowledegable design engineers and, sometimes, one manufacturer is ahead of the pack then another but, whatever you do, don't get stuck with the only machine of one type in town, local support is important and you don't want downtime while waiting for parts. Cruise around town, take note of what make of new machines other guys are using. Just a few miscellaneous tips - 1/ buy a machine size suited to the scale of your operation, you don't want a 4 group power guzzler if you've only got half a dozen tables. 2/ If buying second hand find an experienced tech to give it a once over. As a rough guide to the vintage of a machine, later machines have a temperature control system called PID, earlier machines use a pressurestat. 3/ When getting installed make sure the installer includes a suitable filtration system for your quality of water considering the sediment size, chlorine content and TDS, this last one is important ! Calcium Carbonate is the arch enemy of espresso machines and can cost you Molto Dinero.
Do you have any restaurant experience? Do you have a business plan? Does it go out five years? How's your financing? Are you prepared to lose money for the first year? What are you looking at in terms of your food costs? (etc., etc., etc.)
I'm building a coffee bar and want it be a focal point of what we do. Well, I have no experience other than my french press at home. Can anyone recommend equipment?
Do you have experience making other methods of coffee (besides press) outside of your home? What sort of experience DO you have with making coffee outside your home?
Are you opening up a café? an espresso bar? or are you opening up a restaurant that also serves coffee/espresso? There is a BIG difference!
In terms of equipment, find out who in your area fixes/repairs equipment when it breaks down. Talk with that company. Find out what BRANDS of equipment they repair. Find out what sort of service contract they offer. Find out if they also sell or lease equipment.
You can come here are ask what we (collectively) think of Brand X versus Brand Y . . . but whatever you get, you want -- first and foremost -- to make sure you can get it serviced!
MannaCafe Senior Member Joined: 7 Dec 2012 Posts: 2 Location: South Ga Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Sun Dec 9, 2012, 2:55pm Subject: Re: I'm LOST!
Ok, so my first post made me sound incompetent. I appreciate all the advice. I guess I need to clear a few things up. I am opening a restaurant with a coffee bar. I live in a small town where the best cup of coffee you can get is from McDonald's. I do have a business plan, and I do have financing. The renovation on my spot is actually almost complete and I am beginning to purchase all of my kitchen equipment, as well as stocking the coffee bar and getting that equipment. That's how I ended up here, searching for equipment and researching. I figured "what better of a place to ask for advice than a forum full of coffee experts. I know what I am looking for.. for the most part. I just have no clue as to who makes a great machine.
To answer a few of the questions mentioned: - There is nobody locally that can service the equipment. Not at least for 50 miles. I understand that it will break down, but I am looking for something that is gonna hold up well. - I have a few barista friends from out of town that have been trying to give me tips. - I have coffee. There is a local shop a few hours away that roasts and distributes their own blends, and we have already spoken about me carrying their coffee. - As far as what I want to offer: a few blends on drip, espresso, and espresso based milk drinks.
It doesn't necessarily seem so. If you've done any sort of research at all, you'd probably already realize the same manufacturer's names* come up again and again . . . this is why the specific BRAND isn't as important as what brand(s) you can get SERVICED.
- There is nobody locally that can service the equipment. Not at least for 50 miles. I understand that it will break down, but I am looking for something that is gonna hold up well.
Still not enough information. Let's start with espresso . . . ---> What is your expected volume for espresso/espresso-based milk drinks? (This will help to determine if you need a one-group, a two-, three- or perhaps even two 2-group machines!) ---> Do you want a semi-automatic or volumetrically dosed machine? ---> Do you want an HX machine, or a DB? ---> In addition to "regular" and decaf, do you want to serve a "special" espresso (for example, a single-origin)? You'll need a separate grinder for each espresso bean/blend, so that's three grinders. (You can save space by getting a grinder like this, for example.)
There is more, but I'm limiting the focus to the major topics.
Let's move onto drip coffee . . . ---> You wrote, "a few blends on drip." Are you brewing by-the-cup to order? If so, you'll need a steady source of the right temperature water, like (e.g.) this Bunn. ---> Are you brewing by the pot? You'll probably want to use air pots, rather than keeping the coffee on the burner. ---> Depending upon the method of brewing you choose, you might want to look at a Mahlkönig Guatemala or even a couple of Mahlkönig Guatemala Lab grinders.
What about the coffee itself? Do you want to get yourself locked into a contract with a specific roasting company, or do you want to rotate the roasters you use?
What about tea?
I have no experience other than my french press at home.
emradguy Senior Member Joined: 31 Mar 2011 Posts: 1,725 Location: Houston Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto II Grinder: MacapM4T, Macap M4, OE Lido,... Drip: Espro press; Aeropress Roaster: internet
Posted Sun Dec 9, 2012, 8:34pm Subject: Re: I'm LOST!
maybe I'm naive, but it seems to me you've put the cart before the horse. I mean, who even thinks of building a restaurant and then figuring out what equipment to put in it? Let alone the fact that you want to serve something you haven't a clue how to make. It's like saying, I'm going to open a (insert food style here) restaurant, then building it, and then go look to see how to cook it. WTF? I just don't get it. What surprises me most, is the amount of help you've received. There are a lot of great guys here...kudos to them!
So you're actually opening two places under one roof? A restaurant where people come to eat and maybe have a cup of coffee after meals, and a café where people come exclusively to drink coffee and maybe have a snack to go along? Are you planning to offer coffee to go?
There is nobody locally that can service the equipment. Not at least for 50 miles. I understand that it will break down, but I am looking for something that is gonna hold up well.
With a high volume output something will eventually break up. In that case you'll need someone who's going to do the repair fast and on location, if possible, and who can provide a (temporary or permanent) replacement instantly, if needed. Otherwise your business will be at least partially stalled. You should contact any firm within 75 miles and see what brands they offer and service. Maybe you can even lease some of the equipment.
I have a few barista friends from out of town that have been trying to give me tips.
Sorry, but where do those friends work? At St'*%buck's? Because any professional barista would probably have given you all the information you've received here so far. However, a few tips won't be enough to serve espresso drinks that are better than the the ones you can get at McDonald's. It takes quite some theoretical background as well as practical experience to brew good espresso. You should seriously consider taking a barista course and get some professional hands-on training, if you want to operate the espresso machine yourself. You also need to know how to maintain your equipment like backflushing your espresso machine twice a day.
I have coffee. There is a local shop a few hours away that roasts and distributes their own blends, and we have already spoken about me carrying their coffee.
Have you tried their coffee beans? Do you and your friends (and maybe even some casual bystanders) like their blends? If you do and are serious about getting their coffee for your restaurant, you should try to make a contract with them for sponsorship, because using their beans and advertising that is like a sales promotion for this roaster. You could try to get them to supply (some of) your equipment. With industrial roasters like Illy this is quite common.
As far as what I want to offer: a few blends on drip, espresso, and espresso based milk drinks.
First of all, you'll need a different grinder for each blend and also a different one each for espresso and drip. Depending on how many cups of espresso and espresso based drinks your estimating to sell, you'll need a different espresso machine.
*** "This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee)
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