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I did something stupid. -New guy.
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > I did something...  
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xdoctor
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Nov 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Over There.
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013, 4:59pm
Subject: I did something stupid. -New guy.
 

Hey guys, I belong to a bunch of other forums, and I know how the newbie threads get old, so I'm sorry in advance.  I searched, I lurked, I read all I could and I haven't found the answer to my particular question, so I'm starting a new thread.  Please be gentle.

I own an electronic cigarette shop.  Business is very, very good, I have helped a couple thousand people give up tobacco.  I wanted to expand to the other side of my little town, and happened across a coffee kiosk for sale in the parking lot of a local strip mall, and I bought it.  The original idea was to dump the coffee stuff and just sell the liquids and parts for ecigs.  But the employees from the shop wanted to stay, and there's room for both, so now I find myself in the coffee business.  I don't know a damn thing about the coffee business, so this is probably a dumb thing to do, I'll admit that.  Gonna do it anyway.  But I'm the type of guy that can't handle being ignorant.  I have to know as much about this as my employees, so I'm going to invest the time and money and learn as much as I possibly can.  I have a friend who has done something similar before and has kindly offered to show me the basics, to prevent me from burning my face off.

So what I want to do is pick up an entire secondary setup, and it has to pull double duty.  I want to put everything I need to make anything that the kiosk could conceivably produce in my home so I can experiment with it and learn through experience.  And when the machines in the kiosk eventually fail, it would be nice to have them on hand as backups.  I would expect this backup machine to get fairly heavy use at first, while I'm learning, and then taper off to a couple cups a day.  I can plumb it directly, I have 15 amps to work with and I don't have a problem with used equipment, as long as it is functional.  I have absolutely nothing as far as accessories.  Before this, my coffee making involved a drip machine on the kitchen counter.


I think the grinder in the kiosk is ok, it's a Cunill, I couldn't find a model on it beyond that.  I suspect the machine may be a piece of junk.  It is an Oberon Futurete.  

So I need a grinder, and a good one.  And I need a machine, something that will stand up to heavy use.  I'm confident I can figure out the other pieces and accessories on my own.  I have no brand preferences.  Space is not an issue.  The budget for the whole mess is pretty flexible.  I'd love it if I could get this done for $4000, but I could push it as high as $7k if necessary.  What would you buy?  Just how bad is an Oberon Futurete?  Would I be better off buying a new machine for the kiosk and bring the Oberon home to learn on?  Thanks for any help you might offer.
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RoyceRuiz
Senior Member


Joined: 31 Mar 2012
Posts: 116
Location: San Francisco, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013, 5:49pm
Subject: Re: I'm did something stupid. -New guy.
 

Obviously your question is loaded so I have a suggestion. Since your coffee experience is admittedly limited, I need to ask, do you like coffee? And I don't mean flavored, sweetened swill. I mean good stuff. If you don't know the answer to that question I suggest before you spend any more money on equipment you figure that out. Go to a good shop (get suggestions from us) and drink a lot  of coffee. Start with espresso and learn what it is supposed to taste like. Try pour over coffee, french press etc. learn what truly good coffee tastes like. Do this for a few months. Once you've tried several recommended shops, go to some junky shops, Starbucks wannabes and the mermaid itself and taste the difference. You need to taste good coffee and people's minimum standard (*$s) so you know what people will pay for. Then you can decide what kind of stand you want to have. You could certainly buy equipment and work on things at home now but it would be highly valuable to know what it should taste like. A couple of questions. 1. Where are you located (general area). 2. What beans is the kiosk currently using?
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,113
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013, 7:08pm
Subject: Re: I'm did something stupid. -New guy.
 

You need to take a crash course in the espresso/coffee business ASAP.  Fortunately, there are actual classes.

Machine and Grinder:
There's a lot of information on the web about Futurete.  As nearly as I can tell most of it appears to be wrong.  Futurete machines were and are not manufactured in Florida.  The company of that name which went and in and out of business there, may or may not have (probably did) have something to do with importing and representing them; Futurete USA if you will.

I don't know whether any Futurete machine is currently in production or not, and if so, where they're made. There is a 3 group Oberon for sale, new, on E-Bay.  It appears to be an "automatic" but otherwise very basic HX, with -- perhaps -- E-61 groups.  Contact the seller to see what you can find out, identifying yourself as a potential buyer and not as a current owner.  It's possible though that you can learn as much or more from the kiosk seller, or the employees.  

Just looking at the so-called "expert" commentary about Futurete, the best advice I can give you is to regard anything you see or hear from anyone who does not actually have hands-on experience with a great deal of skepticism.  Everything I read was total BS.  

As a sort of generic, if you can make the Futurete work, make it work.  You already own it.  

The grinder thing is problematic.  There are Cunills and Cunills.  Some good, some not.  

In your shoes, I'd hire a very competent barista to evaluate your equipment.  If there are mechanical or maintenance issues, you may want to talk to a tech as well.  Don't rely on amateurs (like me).  

But First...:
The most important and perhaps the most difficult part of learning coffee -- espresso especially -- is developing a palate.  Going to a bunch of cafes of all levels of quality and tasting everything will be of great benefit.  But, spending time with someone who actually KNOWS coffee will considerably shorten the process.  

Just Bidness:
As a business, there's nothing particularly unusual about coffee.   In most ways it's the same as every other food retail business:  Location, location, location.  

While straight espresso and pour-over coffees are the heart of the aesthetics, the profit is in "coffee drinks," and food.  Nevertheless, if you have an ounce of pride...  

Training and hanging on to trained employees is a special challenge of the espresso/coffee business.  It takes time and effort to learn to pull a good shot, and to steam milk as well.  Giving an employee a 30 minute introduction to the machine is nowhere near enough.  Figure on 12 hours of training in the simplest mechanics of drink making, daily maintenance, etc., as the bare minimum to establish competence.  

See how long it takes you.  Really.  See how long.  If you have the time, money and interest to take a barista class which will take you to SCAA certification level, you should.  If not, you may want to reconsider the whole thing.  

The levels of employee competence, management commitment, and the beans themselves are -- by far -- the most important parts of presenting a decent cup of coffee and "customer experience."  After that... grinders.  Grinders plural.  As in you'll need at least two, and perhaps four.  There are no shortcuts.  (Shotcuts?)  

The only good news is that the espresso machine itself is not that important unless you're doing a lot of volume.  

Some coffee wholesalers will rent or supply the machinery and train in exchange for an "exclusive" contract.  Given that you already at least some of the equipment, something like that may or may not be in your best interest.  Neither you nor I know enough about your actual circumstances to form an opinion.  

Your passion, stubbornness and commitment going in are impressive.  I get the feeling you'll make a go out of it.

Good luck,
BDL
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,675
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013, 8:21am
Subject: Re: I'm did something stupid. -New guy.
 

To echo an above comment, where are you located?
It really helps us to help you if the bio info is filled out correctly, there are vast differences in options depending on your location.

The stock advice is in business, service (of your equipment) is more important than brand name. If you need a repair, you need it ASAP, not in 3 weeks to mail order a part. A local service company is the best place to buy/lease equipment for business.

The grinder is at least as important as the machine and on the same level is properly roasted FRESH beans, you need all 3 to even have a chance at making this work.

Commercial machines are nearly all plumb in and except for single group machines, 220 v. Your volume of drinks sold will play into which machine(s) will be best for you. For occasional use such as in a restaurant a single group likely will work, in a shop, you will need two groups at least if there is any kind of volume, if only to allow room for people to work.

I could find very little in English about that machine though I admit it was a pretty quick search. For the most part, they are more alike than different under the skin.

Your budget will be fine but do shop at a local supplier who can service the equipment like I said above. Sure machines show up on Craigslist. Avoid Ebay unless you like to over pay for who knows what kind of condition equipment that is sold there. Again, SERVICE and local parts supply are more important than brand or even machine design. HX is the industry standard. DB are becoming more common but cost more, they offer a different feature set but outstanding espresso can easily be produced on HX. Employee training is vital, they need to LOVE TO DRINK COFFEE IF NOT ESPRESSO, I can't tell you how many times I have talked to a PBC (person behind the counter, not a BARISTA) who could not care less about coffee, they were there only for the job. If you do not like to use the product you are selling, you have no way to know if what you are selling is any good!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,015
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013, 8:54am
Subject: Re: I'm did something stupid. -New guy.
 

A full barista training class for you would go a long way to understanding what you need and want.   I agree most kids are not passionate about what they are doing, but I would think a foodie/chef wantabe kid would be the exception to the "not drinking coffee" but understanding what they are doing and wanting to make an excellent product to serve.  I think the food channel is really helping kids get passionate about real food.

I agree with them, service for up time, grinder and beans.  Those are the keys to any coffee.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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DeanOK
Senior Member
DeanOK
Joined: 24 Sep 2012
Posts: 650
Location: OK
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Vario W
Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013, 9:09am
Subject: Re: I'm did something stupid. -New guy.
 

I agree... service is key if your trying to make money. The best machine in the world will cost you money and customers if it is broke and you can't get it fixed. I see that a company Hawkins Commercial Restaurant Service services Franke in your area (if you are in Cheyenne) . Probably not the machine you would want, but at least they know what an Espresso machine is. Bad part is that they are over 100 miles form you. You just need to look around and try to find someone that can show up with knowledge and parts if you can't fix it on your own.

There is several schools around the country that you can go to learn the basics of the coffee business. Might be a good investment for you and your key manager. Most of the schools are the biggest part of a week and go over everything from inventory management, product quality and consistency and the business side.
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RoyceRuiz
Senior Member


Joined: 31 Mar 2012
Posts: 116
Location: San Francisco, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013, 10:08am
Subject: Re: I'm did something stupid. -New guy.
 

DeanOK Said:

I see that a company Hawkins Commercial Restaurant Service services Franke in your area (if you are in Cheyenne) . Probably not the machine you would want, but at least they know what an Espresso machine is. Bad part is that they are over 100 miles form you.

Posted November 14, 2013 link

Where did you see where he was from?
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DeanOK
Senior Member
DeanOK
Joined: 24 Sep 2012
Posts: 650
Location: OK
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Vario W
Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013, 10:14am
Subject: Re: I'm did something stupid. -New guy.
 

RoyceRuiz Said:

Where did you see where he was from?

Posted November 14, 2013 link

I just Googled him... no one has any privacy anymore unless their name is John Smith. But then, I could be wrong too... not really trying to be nosy... just trying to help. I was hoping he was in a big metro area.
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RoyceRuiz
Senior Member


Joined: 31 Mar 2012
Posts: 116
Location: San Francisco, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013, 10:24am
Subject: Re: I'm did something stupid. -New guy.
 

Thanks, I did the same.  It looks like he is in Casper.  Anyone know of any good chops in that area?
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xdoctor
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Nov 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Over There.
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013, 12:54pm
Subject: Re: I'm did something stupid. -New guy.
 

You guys are great with google.  I've got to stop using the same screen name everywhere I guess.  

Here's the problem.  I am in fact, in Casper.  There is nowhere in Wyoming that sells or services any of this stuff.  There is no training available in Wyoming.  I'm right in the middle of nowhere here.  I've reached out to a couple consultants and training schools around the country to ask about their programs, haven't heard anything back yet.  The only one I found that was even close geographically, their phone number is disconnected.  It would be nice to send one of my employees to the school, then let them come back and teach me.  I personally don't have the time to go and do it, I have other businesses to run.  Hell, I haven't had time for more than a two day vacation in the last five years.

Thanks for all your input, it gives me a place to start.
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