Coffee shop owners: What’s your advice to wanna-be coffee shop owners? What’s that one thing you would tell someone starting out? (Feel free to be anonymous when leaving a comment if you are concerned about competition). Patrons: What is most important to you in selecting a coffee house? Feel free to use examples. The back story: I frequently receive emails from people who tell me they want to someday own a coffee shop and love how this web site helps them understand the pulse of what makes a great coffee house. I love getting emails like this because it means I’m doing something right. Personally I actually don’t have any inclination to run a coffee shop. I’m sure it’s much harder than it looks! What’s funny is that I think every patron to a coffee shop imagines themselves as the owner. I know I have. When I visit a coffee shop I find myself comparing it to some sort of higher standard. What that standard is I’m not sure. Perhaps a merging of everything I’ve found impressive at the coffee shops I frequent… from the couches at Lux, to the outdoor seating at Coffee Plantation, to the strong Wi-Fi signal at Mama Java’s (and the availability of power outlets). Or maybe it all boils down to location. It does for me. My office is close to Mama Java’s, La Grande Orange, Hava Java, and a Starbucks. Plus I drive past Market Street every day. So those are the places I frequently hit (once a week?) unless I’m all the way across town — in that case I always map out my trip. I know that many coffee houses don’t have the national budgets that companies like Starbucks bring to the table and I’m betting a number of them have razor thin margins. This no doubt keeps the independent coffee shops on the edge of their chairs — always thinking of ways to improve. Thanks!