On Twitter I came across an interesting discussion that said these 4 items are the secret to success. What do you think?

  1. Equipment
  2. Training
  3. Coffee
  4. Location

As posted by Nick Griff.

Arizona Coffee

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  1. A passion for the bean is the single most important requirement. Many a folk has gone into the business without it and the result is invariably the same.

  2. Ah, very nice. That’s definitely the part that is missing.

  3. Brian

    As a part of #2 Training I hope would be Education of both employees and the general public. If employees have a passion they will dive further into the coffee world and educate themselves…if not an owner/manager can continue to educate employees and hope to spur on a passion. Training/Educating customers is huge…a great example of this is Cartel Coffee Lab. Their customers tend to know more about coffee than any other customer base I know and it’s due to the willingness of the employees sharing their knowledge and passion. Great tweet to get us thinking!

  4. Not necessarily in that order. If your coffee sucks, it doesn’t matter what you do to it, it’s gonna suck. If you’re well-trained (and by that, I don’t mean that you’re the human equivalent of a super auto, repeating the exact same ritual over and over), you can get great beans to produce at least good coffee on almost any gear. Knowing the difference between PID’s gear, and heat exchangers, levers and pumps, etc. and how it will affect your cup, is important.
    Miscela, Macinadosatore, Mano, and Macchina.
    Or, in English; Blend, Grind, Hand, and Machine.
    Location last. if I have a choice of two coffee shops, one great, but a few minutes further than the closer mediocre shop, that’s where I’m going.
    It’s important, sure, but not as important as the coffee, the training, or the kit. Getting folk to know that you’re wherever you are, and that your better than all the places that you’re gonna pass is pretty important, too.
    If you went to San Francisco five or six years ago, and tried to find the Blue Bottle on Linden, cabbies would have a hard time taking you there. If you started, like I did, at the Hyatt on Market, with a Starbucks across the street, and a Java City on the property, and two dozen independent coffee shops in between, by the time you convinced your cabbie to turn down that alley, and drop you at that roll-up door with the wooden counter on wheels rolled out to the curb, there’d still be ten to twenty people in line in front of you.
    If you brew it, they will come.

  5. Chris, and all you arizona coffee regulars, i enjoy reading your comments and reviewing your photos, your passion is genuine and undeniable. Chris, last time you were in lux with your parents i was remiss in not introducing myself and offering you thanks for stopping by. While i know there is no right or one way to success, love and service, and i mean that sincerely, love and service, keep running the same play…

  6. Jeff, yes, next time introduce yourself. I’d love to meet you. Despite anything bad I’ve said about Lux, you guys are still a shining star in a desert. Would love to meet you & even do a profile if you’re interested.

  7. Tom Maegdlin

    Couldn’t agree more with Victor. It is nearly impossible to train people who just don’t care. When I was learning the trade, we were not even allowed to train to become a barista for 6 months. So in that time you got to see the passion and the dedication of people who put every drop of pride they have into what they do. When I finally got my first bar shift I knew it was a privilege, as I still believe it to be.

  8. This is the type of posting that makes me read this blog on a daily basis.
    First, Tingom is doing something very good for the coffee house industry in Arizona. The definition of quality has started here. We owe that to his pictures, some of you may know now that gourmet espresso has a dark “redish” crema when the right combination of fresh coffee *, water temperature, coffee grinds and espresso machine flow calibration is obtained. This is a good start, the only part missing is the actual definition of the taste of the coffee that is used either as a blend or single origen/estate. I will love to see you guys go at the”the other coffee”, the brewed one (40% of coffee sales are from drip coffee)
    This attempt to actually define success in the coffee house sector is very interesting, some of you guys have made the right contribution.
    According to me, success is obtained when you realize that you are working towards obtaining your life dream. Once you are there, you will do amazing things, like study how to become a better coffee professional, leader, trainer, and mentor. Passion ultimately is the fuel that drives you to obtain your dream. Once you realize that you are going in the right direction you will monitor and address all the key factors on day to day business like customer service, product formulation, and one of the most important; promotion (that, also generates traffic).
    Once you are following your dream you will not be afraid to tell people about your business and since you have studied long and hard how to make your dream a reality you will also tell them “why” as why is this product, service, and coffee experience the best you as a customer will ever have. Thank you Chris for helping some of us realize our dream even though you give us criticism.

  9. The one thing that kills coffee shops is customer apathy. If they don’t care, they end up going for the closest coffee instead of the best. Any trip to a coffee shop takes me past at least two other shops, either indies who don’t give a damn, or corporate juggernauts who can’t give a damn.
    This is why what Chris does is important, and why I’ll go to get my stuff at a local superior shop, spread the word (my bumper sticker reads: “Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks”, thanks Pony Espresso!) and support, really support the local shops.
    I’ve repaired gear for a local, just to keep him humming along, trained baristi in tricks and hints, and fully supported Arizona’s first barista jam. Loaned my grinder, my projector screen, and tables; wired espresso machines and grinders; loaded and unloaded kit; set up and struck furniture; and did dishes during the competitions.
    We can do that, if we want our coffee environment to flourish, or just wait for it to die.
    Yep, all four of those things are important, but if your customers don’t care, you’re doomed.

  10. Hey Everybody,
    Great discussion here.

    It’s funny, when I sent that message to Mike White I never thought it’d become an actual discussion online. But, here it is.

    A couple of additional thoughts.
    Because it was a twitter message I didn’t get overly complex about what it takes to have a successful cafe, (somehow 140 characters just aren’t enough), passion is of course a prerequisite to any business venture, particularly in a specialty field. But passion alone doesn’t mean you’ll have a successful business or even make good coffee. I know plenty of people who love the idea of coffee, love the story of coffee and want to provide the highest quality level of coffee humanly possible, but they don’t know ANYTHING about coffee preparation! They’re more caught up in the romance of coffee than the technical aspect of making a cup of coffee. Because I deal with wholesale accounts I see this quite a bit. It’s dissheartening to say the least.

    I also didn’t put “The Four Requirements” in any particular order, because without one, the others don’t matter. Call me biased, but I think Intelli consistantely produces some of the best coffees in the world, but you put those coffees in inadequate brewers, espresso machines or grinders or with the wrong water purifier and you might as well be using “xyz” coffee.

    As far as customers are concerned, you should know more than them. Don’t be scared of them.

    The desires of your customers are slowly changing and you need to be able to read them and adapt to their needs as well, but not at the sake of quality. Yes, the economy is having an impact, but the answer is not cheaper coffees at cheaper prices. Most people I know are seeking out more value for their money, not less value for less cost. Don’t get caught up in that, it’ll be nearly impossible to recover.

    One last thought. There is no static answer to what is required to have a successful cafe. In the last two years Intelli has completely overhauled it’s methodology in the cafe and it’s training curriculum to reflect changes in advancing techniques, equipment and above all the quality level of the coffees that are available to us. Our focus is quality in the cup and every change that we make happens after intense scrutiny looking at how it will affect cup quality. Success and quality are a moving target and you have to change and adapt when better equipment is available and better techniques are found.

    I want to thank Chris for initiating discussion about coffee. There needs to be more healthy discussion about coffee.

    I don’t have all the answers but collectively we might be able to figure a few things out.

    If anyone has any direct questions feel free to email me at NGriffith@intelligentsiacoffee.com

    Take Care,

  11. Well, I’ve only seen the Chicago store in pictures online, but it looks like you guys have the stuff other than the coffee bit figured out as well. How are you guys dealing with the ‘you ain’t fum ‘roun’ heah’ NY’er attitude in that neighborhood? I know, it’s a small (and small-minded) minority, but a few of them have a loyal and fanatical following.