How long would it take to learn how to run a coffee shop by working at Starbucks? What are the areas I need to pay attention to in orde

How long would it take to learn how to run a coffee shop by working at Starbucks? What are the areas I need to pay attention to in order to learn?

You can check the answer of the people under the question at Quora “how to learn about coffee business

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  1. So, I’m no expert, I’ve never worked with coffee and never studied business and nothing like that. My mom does consulting so I get some quality and managing knowledge from her but that’s all.
    I’m here because I have an experience on dreaming of opening a coffee shop. So this is more of a personal story answer than an educated helpful one.
    About 2 years ago I had this idea of using the now popular geek themed ice molds to make chocolate, just for me and my friends, then to start selling them to my friends in a small scale. I started with a simple small egg mold. It was supposed to be a pineapple but to me it looks like a small dragon egg, so that’s how I sell it. I started buying more molds, getting them from Amazon and ThinkGeek and just showing it to my friends and giving as gifts and prizes at some geek events around.
    About 1 year ago there was going to be an event I was helping to organize and I was going to have my own little desk there to sell my chocolate. But I didn’t have much in the way of that specific theme, so I called a friend of mine who always dreamt of starting a coffee shop, who loves coffee and can bake and decorate and we decided to start our coffee shop there. We had a few months to plan and buy everything and market ourselfs. We made some cookies, some biscuits, some chocolate, ice tea and coffee. Turns out we had no idea what we were doing and overestimated the public and the sales and ended up having some big leftover at the end of the day. Nothing went to trash, we walked around to the other sellers and staff and gave the leftovers as gifts. That ended up making us a lot of friends and partners and is a practice I keep to this day whenever there’s the need. But even with that, we had a great turnover and suddenly not only did we pay what we’d spent in material, we had money left!
    We got excited, bought a small simple coffee machine and decided to do more events to gather money to eventually open our physical shop. My friend always stressed that’s where we were going, she didn’t want to just sell in events forever. I should probably make it clear we were targeting a very specific public and had in mind having an exclusive coffee shop that addressd specifically that public, all geek.
    We went like that for almost one year, selling in events, making up new recepies, trying new stuff, finding out what sold and what didn’t, how the public reacted to us, advertising on facebook, getting a few orders here and there, selling OK, always enough to pay our costs and save some, but never enough to justify seriously thinking on opening something for real. My friend was getting tired of this and starting to speak of partnerships with groups in her city (we live in different states, to make things easier , about 8 hours by bus between us), of a possibility of leaving our products at an already existing coffe shop in a library there, of talking to lawyers and making us a contract, of opening in about one more year, of getting money from the bank for that and start the documents going.
    Then we started to argue. I did my research and a lot of money goes into opening a coffee shop. A lot of money goes into paying the bills and salaries and ingredients every month. A lot of money we’d have to borrow because her boyfriend and I were the only ones working at that time. Both her and my boyfriend were still in university, not one of the four of us studying business, managing, finance or even gastronomy. I started telling her that, that we didn’t have the money, that we needed to learn things, take the mandatory courses, register ourselfs as a company, start researching locations, costs to rent a place, suppliers… There was a lot we needed to do before actually opening something.
    So this July we got real greedy. We gathered our money, I put some from my own pocket and we paid for a place to share with some other friends in a big Anime event here. 8 days of event, 2 weeks, public estimations of thousands and thousands. It would be what took our cash from 3 to 4 digits. She came here, brought a lot of product, I spent all my nights for 2 weeks producing, and then… yeah, it sucked. Sales weren’t as good as we hoped, and even though we got our money back and some was left, the slow sales and the huge leftovers were a shock to my friend. She started talking about ending the project. That we were not making any money, that we were losing more than getting… The events we went in her city didn’t sell enough, while here they sold enough to pay the costs and leave a little, but not enough to grow much. She now thinks the moment has passed for what we wanted is gone, that the public is not into this. We’ve just closed our page and announced the end of the business and are now assessing our finances to see how much we got out of it, if anything. I’m now again on my own with my chocolates, in which I have a big investment, and other things I can make on my own and sell from home or in small events with friends. I don’t have think about openning something by myself very soon.
    The point of my story is that some experience and knowledge is always desirable. And concience of what the costs are, both in money and time an dedication.
    What I’d do were I you is to follow both advices given by other answers: go spend some time in SB yes, that’s gonna give you one perspective. Then go spend some time in a more independent coffee shop to get the other kind of perspective. You’ll then get to see the good and the bad of both types of business, learn what you ultimately want to achieve with your own.
    Meanwhile go study and read and learn everything you can that will be useful to open your own place. Learn a bit of the laws involved, a bit of the finances, a bit of marketing and market research, a bit of management. Learn all you can about coffee and baking and the suppliers you’ll have available. Go to your friends and start putting together your future team and find what each one can bring to the business. Start experimenting with products and menus at home, with your friends, at parties. And most importantly start saving as much money as you can for as long as you can so that later you’ll be able to keep your business going without going into debt fast.
    Just don’t do as my friend has and give up on your first big loss. Know that when you first start it’ll be hard and not profitable for a while, but if you love it and you truly want it and dedicate yourself you’ll live through that difficult start. Don’t give up on your dream because you fell once or twice on the way there.

  2. A long time with lots of supposition on your part.
    What you will learn at Starbucks is how to run a single outlet of a multinational chain, which is not the same as running your own coffee shop or running a multinational chain. You will also not learn how to make coffee but rather how to push buttons and assemble Starbucks coffee-flavoured drinks.
    To run your own coffee shop, you will need to learn the following things that you will not learn while working at a Starbucks.

    * Coffee machinery selection – Starbucks machines are highly automated and selected by head office. They are mostly inappropriate choices for one-off coffee shops, in part because they produce technically inferior and less interesting coffee and in part because you will need to differentiate yourself from Starbucks to succeed. Which brings us to…
    * Marketing – As a Starbucks employee you will be responsible for a tiny fraction of marketing activities mostly related to fulfilling the in-store portions of chain-wide seasonal or special purpose promotions. You won’t have any advertising responsibility at all. There’s a ton of knowledge in this category you won’t get from Starbucks.
    * Business accounting – Starbucks has systems it requires its employee managers to use which are wired to the tills and provide them with reports. You will have to recreate that entire infrastructure in miniature and cheaply.
    * Making coffee – Among other things, what demogra…

  3. That’s a hard one. Assuming that you know about coffee basics (how to grind, make coffee, do espresso, etc..) I’d say two to three years to learn all the management skills needed. Of course, you won’t learn much as a part-timer… but try get a job there and take all the training you can get.
    Of course, if you intend to start really small, then why bother? Just get started with a simple menu, simple drinks, and learn by doing it yourself. Starbucks does a good job at running a coffee shop, that’s not saying they are the best. In fact, you could fly several Airbuses through the openings in the market that SB doesn’t cater to: regional coffees (a coffee of the day? huh!), better quality food & cakes, specialty coffees…
    Many people dream of running their own coffee shop, but the casualty rate of new restaurant/food type businesses is very high. Restaurant Failure Rates Recounted: Where Do They Get Those Numbers?
    After the first year 27% of restaurant startups failed; after three years, 50% of those restaurants were no longer in business; and after five years 60% had gone south. At the end of 10 years, 70% of the restaurants that had opened for business a decade before had failed.
    The usual reasons are obvious: but where I live, I often see the biggest threat to a new business – running out of money before you’ve got enough customers coming through the door. In the tech industry, it’s called the burn rate. The business runs out of cash before it starts to make itself viable. That’s not to say a particular business couldn’t be viable… they just run out of time/money.
    So, if you’ve ever had any entrepreneurial experience, you’ll know that cashflow management is vital, esp. in the first couple of years. You’ll also need to keep a handle on your start up costs: Starting a Coffee Shop? Consider your location, your money, and your coffee!
    You should also consider your location, your selling proposition (what makes you different from the other businesses in the neighborhood), and how you plan to market yourself to new customers.
    In practical terms, this means looking for places with good foot traffic, where there is an actual cooked food and beverage market already (near offices, universities, big hospitals, etc.); what makes you different (do you plan to serve quality coffee/roast your own/make great cakes/etc…?); and how are you going to get yourself in customers’ faces (literally & metaphorically) – ie. advertising, events, marketing, tastings, etc?
    I hope this helps.


  4. I actually think you should dodge this idea because there’s something to be said about lack of experience. I had no experience and while were not a super large company we’re successful with great growth potential. Lack of experience combined with passion and drive can take you to amazing places no other coffee shop has been before.
    Running a coffee shop isn’t rocket science, it’s common sense. Define why you want to open a coffee shop first and make sure your place fulfills that purpose extremely well. You may even discover that you might want to do something different after challenging yourself with the “why” question.
    Procuring and crafting the best coffee is art, science and passio…

  5. Great answer by Jacob, but I think Mark is missing the point a bit…
    You may only learn a handful of things working for Starbucks and the value in that all depends on what experiences you have had before.

    If you’ve never done it before, managing people will be your biggest challenge! If you are young, then it is all the more harder to earn respect even if you are the boss.

    I wouldn’t recommend heading over to Starbucks to learn the ropes in the coffee biz but what it will do is give you some insight into how a well oiled business works! Keeping in mind that Starbucks is not the No.1 choice for the coffee connoisseur, so leaving their product aside, their business has some great values.
    As Mark has mentioned, there are a bunch of unless things you will probably learn (ie: the things they will teach you) but there are 1001 more things you will have the opportunity to glean while you are there:

    Not the act of their marketing, but how their marketing works. Who it attracts, why and when? Is it emotional or price driven, is it right place right time?
    Store location, why do some do better than others under the same Starbucks formula?
    What people like about the Starbucks ‘flavour’- is it the coffee? No, then what? The convenient location, the price, the ‘3rd space’ shopfit, free wifi?? Who is your ideal client and why are they there? You can learn a lot by observing your customers, but strike up a conversation!
    Who are their suppliers, what do people like, what don’t they? What sells?
    How do they manage their floats and staff interactions with cash?
    Stock management, lifespan of goods, when do things go on sale to get them out of the fridge/cake cabinet?
    Balancing the books: x-read, z-read, EFTPOS: balance, account and calculate: how much did we make today? What was the average spend and most popular menu item? Some mental benchmarking will assist you with what people want and what is to be expected when you go it alone.

    Suffice to say that I’d suggest you give it a crack- if only for an eye opener for 6 months or so. If you have some experience with floats, advertising, dealing with suppliers and staff, then maybe give it a miss- take Jacobs advice: break the mould and do it your way- go hard or go home!
    I’ve been running a small monthly subscription coffee business here in Australia (been making coffee for years but decided to get further into the bean side of the magical elixir!) and one thing that I can say about the coffee industry is that everyone is so friendly and passionate about it that they can’t help themselves but to help you out. Advice is everywhere, roasters are like butchers, one of the friendliest professions out there and in my experience they will all offer some advice or assistance.
    Good luck, I wish you all the best!

  6. It will take you around a year to learn generally learn all of the skills necessary to run a coffee shop. If you want to learn everything in a high amount of detail , you’re talking around 5 years .
    If I was you, I wouldn’t want to work at Starbucks if I was going to open my coffee shop. Starbucks is a chain which has qualities that are very hard to compete with. I would go to a coffee bar or specialty coffee shop and learn their style. It is the things that coffee shop’s don’t do like Starbucks that gets them customers. A good person to talk about this idea with is @ Jacob Jaber who is CEO of Philz coffee shop.
    If you want help learning the business ideas behind coffee shops, like merchandising, marketing, supply chain, sourcing, ordering, operations and strategy, I’d be happy to help you out with some ideas or do some consulting for you, but if I were you I’d get a job at a small coffee shop and learn it’s differentiating qualities.

  7. I wouldn’t try to learn how to run a coffee shop by working at Starbucks. Far better for you to work at a coffee shop similar to the one you’d like to open rather than a shops whose business decisions and methodologies are determined thousands of miles away at corporate headquarters. You’ll never be able to develope a point of view about coffee, or what makes something special as it can be at artisan coffee shops rather than what makes it uniform and
    predictable as it is at Starbucks. There is no chance that you will learn the nuances of pulling a quality shot of espresso at Starbucks. For better or worse they’ve mechanized all that. There’s no chance that you will learn the techniques of luscious velvety foam. There’s no chance you will learn to distinguish and select the best local pastries. Starbucks would be where you can learn to manage a corporate facility in a mega organization. If you want to own an run a small, local coffee shop then learn in one.

    Victor Allen’s

  8. I guess it depends on where you are starting from. The first thing I would recommend is to consider working for another independent shop instead. Starbucks relies on superautomatic machines which automates much of the drink preparation and IMO produces an inferior result. Find a successful independent or smaller chain shop that focuses on quality vs volume and name recognition. You wont have either when you start your own. You will have to give your customers a reason to walk past 10 familiar Starbucks stores and come to yours instead.

    The good news is, you can easily best Starbucks on quality if you know coffee and how to make it. The bad news is that competition is tough. Starbuck probably pays half what you will pay for coffee and probably sells for a higher price than you can charge as an independent.

    I would also recommend that you roast your own, in house. You get your own stock much cheaper by buying green and you can resell to local grocers and specialty shops for additional revenue. Of course, that means learning roasting, or hiring a qualified roaster and investing in the equipment upfront.

    Then again, you might ignore me completely. I’ve never done this. I do run a small neighborhood roasting operation out of my garage and pay close attention to the shops around that succeed or fail.


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