How To Choose The Right Coffee Partner

How To Choose The Right Coffee Partner

Sep 6th 2023 Written by Ryan Felbinger

Opening a coffee shop entails a multitude of crucial considerations, not the not the least of which are equipment, location, menu, marketing, floor plan and bar flow – the list goes on and on. To navigate through this intricate process, you need experienced and reliable partners who know how to bridge the divide between your grand vision to your grand opening and beyond. Choosing the right partners on your cafe journey will be some of the most critical decisions you make! In this article, we’ll highlight several essential components of a specific partnership: your coffee supplier.

If you're eager to delve into other facets of cafe ownership, reach out to our Commercial Services team today to schedule a free consultation!


A Good Partner Will Train Your Staff

One of the greatest benefits to be gained from a supplier or coffee roasting partner is the knowledge and experience they may (or may not) be willing to share with you and your baristas. Oftentimes, in exchange for a contract to purchase coffee, roasters will send out professional baristas to train your team on different aspects of the drink-making process, including tuning grinders and espresso machines, steaming milk, espresso and coffee extraction techniques, among other things. Remember that most roasters are both eager to sell you coffee and attentive to the way in which their coffee is presented to the customer, because you are a representative and the quality of each beverage ultimately reflects upon the roaster. Don’t be afraid to use this to your advantage! Find a local coffee supplier that’s willing to train your entire staff to ensure the best coffee quality possible.


Exclusive vs. Multi-Roaster Partnerships

Many modern cafes opt for a continually rotating selection of coffees and coffee roasters to offer their customers the most variety possible. This comes with some advantages, including offering new experiences to discerning customers and aiding in yours and your barista's professional development and palate, and the ability to chase the best coffees currently available. Before you go this route, the disadvantages of a multi-roaster approach are also important to consider.

Points to Consider

  • Your baristas must be competent enough to effectively dial-in new coffees on a weekly basis and learn to accommodate the variety of roasting styles out there.
  • There is a greater chance of getting stuck with coffees you and your customers don’t like.
  • Different roasters charge different prices, and this creates some inconsistency in your cost of goods and anticipated profit margins.
  • Shipping from multiple locations is inherently inconsistent in terms of delivery dates and cost.
  • Lastly, these minor partnerships may not offer the same benefits as a single roasting partner, like employee training. In order for training to be worth a roaster's time, they generally require a commitment to exclusivity.

Before committing to an exclusive or multi-roaster model, decide what’s most important to you, and what your customers really want. Keep in mind that in the pursuit of consistency, there’s no better advantage than committing to the same coffees over a long period.


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The Benefits Of A Local Partner

There really are no disadvantages to partnering with a local coffee supplier or roaster, but the benefits are many. Beyond just supporting your local economy and coffee community, there are some great reasons to source your coffee from a neighborhood roaster:

Points to Consider

  • Low shipping costs, or even free local delivery.
  • Greater profit margins. What you save on shipping costs goes in your pocket!
  • Coffee freshness. You’ll get the longest shelf-life from coffee that didn’t spend a week in processing/shipment.
  • Emergency pick-up. Didn’t plan for quite enough coffee this week? Give your roaster a call and drive over to grab a couple more bags.
  • Continuous local training for new baristas. Many roasters host monthly or quarterly training sessions for regional wholesale partners.
  • Cultivating personal relationships. Nothing beats a face-to-face relationship with your coffee partner. You’ll find that problems are handled more empathetically, and that more opportunities for personalized services and development arise as a result.


Coffee Quality

One of the primary factors influencing the prices your customers pay is your cost of goods. Achieving the right balance involves setting a price that reflects maximum value for customers while still maintaining profitability. This requires effectively aligning the quality of your coffee beans with what your average customer is willing to spend. Although sourcing top-tier specialty coffees exclusively and having customers enthusiastic to pay a premium price would be ideal, reality often differs – the percentage of customers willing to pay $10 for a meticulously crafted 90-point Gesha is relatively small. Simultaneously, serving subpar coffee is not desirable either.

For some new café owners, the aspiration to serve 'the world's best coffee' can be alluring, perhaps even the ultimate objective. However, it's important to acknowledge that the concept of the 'best espresso in the world' is elusive. Perception of coffee quality not only varies greatly from consumer to consumer, but coffee as a seasonal agricultural product is shifting, inconstant, and often unpredictable. What you can be certain of is that a memorable coffee experience usually begins with reasonably good quality coffee, brewed with exceptional skill, top-notch grinders, a reliable espresso machine, a quality batch brewer, and a thoughtful water treatment solution. It's wise to seek a roaster who provides commendable coffee quality rather than obsessing over finding the absolute best. In the pursuit of better beverage quality, allocating resources to enhance yours and your staff’s skills, and investing in better coffee equipment often proves more fruitful.

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Let's Get Started Together

Wherever you are on your journey towards opening your own coffee shop, Prima’s team is equipped to help you get on the right track to meet your goals! We come from a variety of backgrounds including cafe management, cafe ownership, barista experience, roasting, and technical support. Our diverse skills combined with access to the finest coffee equipment in the world, and a shared interest in equipping people to brew better coffee makes Prima an incredible resource to people at any stage of their coffee journey. To get started on the path to cafe ownership, or to upgrade your current equipment, schedule an appointment with our commercial services team today. We look forward to serving you!

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Sep 6th 2023 Ryan Felbinger

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