How to Start an Online Coffee Shop at Home
One good thing about starting a business in the comforts of your own home is that it’s less risky in terms of cost and safety – you won’t have to rent a space for a cafe, no need to buy tables and chairs, no need for interior design. Dine-in has always been limited and people don’t go out that often nowadays, anyway. So ready your entrepreneurial spirit and let’s get down to (online) business!
1. Knowledge is key, so first, learn coffee
Before getting all hyped, you need to make sure you have basic knowledge in making good coffee. Your coffee knowledge will serve as your map as you navigate through the coffee making business.
This will help you in picking out the right coffee beans for your recipes. For example, coffee beans from trees that are planted on different altitudes give different taste notes. Those that come from very high (5,000 ft) altitude have notes of fruit, spice, floral, berry and wine. Beans that come from high altitude (4,000 ft) have notes of citrus, vanilla, chocolate and nuts. Meanwhile, those that come from very low (2,000 ft) to medium (3,000 ft) altitudes have milder, simpler, and less complex taste notes. Try to learn the differences among the four known species of coffee beans, too. Arabica has a softer, delicate taste with less caffeine. Robusta has a stronger taste with high caffeine content and raw nutty smell. Liberica is known in the country as kapeng barako, and excelsa has a character similar to wine.
2. Determine your target market
To whom do you want to serve your coffee to?
A specified demographic will help you tailor-fit your menu to the preferences of your target market.
You can ask yourself, what is the age range and lifestyle of my target market? Where do they live? Are they residing in a middle or higher-income community? Are they on-the-go, or do they prefer slow and mellow coffee time while reading a book or talking to a loved one?
What are their taste preferences? Are they adventurous enough to try unique flavors? Or do they like the classic drinks they order from their favorite cafe pre-pandemic? Do they like the sweeter side, or do they like the stronger cups?
These questions will help you customize the menu and the experience that you want to provide for them.
3. Create your menu. What do you want to serve?
Guided by your coffee knowledge and your research on your target market, you will now be able to begin developing your menu. What do these people want in a cup of coffee? What do these people need in terms of service? What do you want to sell them?
Depending on your answers to these questions, you will be able to list down your coffee offerings. You may categorize them into hot, iced, and blended beverages. Some coffee entrepreneurs also add a few simple snacks and pastries that pair well with their drinks.
It can also be helpful to label the items according to what you want to promote. For example, if you have your own special recipe that you want to introduce to the world, you can label it as a ‘recommended drink’ or a ‘must-try’
4. Build a brand and a story
You now have a menu, developed well with the foundation of good research and exceptional coffee knowledge. But with the saturated market online, what now?
Don’t worry, a saturated online market does not necessarily mean that it is an impenetrable market. Every online store may be selling coffee, but each has its own offering, branding and story.
What’s your unique selling proposition? What’s your story?
These things can be the foundation of your brand. Depending on the target market, your menu, and the cost of your products, you can build a brand that resonates with the preferences of your customers. It’s also important that it resonates well with you.
You can start with a name, then a tagline. Then start telling your story. What kind of voice do you want to have? What kind of brand personality do you think will converse well with your market?
5. Create a business plan
Now that you have drawn out the map with your menu, target market, coffee knowledge and brand, it’s time to create a business plan.
How will you execute all the ideas you have plotted in your map? Where will you get supplies? How will you manage the inventory? How would you like the products to look like in terms of presentation and packaging? How will you promote and sell it online? Who will create the social media pages? Who will take the orders? Will you hire baristas to do the actual crafting for you? How will you have it delivered to your customers? How will you address possible concerns and complaints?
It’s important to consider all the possible scenarios so you have a plan to address a mishap in case it happens. What if your supplier suddenly stops replying to your follow-ups? How will you serve the customers the next day? A good business plan can be flexible but will still prioritize customer satisfaction.
6. Look for a trusted supplier
Speaking of mishaps, some coffee suppliers are also new in the business just like you. That’s why sometimes, it can be challenging on your part to find consistency in the quality of supplies that they provide. For example, the coffee roast is inconsistent, or the syrups are already close to expiry date. Or, when you ask them how to properly use the equipment, they have little knowledge so they can’t teach you. That’s a lot of money down the drain already.
That’s why it’s very important to develop a great working relationship with a trusted supplier. In the food business, customers look for consistency. They went back today because they loved what you served yesterday. Will they go back tomorrow if you got different beans from another supplier today?
That’s why in Blu Coffee, we only provide highly-acclaimed and globally trusted brands of Italian coffee machines, coffee beans, flavored syrups, sauces, powders, milks and all the other materials you need to make a cup of coffee that your customer today will keep coming back for more tomorrow. Not only that, you’ll also get the kind of B2B service you deserve, as we provide the appropriate training for beginner coffee-preneurs and for baristas as well. You wouldn’t have to worry if you need assistance with the equipment you have purchased, because we do provide reliable after sales service!
7. Build an online community
Now that you have your knowledge, skills, menu, business plan, and supplies, it’s time to start introducing your brand to the online world of coffee lovers!
As you create your online coffee shop through Facebook or Instagram, it’s important to also strategize the content that you will put out and don’t forget the call-to-action or CTA at the end of every content. This will direct your readers to purchase after seeing your content.
You can also do promotions! And you can also collect feedback from your customers and repost it as testimonials.
This way, you can gradually build an online community that will not only purchase from you, but will also advocate for your coffee.
Lastly, enjoy the journey as much as you enjoy your every cup of coffee.
After all, the coffee that’s been making you happy will now make others feel the same warmth you felt when you had your first cup.