Simel.Coffee

Why serving great coffee AND food is possible

Since I started getting into specialty coffee, I was always searching for the ultimate cafe experience. For me that means, a place where you not only get great coffee, but also great food, especially cake. What can I say, I’m German, I grew up with having an afternoon cake & coffee with the family.

But during my travels and my visits to different cafes around the world, I could rarely find the perfect combination of great coffee AND food. It was either great coffee OR great food. And I was always wondering why can’t there be both?

'Balz und Balz' in Hamburg, Germany. A cafe run by brother-and-sister-team serving quality coffee AND food.

'Balz und Balz' in Hamburg, Germany. A cafe run by brother-and-sister-team serving quality coffee AND food.

I’ve been always told you can only focus on ONE thing when being a cafe owner and doing that one thing the right way. That’s true in most cases as I found out, especially when it’s a small cafe run by only one person.

I know, that many of you start your own cafe alone, a lot of you without or little experience within the cafe/coffee and/or food sector, but with a lot of passion for preparing and serving great coffee and making customers happy.

Don’t get me wrong, passion is the best start ever! Without passion, you won’t be motivated running your cafe, even when there are tough times with little or no customers coming.

This article is not to tell you, how you have to run your cafe - by serving coffee AND cake for example. It’s about making the right decisions and about focussing.

Because, it is possible to run a successful cafe by offering both, great coffee AND food.

How? By partnering with the right people!

Yeah, I know, you want to start your own small cafe business and you want to start it as soon as possible and with no one talking you into or out of something… But, think about it, even when focussing on just one thing and you’re becoming successful and you’re growing, more customers are coming, you gotta team up with skilled people (baristas or even a business partner) at some point to maintain that - YOUR - quality, right?

So, what can you do?

Think about where you’re located with your cafe. Are you in an area, with a lot of cafes serving coffee only as well? If yes, is there anything else you can offer besides coffee?

When working on your business plan or the concept for your cafe, what are the main aspects you want to be focussing on?

Most of you do offer some food, because we all know that, people like snacking and munching on some sweet or savory treats while drinking their coffee.

Depending on where you’re located and the people you want to serve your coffee (and food) to, think about what you’d like to offer in terms of food as well. Some pastries or cookies only? Sandwiches? Salads? Breakfast? Lunch? Or even both?

Offering food to your customers is a tough business besides serving coffee only! You need staff preparing and serving the food. And, if you’re like most people, you want that food to be as good as your coffee, right?

So, how are you going to do just this?

Find a partner that is good at making pastries or sandwiches or whatever you’re thinking about to offer. He or she doesn’t have to be a (pastry) chef necessarily. But it does help to have a pro within your team that not only has the passion for what he or she does, but also an eye for time management and consistency food wise.

That sounds like a lot of work to find the right person to team up with, I know. Especially if you don’t have anyone in your family or among your friends who you can partner up with right away.

But, don’t panic!

Start small! Open your cafe - with serving great coffee only - and start looking for that (business) partner. Try not to do both yourself, especially, don’t try to do it from the start!

Why? Well, I’m sure you know that, you’re going to a new cafe or you’re visiting a city and heading to one of the cafes and having good coffee and some pastry and you know it’s one of these frozen options, you find in a lot of places today, as soon as you took the first bite. You don’t want that in your cafe, right?

What you CAN do in the beginning, though, is, looking for a local bakery near you that offers fresh pastries every day and ask them, if you can partner up with them for starting off with your cafe. Often this is a great way to not only benefit yourself by serving their pastries, but you can also offer them your coffee, especially if you’re a roaster, too. This is a wonderful option for collaborations.

And, as you’re growing and connecting with people (customers, retail partners, etc.) and digging deeper into the local (coffee) community, you start meeting new people. One of them could be your future business partner that might have been looking for someone like you - the coffee pro -, as well! Together you’ll be able to run a cafe with your very own unique selling proposition: Serving great coffee AND food!


Do you have a (business) partner? What are your experiences with serving coffee and food? Share in the comments below!


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