Coffee Businesses You Can Start From Home

Brick-and-mortar coffee shops no longer represent the boundaries of coffee businesses. If you’re looking to start a coffee business from the comfort of your home, read on. Written by coffee professionals, this guide features several ideas for entrepreneurs seeking a creative coffee venture.

Inspired by coffee professionals, our coffee shop business guides will steer you through the necessary steps to make your coffee dreams real, from picking a location to buying equipment, sourcing beanshiring baristas, choosing a POS systemforming an actual company, and everything in between.


Pros and Cons of Other Coffee Businesses

As you consider opening a different kind of coffee business, be sure to consider these pros and cons:

Pros

  • Lower costs represent one of the biggest benefits to these types of business ventures. Opening a roastery or coffee shop requires a larger upfront investment in rent, equipment, and the initial build-out. While the payoff can make this investment worthwhile for some, others may lack the capital for such steep startup costs.
  • You’ll need less equipment to start and maintain your business.
  • You can skip the lease. These business ideas enable you to start operating from your home or a communal workspace vs. signing a lease for a dedicated space.

Cons

  • Your success will depend on your marketing prowess. Without a physical shop — at least initially — your success will hinge on the strength of your marketing and networking skills.
  • It may take a little time to build your customer base. People unfamiliar with your product concept may require some convincing before they try out an offering from this new type of coffee business model.

Other Coffee Business Ideas

Now that you understand the main pros and cons of non-traditional coffee ventures, here are 3 potential business ideas to consider.

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Instant Coffee

Since the development of instant coffee in the early 20th century, this time-saving product gained a reputation as a cheap beverage that lacks the quality coffee taste preferred by most third- or second-wave coffee consumers. Recently, however, third-wave coffee companies started to transform this classic coffee method and elevate instant coffee’s reputation.

Why Start This Type of Business?
Convenience and coffee go hand in hand. Consumers consistently look for ways to make their morning coffee easier. This desire — coupled with consumer demand for higher-quality coffees — makes specialty instant coffee a great market for coffee entrepreneurs.

What’s Involved?
Producers create instant coffee by dehydrating roasted coffee after brewing it in large quantities. You can do this using one of two methods: spray-drying or freeze-drying. Once consumers add water to the instant coffee, the coffee fragments dissolve and make a new cup of coffee. As an instant coffee business owner, you must source your coffee and then brew, dehydrate, and package your product for sale in grocery stores, coffee shops, or wherever you intend to sell your product.

Best Practices
Adopting these best practices can help you succeed in this type of business:

  • Source coffee from quality, third-wave roasters you enjoy to ensure your end product tastes good.
  • Rebrand your instant coffee to better align with the values of third-wave coffee. Because instant coffee still suffers from a reputation as a low-quality product, you’ll need some creative marketing to shift that stigma.
  • Seek out wholesale accounts to sell your instant coffee in shops in your area and beyond.

Essential Equipment and Supplies
Here’s what you should include on your core equipment and supplies list, depending on which dehydration method you choose:

  • Spray-Drying Method
    • Grinder
    • Clarified water
    • Spray dryer
    • Airtight, moisture-resistant packaging

  • Freeze-Drying Method:
    • Grinder
    • Sieve
    • Steel belt, tray, or drum
    • Freezer
    • Airtight, moisture-resistant packaging

Coffee Subscriptions

Consumers can now choose a subscription option for almost anything — including coffee. The concept eliminates the hassle of shopping for coffee as well as the possibility of running out unexpectedly by providing a timed, curated subscription program that delivers coffee straight to a subscriber’s door.

Why Start This Type of Business?
The subscription e-commerce market grew by 100 percent between 2013 and 2018, and is expected to continue growing in the coming years. Because coffee remains an integral part of many people’s morning routine, a subscription coffee service is an easy way to ensure consumers always have their important morning beverage.

What’s Involved?
Owners of coffee subscription companies may need to assume multiple roles while establishing their businesses, depending on their labor budget. For example, key activities include curating coffees, scheduling and sending out shipments, and marketing to potential customers.

Best Practices
Adopting these best practices can help you succeed in this type of business:

  • Offer one-time coffee purchases as well as subscriptions, but give a discount for customers who subscribe to your service.
  • Curate a diverse, high-quality, and unique selection of coffees. This will not only set you apart from your competition, but also encourage your customers to try coffee they may not otherwise buy.
  • Make correct coffee storage a priority to protect your product. Choose cool spaces with no direct sunlight for the best results.
  • Include recipes for various brew methods in your coffee shipments to subscribers. This not only informs your customers, but also encourages them to experience your products in the way you and the roaster intended. It also may encourage future purchases.

Essential Equipment and Supplies
Here’s what you should include on your core equipment and supplies list:

  • Bagged, whole bean coffee
  • Packaging materials
  • Website with an online store (Software platforms like Squarespace® or WordPress® can help business owners easily create and manage a business website capable of receiving orders and payments without the need to engage a third-party vendor to host the site.)
  • Storage space

Mobile Coffee Carts

You’ve likely seen a coffee cart at a fair or other event. These on-the-go coffee shops not only provide convenience for customers, but also a great business opportunity for coffee professionals.

Why Start This Type of Business?
A lease for commercial space often represents one of the biggest expenses for entrepreneurs. Eliminating this expense by operating a movable coffee cart can provide significant financial relief for new business owners. This type of business also offers more flexibility in terms of work schedule, providing a break from the typical day job.

What’s Involved?
A moveable coffee cart essentially provides a coffee service for events, parties, and any other gathering that could use a little more caffeine. This type of business can operate in two ways:

  1. You can source your own coffee and operate as a moving cafe.
  2. You can rent your cart and services to roasters looking to serve their coffee at events.

As a business owner, you will need to book events, advertise to new customers, transport your cart to and from events, and prepare coffee. You also must source coffee as well as other materials for your cart, such as cups, lids, milks, and flavored syrups.

Best Practices
Adopting these best practices can help you succeed in this type of business:

  • Connect with roasters and collaborate. This collaboration can bring more event business your way while benefiting both parties.
  • Keep your menu small and simple.
  • Shop around for used espresso machines to help reduce your startup costs.
  • Research portable handwashing stations and sinks required by law as well as any other relevant regulations in your area.
  • Obtain any required licensing for food preparation in your area.
  • Choose the best POS system for you, so that you are prepared for taking orders at events.

Essential Equipment and Supplies
If you decide to open a coffee cart business, be sure to include these items on your initial shopping list:

  • Sturdy, moveable cart
  • Espresso machine
  • Grinder
  • Tamper
  • Pitcher
  • Sink or pitcher rinser
  • Cooler
  • Signage
  • Tent
  • Portable handwashing station (optional, depending on regulations in your area)

Once you decide on your new coffee venture, check out the other guides on this site that discuss how to source the coffee and equipment you’ll need to make your business a success.

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