It has always been a dream of ours to open a coffee shop in our hometown of Liverpool. Now, four months into our coffee adventure and we are still loving (almost) every minute of the experience. The thrill of getting our first customers through the doors has yet to wear off. I doubt it ever will.
So what have we learned from opening Liverpool's first combined roastery and coffee shop? Here are five things that took us by surprise:
1. Coffee is a passion - you'd better have it!
Do not underestimate just how much the humble bean matters to people. We thought that our obsession with the entire process of delivering coffee may not be fully reciprocated, but we keep on being amazed by the knowledge of Liverpool's coffee aficionados. You need to be clued up to keep up with your own customers at times. 92 Degrees' clientele are such a brilliant bunch; they would see right through us if we didn't know our beans.
2. This is the right time for speciality coffee
This passion is spreading like wildfire; there has never been a better time to serve speciality coffee. The regular drinkers are moving away from the big chains towards those establishments who care as deeply about the art of coffee as they do. Once upon a time Liverpool could never have supported so many cracking little coffee joints, but now the scene is thriving.
3. Get to know your neighbours
When we go for a coffee in the likes of Bold Street Coffee or Golden Square we often spot our regulars enjoying a coffee there too. The quality of these places is sky-high All businesses need a USP, but it's particularly important in a true 'scene' where you don't want to step on the toes of others. That is why we wanted to roast the coffee in-house, in view of the customers. We had to offer something different, yet complementary, to the coffee shops around us. It's been important to us to reach out and talk to other coffee shops and roasters in Liverpool and beyond to get to know these like-minded folk and to make sure that what we do works in a tight-knit community like ours.
4. A lot of people want jobs
We've all heard the horror stories of hundreds of people applying for one job in a Costa, well it wasn't quite like that with 92 Degrees Coffee, but it was still tough to select our wonderful workers. There were enough skilled and likeable applicants to operate several coffee shops, never mind just a solitary one. It's great to give somebody the job they want, but it's horrible having to reject others. We've been there ourselves, we know how it feels.
5. Prepare to do things you wouldn't expect to do
If you have never been involved in building, decorating, accounting, cleaning or any of the other myriad jobs that need doing in a new food and drink business, then you may be in for a shock. Some of the work has been fun (shopping for second hand furniture was cool) some of it has not been so fun (sorting out plumbing); get ready to get your hands dirty!