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We all have dreams, and what better dream is there than to open a place of our own, that we can decorate to our heart’s desire, provide food and drinks that warms the soul, be a place of vibes and energy.

Cafe dreaming and research

Well, that was one of my dreams some time ago. I did think quite hard about it, caught some clouds in the dreams, put them back into the sky and settled on this dream instead.

A for Affordability

Like all businesses, the basis of starting out requires money. A financial advisor will remind on the importance of setting aside 6 months to 1 year’s worth of pay to make up for the loss in income while the new business is being set up. Another factor is the different type of commitments like mortgages, education fees, living expenses, car expenses which has to be taken into account when considering Affordability.

Intelligent Money Sdn Bhd has given a very clear breakdown in the costs of starting a food business. After checking your bank accounts and creditability and then matching with your own existing financial commitments, we can then decide what type of food business set up– restaurant, kiosk or cafe we can be comfortable for a start.

B is for Beverage, Baristas, Branding!

It is a proven fact that Beverage profit is highly crucial to the survival of a cafe business. The very word Cafe is derived from Coffee; is a big indicator that offering the right range of quality drinks with value pricing is the basis to a successful business.

Beverage is a topic we are really passionate about so we will share more pointers here on how to make the best of your beverage menu (you can also read more from 5 Tips to Enhance Your Beverage Menu).

Every concept is different but yet, there are some basic rules to an attractive beverage menu. As a cafe consultant, we break it into simple categories and then fit the concept to gel with your desired branding.

An Example of Main Categories and Best Sellers in a Mock Up Menu

General rule: Less is more. However, the menu must consist of classic familiar favourites and intermixed with some interesting home made highlights as well as seasonal offerings. It will make sense to look at the trending drinks for the year and tweak the drinks to include one or two. For example, low sugar is trendy so some cafes get popular from having a full page of low sugar drinks.

Once you roughly have an idea of what flavours you will like to have in your beverage makeup, the next step is to source for them. Of all the many suppliers out there, what is a wise choice and who to go with will depends on the following factors:

Should you stock Ready To Drink or Freshly Prepared Beverages?

Most menus will sell Ready-to-Drink bottles or cans. Similarly, most cafes have a section of Freshly Prepared beverages to show their uniqueness and service levels as the feeling of having a freshly prepared drink is vastly different from drinking a bottled and canned drink.

Choose a wholesaler who has a wide range of either of these drinks. You are likely to cut a better deal buying a larger volume from one or two companies than to buy cheap (and lesser quality) flavours from all over.

Beverage Inventory Management

For a start, business is not as consistent until the regulars fixed their patterns of consumption. Hence, it is prudent to work with suppliers who are flexible in delivering in smaller quantities, offering an assortment of flavours instead of requiring large minimum quantity orders. Return terms and guarantees are other ways to negotiate with suppliers in return for a long term relationship.

Shelf-lives, Ease of Use and QUALITY

Since beverage is the life of your business, it is essential that they have adequate shelf lives to make inventory management more efficient. For example, instead of buying tetrapak soy milk, one can go for quality organic soy powder for that occasional request for a cow’s milk replacement. Using strategies like these, can free up expensive chiller space, reduce wastage and lessen training headaches.

We cannot emphasize more on Quality. Quality means consistent taste, texture, ease of use, customer satisfaction and more. It is the one value which will determine the foundation of your cafe continuity. Choose affordable quality beverage supplies.

Baristas and Branding

I always feel that service and people makes up the soul of branding. Without these two, quality food and beverages will be wasted. In a cafe, good baristas are all about understanding their individual customers; making everyone who steps in feel energized and emphathised on their drink selections. All these social interactions coupled with satisfied palates will build up your cafe brand in time to come.

C is for Chefs

A passionate chef is worth its weight in gold. With the food service crunch happening all over, a good chef must be carefully developed, retained and rewarded thoroughly to ensure cafe survival. Don’t believe me? Then opening a cafe in Malaysia will not be as simple as ABC (pun intended).