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Start Your Own Coffeehouse

Coffee is still a viable business idea. Here's how to start your own coffeehouse paradise.
November 17, 2006

Whether it's a drip, a latte or a cappuccino, Americans are addicted to their coffee. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, specialty coffee was an $11 billion industry in 2005, up from $9.6 billion in 2004. But some historians theorize that what Americans are really looking for in their cup of joe is a sense of belonging. "We spent so much of the post [World War II] period in this country retreating inside suburban houses [with] fenced-in back-yards," says Bryant Simon, a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia who spent a year studying Starbucks. "Coffeehouses play to [the] desire [to be] out, even if you don't talk to anyone."

For Beth Livedoti, 29, Jeff Furton, 29, and Stephanie Lemmo, 28, entering the industry in 2004 meant opening a window--or two. At The Daily Rise Expresso, a double-sided coffee and smoothie drive-thru in Ogden, Utah, customers come for more than a drink. "[Some customers] come in two to three times a day just to talk," says Livedoti. "We are their little piece of sanity." Year-end sales will reach $300,000, a second location opened earlier this year, and franchising is in its future.

If a coffeehouse isn't for you, think products like Java Juice, a liquid extract straight from the bean. Other niches include aftermarket products like Coca-Cola Blak and products that incorporate coffee for its health benefits--caffeine's been linked to decreasing the risk of diabetes, liver cirrhosis, Parkinson's disease and even gallstones.

Getting Started
To brew up success in your own coffeehouse: