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Roast of the Town

Can the ordinary Joe find coffeehouse success in a Starbucks world?

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This story appears in the March 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

One of the most common entrepreneurial fantasies is to start a coffeehouse, to brew the best java while the cast of Friends sips and chats for hours on plush sofas. But with Starbucks on practically every corner, is it still possible for smaller outfits to be successful?

Absolutely, claims Bruce Milletto, president of Bellissimo Coffee Info-Group, a coffee business consulting firm in Eugene, Oregon. According to Milletto, the keys to success in the coffee business lie in stellar customer service and great ambience, in addition to a high-quality product. "It's not about the coffee; it's about the break," he explains. "That's why so many [coffeehouses] exist--they're social meeting places."

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