My Top 5 Roadblocks to Opening a Coffee Roastery (so far...)

The path is long and frustrating. But you know that. If you ever thought about taking that step into the, "CEO" position you knew that you were either going to coerce doors to be opened, or to kick them in and take what was behind it. When leaving the stance of employed to becoming employer the entire mentality must shift. Essentially, you become the chef and no longer the cook. That being said, the transition comes with many pitfalls, but in the end the reward is the motivator which overcomes the risk. and here are my top 5 pitfalls that have befell me along this journey.

1) The amount of time it takes, double it.

For the scope of this bullet point, I'm referring to the amount of time to set-up and launch. For me, it has been waiting for the pieces to get to me. If you have been following along on social media, you have known ALL about the little updates... "oh, the roaster is coming next week!" Flash forward three weeks later "oh the roaster is going to be here tomorrow!" When in reality, it wont be here until Monday. Delay, hick-ups and hangups are all a part of the game. The most difficult aspect is controlling your emotions. Slow down, and be patient. It will all happen. Just be sure to use your time effectively while you are waiting. As my distant mentor, Jocko WIllink states, "Prioritize and execute." And, before i close this section out, research your area of the world and fit within the legal and bureaucratic structure. It is best to assume that there will be hangups that must be accounted for.

2) The amount of capital it takes, double it.

At first i didnt want to add this in. Because I set a finite amount of cash that was to be invested into this business. But there comes a point where you sit back and look at the big picture. There is a realization that if you invest an extra $20 here and extra $150 there that you will enhance the brand or operational capabilities. That being said, when you go through your initial phases of setting aside resource to be invested. Be sure to double it, but imagine that it Isnt there. 

3) Your approach to launching must have a, b, c and d backup plans. 

The original thought was to start in a shared kitchen. Which, at the time of this writing, I still am. The real issue is which one. I've applied to 30 and only ligitimately talked to 5. I dont know where the breakdown comes for these small business owners, but they apparently dont need the capital? Then I toyed with the thought of starting the roastery in a 10x15 industrial space that i could easily (yeah right) convert. Think again. Think it through, and have a backup to a backup plan. I also came to the conclusion that the plan must always evolve. so while you are writing your backup plans have web of choices that will ultimately lead you to your desired outcome. write everything down, and reconcile your thoughts regularly, lists helped me.

4) Emotions

Maybe this is just me. I have a high emotional intelligence. Ive always been good at reading situations and peoples feelings and emotions. But in the process of starting this small business alone, the amount of doubt that creeps in during the points of analysis are outstanding. Having recently been in the Marine Corps, there was very little doubt about anything. Playing the small business owner game (I want to emphasise this, in the DEVELOPMENT and ANALYSIS phases) is a very different beast in the dcision making game. how does one remedy this? Plan, prioritize, ruminate, talk it out with those close to you, improve your decision making game ( making more decisions), and commit to making the decision after you have made it. Stick to it. Ride it out throught thick and thin. Once that is completed, you can adjust fire. This advice has helped me thoughout the process.

5) Time will pass far too quickly, and you will have lost all of it. Focus. Beware the time-suck.

The past three weeks have been a blur. Yes, I've also been adjusting to being a civilian again. At times, I would look up from my phone or desktop and notice that it's dark outside. The next realization was that you hadn't eaten that day, and the last time you looked at the clock it was 0615 A.M. Not only had I realize how quickly the time passed, but that it feels like I have accomplished nothing. Not only was a perspective change needed but also a mindset. After all, I continued working until 1130 or Midnight, attempting to maximize productivity. The hardest part to accept (and still accept) is that some days are a wash. Some days you put so much time into meetings that end up fruitless or investing it into people who simply want attention. Be aware, be awake and keep the end goal and end state in mind. Work while they party. 


The above have been my struggles and realizations and i hope that my story brings light to something you didn't expect. Now, go forward and execute with these in your backpocket knowing that they may or may not pop for you along the way. It would make me so happy to hear of your successes, and to hear about your desires if you plan on opening a coffee roastery.

Before you go, please remember...

You dont have to be the first one. The market is huge, not only for the coffee game but for any other market that has endurance, and yes there are many factors that will make you shine. If you need a point of differentiation I recommend the simplest point, and that is SERVICE. You want to work for yourself? SERVICE to others is the best way to stay in business, to include servant leadership.