7 Questions to Ask a Coffee Business Consultant

December 21, 2023 (Published: April 15, 2021)
Collage of independent coffee shops supported by Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea
Coffee business consultant Greg Ubert, founder and president, Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea
Crimson Cup Founder and President Greg Ubert and his team are coffee business consultants for hundreds of successful independent coffee shop owners.

Whether you want to learn how to open a coffee shop or are trying to grow an established coffee business, you’re smart to explore ways for your cafe to reach its full potential. A great option is to seek a coffee business consultant.

An experienced coffee professional can help make your shop more profitable – and more enjoyable – for you to operate.

Coffee business consultants can offer proven methods to:

Good coffee consultants can pay for themselves several times over. They bring fresh perspectives and invaluable experience in what works.

But what qualities should you look for in a coffee consultant? Asking the right questions can help you find the right partner and avoid costly mistakes.

We’ve put together seven groups of essential questions to ask a coffee business consultant before signing a contract. Our answers follow each question.

1. How many coffee shops have opened using your services? Where are they located? How many are still in business? Are they willing to recommend you?

Our answers: Crimson Cup has helped entrepreneurs open over 150 independent coffee shops in 30 states.

The vast majority are still in business – and still working with Crimson Cup. Our coffee business consulting services come with access to award-winning coffee, coffee shop equipment, powders, syrups and other coffee shop supplies.

In 2020 alone, we helped open 19 new coffee shops in eight states. Over 20 new shops are slated to open in 2021. Four opened in the first quarter!

We also have 20 customers that own and operate multiple locations.

And, yes, we have many customers who recommend Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea. You’ll find some of their testimonials on our website, and we’re happy to give you contact information.

2. Do you own your own coffee shops? How many? Where are they located? How long have they been operating?

Our answer: Yes, we own and operate four Crimson Cup Coffee Houses in Columbus and Tallmadge, Ohio.

Exterior view of new Crimson coffee house at Eston
Our new retail flagship store.

Our new retail flagship store, Crimson, recently opened in the Easton Town Center regional shopping center.

The first Crimson Cup Coffee House opened in 2007 in the Columbus suburb of Clintonville.

The Upper Arlington Crimson Cup Coffee House opened September 2015.

Our third location, a coffee bar inside the Columbus Convention Center, opened March 2017.

We opened the fourth Crimson Cup Coffee House in Tallmadge, Ohio in December 2017.

Roast magazine Daily Coffee News named Crimson, which opened October 2020, one of the top 20 coffee shops in the Midwest for 2021.

Our coffee shops function as laboratories where we test coffees, drinks, operational strategies and marketing approaches.

As a result, proven results in our own shops drive the advice we offer coffee shop owners.

3. Can you help me put together a winning coffee shop business plan to get financing or investors?

Our answer: Yes! Helping our customers successful coffee shop business plans is a big part of our 7 Steps to Coffee Startup Success program. Over the years, we’ve helped write hundreds of business plans that turned into thriving coffee businesses.

A detailed coffee business plan template is included in the book Founder and President Greg Ubert wrote to help our coffee shop customers succeed. First published in 2002, 7 Steps to Success: A Commonsense Guide to Succeed in Specialty Coffee, has put hundreds of independent coffee shop owners in 30 states on the road to success.

4. Do you roast coffee? If not, how do you source your coffee? Has your coffee won any taste tests or awards? Do you buy from sustainable sources? Will you send me a free sample?

Our answers: Yes. Crimson Cup is a nationally renowned coffee roaster. We have roasted sustainably sourced craft coffee for consumers and wholesale coffee customers since 1991.

Good Food Award Winner

Yes, our coffee has won taste tests, awards and medals in national coffee roasting contests, including:

  • 2017 and 2020 Winner – Good Food Awards, which recognize the nation’s best-tasting and most responsibly sourced coffees. Our coffees also were recognized as finalists in 2019 and 2021.
  • 2019 Golden Bean Small Franchise/Chain Roaster Champion. Golden Bean North America is the world’s largest coffee roasting competition. Crimson Cup coffees have brought home over a dozen medals in Golden Bean competition since 2016.
  • 2016 Macro Roaster of the Year, Roast magazine. This annual competition recognizes the top roasters in the world. Judges choose finalists by evaluating their mission, sustainability and employee practices and commitment to the coffee industry. They then cup finalists’ coffee to choose a winner.
  • America’s Best Espresso competition. Between 2014 and 2019, Crimson Cup brought home several trophies from this prestigious CoffeeFest competition. Wayfarer Blend took home the second-place prize in 2016 and third-place in 2017.

Yes, we buy coffee from sustainable sources. We have been a Fair Trade certified roaster for over a decade.

Most years, our coffee team travels over 100,000 miles around the globe to source terrific coffee and forge relationships with small-plot coffee farmers.

Through our unique Friend2Farmer direct trade program, we promote the education, health, sustainability and economic growth of coffee farmers and their communities.

Our coffee tastes great and does good. We want our customers – and their customers – to feel good about the coffee in their cup.

And yes, we offer free samples. In fact, every entrepreneur who purchases Greg’s 7 Steps to Success book receives a package of coffee samples.

5. Do you provide training for baristas and coffee shop managers? If so, how long have your trainers worked in specialty coffee? Do I have to travel to a coffee school, or will you come to my coffee shop?  

Our answers: Yes, we offer hands-on training for coffee shop owners, managers and baristas.

Our 7 Steps trainers have decades of experience in owning, running and advising independent coffee shops.

And our trainers come to you, so you and your baristas learn to make drinks using your own equipment and drink recipes. In fact, a 7 Steps trainer will be at your shop for a full week before your coffee shop opens, and will return to help you run your grand opening.

Depending on how many people you need to train, you can save thousands to tens of thousands of dollars with Crimson Cup. Just tally up the tuition and travel costs for several of your team members to go to coffee school.

6. What coffee shop equipment do you recommend? And will you service the espresso machine after I open my shop?

Our answers: After reviewing your business plan and location, we will recommend a package of new (not used – trust us on this!) high-quality espresso machine, coffee grinders and other equipment that best suits your shop and your budget.

And yes, we will teach you how to calibrate and maintain your espresso machine to produce coffee of consistently excellent quality.

7. Will you be there to help me build my business over the coming years and months? Do I have to sign a long-term contract?

Our answers: Yes. Crimson Cup will be your coffee partner as long as you want to keep working with us.

And, no, you don’t have to sign a long-term contract. We don’t charge franchise fees or royalties. We believe we need to keep earning your business by helping you succeed in the long term!

Want to learn more about our 7 Steps to Success coffee shop consulting program? Call 888-800-9224 to connect with our coffee shop consulting team during regular business hours. Nights and weekends, you’re welcome to fill out this form and we’ll get back to you within one business day.

Crimson Cup is a coffee business consultant for hundreds of independent coffee shops

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