New to coffee

New to serving coffee? How to set up and serve coffee in your business.

This page is dedicated to those of you whose passion for coffee outweighs your experience of brewing coffee and serving it.

If you are embarking on your first coffee business, we’re here to help. First stop, some tips to get you started on the best coffee journey for you and your customers.  This is based on our experience of running an espresso machine rental company, and the common mistakes that our past and present customers have made.


Coffee business location

The location of your coffee business is key.  There should be a lot of people walking past on a regular or consistent basis.  As they walk past, it should be obvious to them that they can buy good coffee from you.  If you cannot find a location like this, be patient.  It is better to wait for the right location rather than start a business without the customer base needed to make your business a success.  You should also consider your competition, check the local area for other coffee businesses, if there are too many established businesses selling good coffee then keep looking.


What type of coffee should I serve?

There are 2 types of coffee to consider, speciality coffee and commercial coffee.  

  • Speciality coffee is scored above 85 out of 100 when it is cupped (tasted) by professional coffee tasters known as Q graders.  
  • Commercial coffee is all of the coffee that does not fall into the speciality coffee category.  

Speciality coffee is roasted to a light or medium darkness with the intention of showcasing natural qualities of coffee.  It is generally sweet and well balanced.  Commercial coffee is roasted to a medium or dark level and is generally more bitter than speciality coffee.  

There is no right or wrong answer when asking which type is best.  If someone likes a dark roast and another prefers a lighter roast they are both right as long as they both enjoy their coffee. Commodity coffee has been around for centuries whereas speciality coffee has been growing in popularity in the last few decades.

If you are planning on serving coffee to others it is important that you enjoy the coffee you are serving.   Therefore you should ask yourself – what type of coffee do I like?  If you are unsure, go to some coffee shops and try the coffee so you can form an opinion.  When you walk into a coffee shop you can quickly determine how dark the coffee has been roasted because it is usually visible in the clear plastic hopper that sits above the grinder.  

You should also consider what type of coffee your competitors are serving. If you are on a high street where the other businesses are all serving commercial coffee then it may be a good idea to serve speciality coffee to offer something different to your customers.  

Once you have decided which type of coffee you would like to serve you are ready to choose the brand.  There are many coffee roasters in the UK so you are spoilt for choice.  Contact a few of the roasteries and ask to try their coffee – there may even be one on your doorstep. When you taste the coffee you should try it with and without milk as your customers will need to enjoy both options.  The coffee you buy for your business should be whole bean.

Espresso Machine Positioning

Do you want the back of the espresso machine to face the wall or the customer?  If you choose back to customer then when the barista makes the coffee they are facing the customer.  This is generally a more social experience for both the barista and the customer.  If the espresso machine is back to wall then the barista has to turn their back on the customer to make the coffee.  In general it is more work preparing the site for an espresso machine that will be positioned back to customer but it is worth spending the extra time if you have the space for this option.


Red La Marzocco Coffee Machine and grinders

What cups should I buy to serve good coffee?

The cups you choose are very important as they add a great deal to the experience of the customer when they drink their coffee.  The material, thickness, size and shape all play a major part and therefore choosing your cups should be given the same level of importance as choosing your coffee or espresso machine.

Porcelain or ceramic cups add a luxurious feel to any coffee experience so these should be used for coffee that is to be consumed on your premises.  

The following cup sizes are recommended if you wish to serve speciality coffee:

Grams Ounces
Espresso 80g 2-3
Flat White 150g 5-6
Cappucino 200g 8
Latte 300g 10-12

All 4 of these coffees will have the same double shot of espresso, (or single shot if requested by the customer).   Therefore the size of the cup, and subsequently the amount of milk that is mixed with the coffee is what makes the beverages different.  This is why cup sizes are so important!

For those of you who serve commercial grade coffee, the cup sizes can be larger, but keep in mind, the ratios between them should be the same.

For take away coffee it is best to promote a small discount for customers who bring their own cups to be filled with your coffee.  This cuts down on waste so is great for sustainability. But of course not all customers carry their own cups.  If you want to offer take away it is best to use biodegradable/compostable cups.  The most common type is a paper cup which is lined with PLA (a plant based substrate).  This is much better for the environment than the non-biodegradable plastic lined standard coffee cups.

It’s also a great idea to have cups with your logo printed on them, to advertise your business in the local area.  Before ordering 10,000 printed cups we would recommend you buy the same cups in smaller quantities to check you are happy with the sizes and quality.  You will probably find you can’t have your logo printed on smaller quantities but you can always stamp your logo on the first few hundred cups of coffee you serve.  This is much better than buying thousands of coffee cups, and then discovering they are not right for your business.

Choosing your Coffee Making Equipment

It goes without saying that choosing your coffee machine is an important decision, and a tricky one at that.  There are many factors to consider when deciding what equipment is suitable so please give us a call on 07770 542 903 or 0203 544 3219.  We will leave no stone unturned in making sure we supply you with the right equipment for your business.

Learn about Coffee

“How hard can it be to make a cup of coffee?” 

We hear this comment a lot from people who are new to coffee.  And it’s understandable, but unfortunately a common misconception.  If you want to consistently serve well balanced espresso, tasty flat whites & silky smooth lattes, presented to your customers with a beautiful heart poured onto the surface, the answer is it’s quite tricky.

But fear not, for those who are keen to learn and improve their coffee knowledge and skills the journey can be very interesting, fun and ultimately rewarding.  There are a couple of books that we recommend to set you on the right path:

Having this basic knowledge will make the difference between good or bad coffee for your customers.  Even if you buy the best roasted coffee & have the best equipment the coffee can still be ruined by a barista who does not know how to brew coffee.

We want all of our customers to serve good coffee!  That’s why we offer basic barista training for you and your staff (up to 5 people).  This is available on-site, after the installation and includes:

  • health & safety
  • extracting espresso
  • steaming milk
  • pouring milk
  • cleaning 
  • grind adjustments

new to coffee banner, man thinking about coffee machine rental including coffee machine, coffee beans and coffee grinder

Another way to make those early weeks of serving coffee run smoothly is to recruit at least one experienced barista.  There are varying degrees of experienced baristas, so having some basic theoretical knowledge yourself is very useful in determining which of your applicants are the real deal.  Oh and it goes without saying, whoever you choose as your barista make sure they actually drink coffee.  Imagine a chef who doesn’t eat food!

This is why learning about coffee yourself is so useful – even if you don’t plan on serving coffee yourself there may be times when you need to.

Don’t forget the sink!

Over the last few years more and more businesses are serving coffee where it is not necessarily their main product or business.  To name a few this includes shops, hairdressers, gyms, offices and studios.  It’s therefore understandable that you may not want to dedicate a huge space to the coffee side of your business, but please install a sink nearby.  Even if you serve coffee using takeaway cups you will still need to clean milk jugs and other items to make your operation run smoothly.

Don’t overlook the coffee grinder

When choosing your equipment it’s all too easy to focus on the espresso machine and overlook the importance of the coffee grinder.  The grinder is just as important as the espresso machine.  It transforms the coffee from whole bean to the exact grind size needed to extract a sweet and beautifully balanced espresso.  

The grinder type will affect how fresh the coffee tastes, how easy it is to follow the recipe and how much mess/waste it creates.  

We have a wide range of grinders available for all types of coffee and barista. If you start with one and find it’s not for you, we can bring an alternative and simply adjust your monthly invoice. 

If you would like advice on the different types of grinders and which one is right for your coffee business, please give us a call.

Keep your coffee choices simple (at least to start with)

We would recommend you start by serving just one espresso and the decaf espresso.  For each whole bean coffee you serve you will need a grinder.  Each grinder needs to be calibrated – that’s adjusting the grind size and dose to make sure the coffee is extracted to its potential.  This takes a little practice, so starting with one or two maximum makes a lot of sense.  

A lot of coffee shops will stick with one coffee bean choice plus the decaf for this very reason.  If you want to offer an alternative, fruity or floral single origin then that’s great!  Just let us know and we can bring an additional grinder.  And remember this is just our advice, or course you are welcome to start serving any range of coffees you want to.

Grinding decaf coffee

When coffee is roasted it produces carbon dioxide and a lot of it is trapped inside the coffee bean.  Over the following month or two this gas slowly escapes which is why you will find a one way valve on many types of coffee bag.  When we extract the coffee we want just the right amount of this gas to be in the ground coffee.  This is where the freshness of the espresso comes from as well as the appealing crema that sits on the surface.  

As soon as the coffee is ground the carbon dioxide escapes, as it is not contained within the structure of the bean.  Therefore it’s always best to grind your decaf coffee from whole bean along with your caffeinated espresso.  This of course requires 2 grinders which not everyone has space for.  

Although not optimum, it is widely accepted that decaf coffee can be served pre-ground by your coffee roaster.  They can grind the coffee close to the optimum size for espresso and the decaf you serve will still taste very nice, just not as good as if it is grinded from whole bean.

Site Preparation

Most medium and large espresso machines need to be powered by an electrical spur, with the right cable thickness and fuse rating.  This is not a normal 3 pin socket.  You will also need to provide a cold water supply and somewhere for the drip tray waste to go.  Even if this is a bucket that is emptied by hand.  Site preparation is a common reason for installation delays.  We will provide you with a site ready form as soon as you choose the equipment.  It is very important that the coffee machine installation requirements are factored into your refurbishment plans from the start.  So please open the site ready form attachment and have a look straight away.  It can be passed to your designers or tradesmen and they will know what to do.  If you have any questions about site preparation please give us a call to avoid a costly mistake.

Want to know more?
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