Lists are one thing, life is another.


The weird overlap between lists and life.

A point-in-process reflection (aka. word vomit on this coffee shop journey):

One year ago, we had no idea what we were getting into. Among other things, we wanted to bring speciality coffee into a suburb community and thus set out to start our own coffee shop. I started Dream|a|Latte for a few reasons, and one was to document this process. There are countless coffee shops out there, haven’t you ever wondered how they did it? There’s hardly any information online, so I wanted to provide a transparent look into the process, in case there are other curious people wondering how it’s done, or what goes into all. Well, it is less of a secret roadmap, and more of a getting-lost-in-a-jungle-and-not-remembering-how-I-even-got-here sort of experience.

The pace started pretty steady, as we were reading books on starting a coffee shop, beginning to write our business plan, and started getting the vision together. I was compiling what I was learning and the resources that were helpful. I’m more of a logical learner, so figured I’d share the way I learned best and compiled lists and summary posts of things we were encountering. Then the posts started spacing out (they still do, I’m sure you’ve noticed). Unable to document the process in a linear fashion, I was trying to make sense of the unknowns in front of me. I was nearing the end of my lists, since you know, reality is so much harder to make sense of!

Lists and life

Is there even a way to start a coffee shop? No! So I hope you realize that, as you’re walking our journey with us. There is no formula, which is why everything you’re finding online is so broad and vague. So while the resources on our site may help give you a starting guide… disclaimer: life is still crazy! In fact, as we’re approaching the couple of months before hoping to open up shop, I still have no idea what I’m getting into. It’s been a fun and exciting journey, but I’m not qualified or cut out for this! I wish I could say I’m a grab-life-by-the-horns, go-getter entrepreneur, make lemonade out of lemons type of gal. Nope!! I’ve had my freak out moments, wondering if I should give up, point of despair type thing. I’m not a networker, problem solver, silver linings person by nature. I feel I’m the last person to ask on how to start a coffee shop! Even as I’m writing this, part of me wonders if this venture will fall through and blow up in my face.

if there’s a “way” to start a coffee shop, i have an entirely different story altogether…

Yet… when I feel like giving up, something promising happens and keeps me going. When I hit a brick wall in my business plans, something else in the process goes right, or a random door opens up. I’ve done a lot of praying each step of the way, and a ton more praying for direction and guidance when I’ve exhausted all my options. Moments when we were architect-less, or the city wasn’t responding to things that were conditional to us getting the space, or having to make big decisions in tight circumstances… there are many things I can’t navigate through in my unexperienced own self. To the increase of my faith in the midst of fear, many specific prayers have been answered. Can I compile that in a list that you can check off? No… some of these experiences are just indescribable. Though many a persons have started coffee shops and huge business empires in their own strength, knowledge, motivation and networkings, that is not me– I wish I could say it is… but it’s not. I have an entirely different story altogether, and we’ve hit so many brick walls in this process already, I now am fully aware that any success that is to come is not based on anything of my own nature. This blog would have shut down a long while ago.

Lists and life

Why the long disclaimer? Well in case you don’t know, the reason you can’t google search how to start a coffee shop is that there is no formula, no list, no exact way. To the beauty of the coffee industry, each shop and owner has their own journey of ups and downs that is a result, and also has resulted in who they are. It’s a very personal and intimate thing! And if you happen to be an aspiring coffee shop or business owner, I do hope my lists, posts and resources help you get your thoughts together, or inspire you to move forward wherever you are in the process.

But be reminded that you are opening a box to a journey that can’t be quantified and listed out in a summary. You are opening a door that will make obsolete your romanticized view of what society portrays having your own business to be. You are starting a path that will push you to see what you are made of throughout the ups and downs, and you who want to become. And although we know that it’s not about the destination, but the journey… know that the end of having your shop or venture is hardly the end, but a beginning in itself.

…to the beauty of the coffee industry, each shop and owner has their own journey of ups and downs that is a result, and also has resulted in who they are.

And so, thanks for sharing our crazy journey with us

Anyone else feel this way or is it just me?? Speak up below. =]

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6 Comments

  1. I LOVE this…thank you for being honest and vulnerable!

    Oh, and is it sad that I’m pretty sure I know what coffee shop and where you were sitting when you took this photo :

    Post a Reply
    • Julia

      aw thanks, it’s always hard to express yourself in a post, as i’m sure you know, but i try!! haha

      and no, that just makes you EXTRA special!! hehe =]

      Post a Reply
  2. No kidding, Julia… when all is said and done and your cafe is doing killer business, you absolutely should put this in book form. I’m getting more from reading your blog than ANY of the “guides” out there. And as I’m sure you know, there are plenty.
    Your personal take on this journey, not to mention all the how-to gems!, are a winning combination.
    Anyway… I agree with Katie, thank you for your honesty.

    Post a Reply
    • Julia

      Haha, I love hearing that! I was quite frustrated with the lack of real content in those guides… so I’m just glad our story counts for something. You’re very welcome, thanks so much for the reading!

      Post a Reply
  3. I am toying with the idea of a scandinavian inspired coffee shop here in the UK. I love the style and relaxed but efficient attitude with the way things are done by Scandinavians. Outisde London there’s no real scandi-inspired coffee shops on offer and feel there is a market for this style of shop and to get away from the big tax-avoiding chains and seek more independent retailers.

    I’ve read a few of your posts now and it’s inspiring and supportive to see that some of the points you’ve made, I have identified too. There is no guide for how to set up a shop but using services like Pinterest and Instagram and similar sites including blogs like this, I can begin to pit together my own ‘plan’ for things like design, layout, offering etc.

    Having worked in the hospitality industry for 5 years across different outlet types, I’ve got a bit of a head start with some of the more intricate areas, stock control, health and safety, HACCP etc.

    I just need to get money together and one day take the plunge.

    Post a Reply
    • Julia

      Looks like our visions are quite similar in some areas! Thanks for reading; I appreciate you sharing where you’re at in the process. Let me know how things unravel and what you’re learning as well– I always love bouncing off ideas!

      Post a Reply

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