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Matt Ventre


Ways to Sell Coffee Without a Coffee Shop

I love coffee.

I love *good* coffee.

I don't love mass produced, poorly executed coffee with little attention to the coffee and beans and sweat that the growers put into it.

Coffee is a drug, but I don't use coffee because of the buzz. It's a whole experience with the added benefit of an energy boost.

People think "coffee shop" and they think, "I really don't want to listen to a monotone hipster tell me about their underground techno-classical slam poetry mashup concert tomorrow. Would just like a nice Americano so I can write my 10 ideas list for the day in peace."

Me neither, man.

But, I do want to talk to people who pour a really nice cup of coffee and what makes them happy and getting up to do what they do every day.

That's my kind of "coffee shop".

Ways to Sell Coffee Without a Coffee Shop

    1. Make It Smaller - No Sitting, Standing Room Only

    This is like what the Doughnut Vault in Chicago does. You walk into a room that's about as big as a closet. You order from one person behind a tiny counter (the door behind them is also the doughnut rack - that's how little wasted space there is). You can snack on your treat there at the standing counter, but more than likely it's busy and you shuffle out to the street to walk and eat.

    Make your little coffee haven just a closet where you can say hi and maybe catch up for a second and nothing more. Like a little secret room that only you know about.

    2. Sell Coffee at the Beach

    You think people aren't going to drink coffee at the beach? People bring Starbuck's cups into church. They drink coffee in the most inappropriate and nonsensical places possible.

    Sell iced coffee for two hours before lunch and one hour after and you'll be out of coffee every day, guaranteed.

    3. Sell it With Girl Scout Cookies

    Yeah, milk and cookies is good, but mom and dad want that sweet hit of dark brew to complement their Samosas.

    Put a coffee maker next to your kids' cookie table and roll in profit.

    Is this against the GSA rules? No idea. I'm not a Girl Scout. I doubt the troop leader will bust your clandestine operation if you're cool about it (make her a double maple latte on the house and I bet she looks the other way).

    4. Sell Coffee to People Who Love Certain Hobbies

    This is not a unique idea by a long shot. I know this because I'm familiar with several coffee roasters who specifically target tabletop gaming audiences (D&D players drink millions of gallons of coffee per year).

    The coffee is good, sure. But, the branding is spectacular. Play on words, appeal to your customers' insular gaming knowledge.

    It's still just a bag of beans. But, they love it!

    5. Make Your Kitchen a Pop Up Coffee Spot

    Don't invite randoms over. You don't want to have to deal with that headache.

    But, you can test your coffee concepts with your friends.

    Set the table like they're at a shop. Put out a little menu. Play music so you can test if people like it with their coffee.

    See if they'll throw you a couple bucks for a hand made cappuccino.

    6. Sell Coffee at Yard Sales

    I might do that this weekend. If your neighbors are having a yard sale, make sure you get those buyers juiced up so they do more attentive shopping.

    Your neighbors will thank you for it.

    (Make them a free cup, too. Be a good neighbor.)

    7. Tow a Coffee Cart Behind Your Bike

    I'm not sure how you'd power it (maybe the bike can double as a generator!) but you can ride around town with your coffee rig in a cart behind your bike. People will flag you down to make them a cup of coffee.

    I bet you'll break a few municipal laws, but do it until you know there's a demand and then get licensed.

    "Catch Me For a Cup"

    8. Traveling WFH Coffee Service

    People working from home aren't just working, they're parenting, they're dog sitting, they're managing the whole household. They want that authentic coffee shop brew, but all they have is a garbage Keurig or some drip pot they got for an engagement present and no time to use them.


    Have people in your town or neighborhood sign up for 20 minute slots where you travel around and deliver fresh, custom made coffee to power their mornings.

    You can sell pre-canned brews to keep them going past lunch, too!

    9. Pop Up a Shop at a Workplace

    No, not coworking like WeWork. That's played out.

    I mean like a sheet metal fabrication facility.

    A body shop.

    Get in there and make some people happy (and make them slightly nicer coffee than, say, Dunkin or whatever).

    Learn a thing or two. Make a connection. It'll be awesome.

    10. Do a Coffee Stream

    Ok, it's not "selling" the product, but you're selling yourself as someone who loves coffee and wants to share a cup with the world - why not find those people who also love things you do and do a three part stream?

    Part 1: coffee-making lesson/tutorial/how-to.

    Part 2: talk about the coffee, origins, roaster, special causes

    Part 3: discuss or do whatever it is your audience loves. Games? Chess? Backgammon? 19th Century Eastern European History? Find your niche and get to it.

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