“What I Know About Running Coffee Shops” – Colin Harmon

This book is THE ultimate bible if you have ever thought of or dreamt about opening up your own coffee shop (which was the case for me)! I started reading it while being in the middle of a 2 week long, intense, all-day training, teaching you all the aspects of becoming a creator of a café. Surprisingly, this book contained all the topics we have gone through during that training, summing them up in an extremely concise manner (and literally costing a 115 times less to be exact 😛 ) . So even though its price seems quite expensive, to me, it was worth every single cent!

Your business, regardless of its function, must have a culture of learning and development. […] Once this is happening you will find that the people that work for you and the people that you attract soon begin to perform better at those tasks than you ever did. That frees you up to focus on more strategic aspects of your business […]. It’s a very strange feeling for me to sit in my café and realise I’m no longer qualified to work there, but one I take a strange source of pride from.

p. 172

I would say that this book would be interesting to quite a wide target group, going beyond those who would like to create their own café. I see it being interesting for those that enjoy going to coffee shops and those who would like to know the background side of things, on how to run such a business, stay profitable and all the work that goes into this process. It will make you understand why you’re paying that certain price for your coffee, which before used to feel over-priced to me. It can also transform your future café visits, making them more entertaining by attracting your attention to new details, that would have gone completely unnoticed to you before.

[…] I know from experience that people who want extra hot drinks are usually quite aggressive about how they request it and, a lot of the time, this is completely understandable because they’ve probably been mistreated by a swathe of surly baristas in previous cafés they visited. […] There’s an extra trick that you can do to help the customer get the drink they want. Just before you make the drink, take the handle of the cup and run it under piping hot water. […] Once the drink is made and delivered to the customer the first message you’re sending them as soon as they touch the cup is that this one’s piping hot. You won’t get many complaints after that.

p. 130

Written in such a captivating way that I wanted to go through it in a single sitting, it has the tone of a conversation with a friend, telling you different stories and lessons they have taken along on their career path. It is sprinkled with a delightful sense of humour but at the same time, extremely valuable information is shared. The range is so varied that it manages to cover each and every topic you could possibly think of: From understanding the wages in the industry, tips on creating a system of keeping your toilets clean, the importance of always paying when you visit a friend’s business, the choice of the location of your future coffee shop, the way you would arrange its interior and tables or even philosophical insights into how to deal with theft! I was highlighting passage after passage and I know that I will get back to this book the day when I will feel ready to dive into the adventure of opening up my own coffee shop.

When people come to cafés, bars or restaurants, they very rarely face the wall when they sit down, they always want to look in at the bar or out the window. You should bear this in mind when planning out how the space in the café will be used and realise that people-watching is a huge part of a café’s brief.

p. 103

All in all, it’s an extremely well written and informative book, with the cherry on top being its stunning design. The thick and matte cover, the graphics throughout the pages, the quality of the paper, the chosen font – it’s simply a delight to hold this little gem in your hands.

It has been a bit of a challenge to track this book down – I was only able to get my hands on it thanks to the KB Coffee Roasters Café, which was the only one in Paris having t in stock. I do assure you though, that it’s well worth the search time! It has made it onto the list of my all-time favourite books and I’m forever grateful to the friend who suggested it to me!!! 🙂

“What I Know About Running Coffee Shops” – Colin Harmon

★★★★★ (5/5)

Edition: ISBN 9780995769908
Self-published, 2017

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