Once again I am sitting here eating something that I just burned the hell out of. I like cooking, but cooking apparently does not like me. Especially Chinese cooking. I cannot understand how they do it. It seems to me that the fire is just way too hot; there’s no time to think. Or wander off and send an e-mail while you are waiting for your food to be ready! Anyway, if you’re interested, here is the “preamble” to my coffee bar business plan…
When I was young my parents would sometimes entertain guests in the evening. I shared a room upstairs with my brother. My sisters’ bedrooms were just down the hall. We children would lay awake listening to the happy sounds of laughter and conversation from the living room below. I remember the wonderful smell of coffee brewing in the large coffee percolator that my mother kept for such occasions. I recall thinking “how can anything smell so good and taste so bad!?”
The summer I graduated from high school, I had the opportunity to travel to Ecuador with a youth group for about a month. There I was introduced to the Ecuadorian national beverage: Café con leche. The Ecuadorians would boil milk and then mix in a powdery “essence of coffee.” I also saw many bistro-like restaurants where adults would sit for hours drinking Café con leche or thick espresso.
It was during my years at college that I began to acquire a taste for coffee. I would mix it with cream and sugar or sometimes drink it black. I could drink an entire pot of coffee at a time. Later in life, I would often begin my workday with a pot of coffee, or perhaps two!
Legend has it that coffee was discovered by Ethiopian shepherds who noticed the effect it had on their sheep after grazing on the wild berries. Around 1000 A.D. Arab traders brought back coffee to their country and began to cultivate it on plantations. The first coffee shop, Kiva Han, was opened in Constantinople in 1475. And of course, the infamous Boston Tea Party in 1773 made drinking coffee an act of patriotism!
There are two types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans are usually grown at higher elevations and are used in most specialty coffees. Robusta beans have nearly twice the caffeine as Arabica and have a reputation for bitterness. Robusta beans are usually used for blending.
In the 1980’s the gourmet coffee craze hit the United States. Up until that time coffee was almost exclusively purchased in vacuum-sealed cans at the local grocery store. Chances are the coffee had been roasted, ground and canned weeks, if not months prior to purchase. A cup of coffee could be purchased at any restaurant for less than a dollar. Some restaurants even supplied coffee at no charge with your meal.
THE PERFECT CUP
According to STARBUCKS.COM there are four elements for brewing the perfect cup of coffee: proportion, grind, water and freshness. The recommended proportion of coffee to water is 10 grams of ground coffee to 180 milliliters of fresh water. Different brewing methods call for different grinds. In general, a shorter brewing time requires a finer grind.
“A cup of coffee is 98 percent water. So the water you use to make coffee should taste clean, fresh, and free of impurities. Water heated to just off the boil (90° to 96° C) is perfect for extracting the coffee’s full range of flavors. Any cooler and the water can’t adequately do the job.”
The element of freshness will be discussed in detail later in this business plan. It is enough to say at this point, however, that coffee beans are a perishable agricultural product. Great care in selection, shipping, storage and handling are required.
to be continued…