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Episode 13: How to Start a Successful Coffee Shop in One of The Biggest Cities in The World

Coffee Project New York has been voted the best coffee shop in New York City by Time Out Magazine, gaining world wide attention within just a few years of opening – but it wasn’t an overnight success.

Chi-Sum Ngai and her partner Kaleena Teoh had no entrepreneurial experience when they decided to start a coffee shop, so when they first opened their doors in September 2015 they had no customers except for a few neighborhood regulars. However, the decisions the couple made in the early days, even before brewing a single cup of coffee, were instrumental in their eventual success.

Hear how they got their start by deciding to go to a coffee conference in Seattle on a whim, building a massive network of coffee experts and influencers that pushed them to open their own shop. We also uncover how they created a differentiated business in a city with thousands of coffee shops, and even dive into the financial details of building a business like this.

Show Notes

  • 2:50 Getting the confidence to start a coffee business
  • 4:10 Professional training at coffee school in Portland
  • 4:45 Attending a conference and deciding to quit their full time jobs
  • 7:30 How to remove risk from the start
  • 8:40 Why a couple can start a business together
  • 11:22 Scouting for a location
  • 12:26 Almost giving up, but persevering
  • 14:49 The costs behind starting a coffee shop
  • 16:39 Working 7 days a week
  • 17:58 How to differentiate in the coffee business
  • 21:17 Recruiting a stellar team
  • 22:45 Getting an investor
  • 27:35 Passing the Q-Grader test
  • 31:50 Expanding into a new location
  • 35:10 Getting press and world-wide attention
  • 38:56 How to grow your customer base
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