Cafe Tips: Sell Retail Coffee

by Joseph Molloy February 13, 2023 5 min read

Before starting Rumble, I spent many years running my own cafes. One of the easiest ways I found to improve my cafe profits was by selling retail coffee. It’s easy, requires little effort, and can be highly profitable. You have a uniquely captive audience of coffee lovers right there, in your shop, waiting for COFFEE. So your job is already half done. 

But many cafes are missing out on the opportunity by either not offering retail coffee or just not making the most of their displays, so we have put together a quick guide to help you get your retail set-up done right. 

None of this is rocket science, just a collection of simple and repeatable steps. The trick is to commit and do the same steps repeatedly. 

 

Have fresh coffee beans available 

If it’s not there, you won’t sell it. One bag by itself won’t sell either.

 fresh coffee beans in the coffee roaster

Have it within reach of the customer

The customer needs to touch and feel the bags of coffee. Your retail space needs to be as close to the customer as possible.

 

Having it on a beautiful shelf behind the bar will never work

Great coffee is not enough.

The perfect spot is somewhere close to where people wait for their takeaway coffee. They have a couple of minutes to kill and could use it perusing your beautiful retail section. If the barista can chat with them about it while they wait, then that’s a bonus.

 

Clearly labelled and priced

We provide pricing signs to our wholesale customers, or you can write up your own. Make sure they are clear and legible. If you have terrible handwriting like mine, then look into getting some printed. The roastery you work with should be able to help with marketing materials on the coffee you sell.

 

Price properly

Lower prices might seem a great way to hook coffee lovers, but then you need to keep them. Do you want people who want a bargain or people willing to pay good money for good coffee?

 

Have a grinder so you can grind it to order

We use and recommend the EK43 by Mahlkonig. It's a terrific, versatile coffee grinder that can be used in a range of ways. As well as grinding your single origins for espresso and filter, it is perfect for grinding coffee beans for retail as it can go from espresso fine to French press coarse with ease.

 At Rumble, we even designed our own dial for the EK-43, just to make it easier to grind quickly and correctly. The regular EK dial just has numbers, ours shows where to grind for everything from espresso, through stovetop and filter to plunger.

 

Let your customers know about it too

A sign saying ‘We can grind it for you’ will really help.

Cobbs Coffee in Ballarat, with coffee beans on the shelves 

Rotate every week with fresh coffee! 

Our advice is to order for retail first. The consumer wants the freshest possible coffee to take home. As a cafe, you don’t mind a week of age on the coffee. In fact, that’s preferable. So whatever you haven’t sold each week goes into your hoppers to serve as espresso or batch brew. 

At Rumble, our retail coffee is priced at the regular wholesale kilo rate (plus $0.50 for the extra bag and card) so your risk is zero and you have plenty of margin when you sell a bag. 

 

Have heaps of stock

The adage is ‘stock sells stock’ If you only have one lonely bag of retail coffee then you won’t sell many. If you have 20 bags, then you might sell 12. Load the shelves. And keep loading them, keep extra stock under the counter and refill the shelves as soon as possible when you make a sale. A wide range of great coffee creates a powerful impression that you are serious about selling high quality coffee. Think of grocery stores and how full they stock their shelves.

 Retail coffee for sale at Rumble coffee roasters in Kensington

Pay attention to what sells

While a large range of different coffee beans is good, you need to see what actually sells and double down on that. For us, and our wholesale customers, that is usually espresso blends. Our Shadow Boxer, Haymaker and Street Fighter blends are our biggest sellers and we make certain that they are always available.

 

Sell brew gear

Get a couple of Aeropress’ and two porlex grinders. If you have space then add some Hario gear. The brewing equipment makes it look like you’re serious about selling coffee because you are.

If you’re selling Aeropress, then you can even list your cafe on their website, and I can say from experience that people will come to you from that link.

If you build momentum and are seeing success, then look into selling more coffee equipment. Australia is a huge home espresso market, so a domestic espresso machine is a good idea. We sell the Breville Bambino Plus but you can also look into higher-end models like the Linea Micra from La Marzocco. Automatic coffee machines are coming along and you could even think about stocking pods!

 

Offer Advice for Brewing at Home

More people than ever are brewing coffee at home, but they often find it hard to get the perfect cup. Help them out with your knowledge and advice and they'll thank you with their loyalty.

 

Batch brew

Use your batch brewer to introduce customers to fresh coffees.

They are excellent for brewing a large batch to give away as samples and at Rumble we provide coffee cards to display when serving. The cards include the name and varietal of the coffee and some information on the coffee producers who worked so hard to grow it.

Then have the same coffee near the till with more coffee cards, so they are easily visible when it’s time to pay. You could even offer a discount when purchasing as a reward like - “Batchy and a bag for $20” 

Guatemala single origin coffee from Rumble Coffee 

Commit! 

The most important part is commitment. You won’t sell twenty bags your first week, but you might sell four. The next week could be six, and after three months, you might hit twenty.

For more info, I recommend the excellent What I Know About Running Coffee Shops by Colin Harmon. 

 

Keep Improving

It took us well over a year to get the retail section right at Cobb's Coffee, but now it moves a serious amount of retail. Read more about how we kept improving here.

If you want to help selling retail coffee at your cafe, get in touch with the team here at Rumble. We roast a selection of delicious, ethically sourced coffee from around the world. With single origins, espresso blends and enough brewing equipment to fill any retail space.