Do you dream of owning a coffee shop?

The following article was published by a friend of ROCC Coffee Co. As it was rightly on the hot-topic of coffee and China, we wanted to share it once more. 

It seems very few days go by when you have a coffee company and/or a roaster and/or a cool cafe that someone doesn't approach with a comment to the effect of: "I'd love to open a cafe of my own." 

So what is it about the romance of being a small business owner?
Is the coffee shop a special place?
Beyond a dream - what considerations should be weighed on the scales to balance your dream?

Leave a comment after Clint's post. Enjoy. And... Thanks Clint for promoting the cause of better coffee and English in China!


"Do you dream of owning a coffee shop?"

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A fair number of people dream of someday owning a small cafe or coffee shop. A dream soon crushed and smashed by the reality of Cost and Competition in a typical North American market.  How many of you have met someone who wants to ‘open a coffee shop’ only to have your reaction be…… “How original”.

Well, my friends and wanna be cafe proprietors, there is a path to your dreams.  The path you should follow is to China.  While most people, even “experts”, can only recite a few of the major Chinese Cities, there are in fact hundreds of smaller 2nd tier cities, ripe with opportunity. 

A second tier city is categorized by being between 500,000 and 9,000,000, a considerable spread indeed.  A good deal of these places, while not on the tongue of many westerners are fertile ground for almost anything North American.  In fact, from personal experience, some of these “small” cities show no sign of Caucasians anywhere, yet are loaded with a young population infatuated with all things west.  The presence of a westerner would cause great excitement and be the subject of much curiosity.  Your very own, built in, marketing angle.

You see, they are not only interested in you, but what you may bring.  In most cases, the Caucasian who pops his/her head into one of these places is there to teach English, rarely do you see a pale faced person opening a business.  And there lies the opportunity.

NOTE:  In fact your best way to investigate one of these unknown communities would be visit as a teacher, make some contacts, then get the lay of the land.  

While living in a community of 500,000 to discover the only western style hangout in sight is a KFC, will tell you something about opportunity potential.  Locals have attempted to create  ‘western’ style hang outs, but the product is still Chinese.  While hard working and entrepreneurial, they lack the refinement or knowledge to complete the look.  Especially if that person has never been in a western style restaurant or cafe.   And, by the way, the coffee is really really really really bad, even for Tim Horton’s standards.

There is also a simple reason why you tend not to find ‘western’ names in small communities of 500,000.  To the local businessman, the market is too small.  Imagine for a moment a market of 500,000 being too small.  But if you could head an hour over to Yantai ( pronounced “Yan-tie”), with with a population of almost two million or head 3 hours south to Qingdao (pronounced ” tea-ing dao”) with a population of 9 million, why bother with a petty 500k?


This article was written, and published with permission, by Clint MacNichol.
For the original post please visit GlassOScotch or search for the same title on LinkedIn.

Adam S. Carpenter

ROCC, LLC, 806 Gehr Street, Wenatchee, WA, 98801